2019 the year of innovation in Senegal?

  • February 27, 2019

  • Dakar, Senegal

Pour de plus amples informations

Bery Kandji
Consultante en Communication et Gestion de Connaissances, MM4P Sénégal et Bénin


The question is worth asking when we look at the results of the past year. Digital financial services (DFS) experienced strong growth with a transaction value multiplied by 5 in 3 years. UNCDF-MM4P's annual survey of service providers revealed that stakeholder investment in digital finance has once again increased sharply: + 20% in 2017.

2018 has seen a significant number of initiatives that will extend this momentum of growth. Money transfer operators continue to migrate to e-wallet services. The banking sector has expanded its retail banking strategy, integrating microfinance institutions and fintechs into their operations. Several banks have also launched mobile banking solutions.

On the side of mobile operators, the Orange Group, the undisputed leader in Senegal, has revealed its ambition to have a bank by 2020. Sentel GSM (Tigo) was acquired by the trio Sow-Niel-Hiridjee and Expresso a launched its mobile money E-Money offer.

The fintechs have confirmed their rise in power by launching some flagship offers. During the year, a multitude of local, regional or international incubators has distinguished themselves through competitions, round tables or conferences to provide support to these young shoots which can change the situation on the market. Among others: CETIC, ENABLIS, JOKKOLABS, COFINA STARTUP HOUSE, Kinaya Lab, BRVM Fintech Lab, Société Générale Sub Saharan Africa Innovation Lab, Watulab through Israeli cooperation, Dakar Finance Cluster in partnership with France Innovation.

Regulatory bodies have engaged in unifying actions, opening the door to innovation. After opening the USSD codes to providers that are not mobile operators, ARTP organised a forum on the development of digital services, allowing the actors to share their experiences on the use of the resources of the mobile operators. The BCEAO has initiated the week of financial inclusion to mobilise the ecosystem around the regional strategy of financial inclusion and accelerate its deployment.

Finally, many of these actors had numerous encounters throughout the year, through the UNCDF-MM4P Digital Finance Working Group, and discussed important topics such as the digitalisation of agricultural value chains, the deployment of agents in rural areas and digital financial innovation through services such as digital credit.

Thanks to these constant exchanges between actors and with the regulators, 2018 ended with a good mutual understanding of the challenges of the suppliers and the regulatory texts governing digital finance. These challenges include the USSD's restrictive pricing for non-telecom operators, the multitude of regulatory interlocutors, and the complex regulatory framework for the deployment of bank or microfinance agents. Despite these challenges, the ecosystem remains in constant evolution.

What does this new year hold for us? Will banks and microfinance institutions make a comeback and put an end to the supremacy of the operators? Will the regulation give in to the demands of the constant evolution of the actors? Will second-generation DFS finally develop and confirm their impact on mobile money penetration?

We have good reason to believe in a 2019 year rich in digital financial services for the financial inclusion of Senegalese people.

Au revoir 2018 et bienvenue 2019 !