Leader of the telecom sector in Senegal, Sonatel embodies the concept of « National and Regional Champion » by its contribution to the economy, its social impact and its eminent role in the development of the new economy. This makes Sékou Dramé, Chief Executive Officer, say that « Sonatel remains a major player in all its countries of presence ». Interview.
In concrete terms, what is the company’s contribution to the Senegalese economy in terms of jobs, taxes and dividends?
Sonatel continues to remain a major player in all its countries of presence, and particularly in Senegal. In 2017, the group contributed more than 502 billion FCFA to the budget revenues of its countries of presence. In Senegal, this amount amounts to nearly 250 billion FCFA.
As part of the development of the local private sector, the group’s activities generated more than 247 billion CFA francs for local businesses, including 126 billion FCFA in Senegal. In terms of the balance of payments, the Sonatel group contributed positively in all its countries of presence through traffic balances representing net exports for more than 160 billion FCFA. Lastly, in terms of employment, the group ‘s activities have generated more than 3,000 direct jobs and more than 100,000 indirect jobs in Senegal thanks to extensive commercial distribution, subcontracting and various dynamic partnerships. (Note: here are the figures for the year 2018) on the occasion of the publication of the results at the BRVM.)
New technologies are a source of growth for Senegal. What is your strategy vis-à-vis SMEs?
Orange Business Services Senegal is the reference partner for SMEs / SMIs, large companies and the State. This translates into support for Senegalese companies in their digital transformation, from reflection to implementation, consulting to the development of new and tailor-made services with a commitment to putting the performance, security and agility of our solutions at the service of business success.
To support Senegalese SMEs in their development, Orange Business Services has realized that connectivity – enriched with security, hosting, etc. – is decisive for their economic and social development. That is why in 2017, the Agency for Development and Supervision of Small and Medium Enterprises (ADEPME) and Sonatel pooled their resources, their experiences and their strategies to enable SMEs supervised by ADEPME to benefit from opportunities that the Cloud offers to grow their business by launching CloudNine, an IT platform dedicated to SMEs.
A partnership made possible by the launch of Senegal’s 1st Datacenter and the first of its kind in West Africa, which offers world-class data hosting solutions. It will enable many companies and administrations in the WAEMU zone to outsource their servers with the guarantee of keeping their data to international security standards in Senegalese territory. Uptime Institute (a consortium of companies created in 1993 and the only organization authorized to issue Datacenter certifications) has just awarded Design Tier III certification recognizing Sonatel’s ability to offer services with a very high level of resilience. its datacenter. With this certification, Sonatel has joined an exclusive group of industry leaders.
For the already established Pme-Pmi who need digital as a key to their growth, Sonatel has started for the last three years the opening of its service platforms to VAS operators and to the B2B market via the Orange API program, this in coherence with our ambition to be the privileged partner of the digital transformation of our societies.
Sonatel reiterates its ambition to support, in Senegal and in all its countries of presence, the emergence of SMEs to promote the creation of jobs and development-enhancing values.
And what is your strategy vis-à-vis startups?
Sonatel is a multi-service operator and is positioned as a locomotive of the growth of SMEs and startups. Aware that its leading position gives it a special responsibility in the digital ecosystem in Senegal and in the sub-region, it has decided to actively contribute to it for several years now by taking strong actions in promoting startups operating in the region. domain of Tics.
THE GROUP’S ACTIVITIES HAVE GENERATED MORE THAN 3,000 DIRECT JOBS AND MORE THAN 100,000 INDIRECT JOBS IN SENEGAL THANKS TO EXTENDED TRADE DISTRIBUTION, SUBCONTRACTING AND DIFFERENT DYNAMIC PARTNERSHIPS.
Sonatel is indeed a founding member of ICTC Dakar, the first ICT incubator in Senegal and Francophone Africa, launched in April 2011. It supports ICTC in its mission to bring out international ICT SMEs and contribute to the construction of the best digital ecosystem in West Africa.
In addition, Sonatel is a dynamic actor in the animation of the ICT ecosystem through the organization of challenges such as Hackaton, Boot Camp, etc. for which young entrepreneurs present useful and future applications developed by them.
Major awards are also organized every year; we can mention the Orange Award for Social Entrepreneurship which is in its 8th edition, the Linguère Digital Challenge which is dedicated to women and the Orange Fab acceleration program. All these devices are opportunities offered to young Senegalese companies under 4 years of age to develop innovative services in order to benefit from financial support and high-quality logistical means.
Such support enables them to accelerate their activity by launching their service in partnership with Orange. Sonatel also launched in 2017 Sonatel Academy, Senegal’s first free coding school, which trains young people, jobseekers and under-represented profiles in the digital technology trades and allows them to integrate into the job market or create their own activity. A first class has completed its 7 month training program. A second class will begin classes in February 2019 with an extension of the capacity which will be multiplied by 4 to reach 200 learners. In addition, an e-learning program will be integrated into the school’s program, making it possible to generalize the training to as many young Senegalese as possible.
Finally, Sonatel, in its capacity as shareholder of Teranga Capital (900 million FCFA invested), the first investment fund dedicated to the financing and support of Senegalese small and medium-sized enterprises, reinforces its support to SMEs by generating impacts social, economic and / or environmental benefits for the benefit of all.
Orange Money has become a leading player in money transfer. Is the Bank the next step?
Orange Money has become an indisputable success in Africa with 42 million customers and more than 1.9 billion euros in monthly transactions, mainly in the WAEMU zone. Orange Mobile Finance Senegal, Orange Mobile Finance Mali and Orange Mobile Finance Guinea, subsidiaries of the Sonatel Group, currently have a status of electronic money institution and vis-à-vis banks and other microfinance institutions, they position themselves as partners that can serve as a relay to reach their millions of customers and vice versa.
To meet customer needs for more sophisticated local financial services in the areas of savings, credit, etc. Sonatel, with the support of the Orange Group, is considering further partnerships with the banking sector. Discussions are continuing with the relevant regulatory authorities on the nature of its partnerships and the timing of launching.
Sonatel is present in some countries of the sub-region. What are the next steps in this regional expansion?
Sonatel’s leadership in the telecommunications sector in the sub-region for several years is explained by a strategic vision that has made it possible to anticipate all major breaks in the telecommunications market. An important part of this vision is external growth. Indeed, the acquisition of new external markets in Senegal is a strategy of growth relay registered in Sonatel’s orientations more than twenty years ago.
This model, which makes SONATEL a national and sub-regional Champion, is one of the most beautiful examples to date of the transformation of a historical operator and successful partnership in Africa. It allowed us to have a sub-regional presence, notably by launching operations in Mali in 2002, Guinea Bissau 2007 and Guinea in 2008. In all these countries, Sonatel, through its Orange brand, is in a position of leader. This strategy continued with the acquisition in 2016 of an operator in Sierra Leone in partnership with Orange. These external growth operations enabled us to consolidate strong and dynamic market shares, and to pursue technical achievements, particularly access to very high speed with the latest generation equipment.
Other new areas of diversification in our current markets or in other territories are being studied in order to be in a position to pursue profitable growth of the group’s activities.
What are the expectations of the private sector that you are in relation to Phase II of the Emerging Senegal Plan?
Sonatel is committed to making a strong contribution to the achievement of the PES objectives, in particular those of the « Digital Senegal 2025 » plan, which has a major stake for the development of the digital economy of our country, particularly through its ability to improve the promotion of an innovative and value-creating digital industry and the diffusion of digital technology in priority sectors. The establishment of a regulatory and fiscal environment allowing the development of telecom operators’ investment is a strong expectation of the private sector. The tax pressure resulting from the introduction of new taxes as well as certain regulatory decisions (free hotlines, lower interconnection rates in Senegal), and the high cost of microwave links may eventually penalize the growth and digital coverage of the territory. .
Meanwhile, SONATEL is mobilizing and is committed to supporting the government in the digital transformation of the country. In the first phase of the PES, the objectives assigned to operators by the State in the « Digital Strategy 2025 » project in the field of accessibility is to lower Internet tariffs by 50% by 2019 by compared to the 2015 rates. Sonatel has achieved this goal on mobile since 2018.
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