Gandoul: Where Senegal’s telecom is being revived

L.Today, April 5, 1972, is engraved in the memory of 79-year-old Alasane Diali Ndia forever. That day, the telecommunications engineer pressed a button that would allow a conversation that remained famous: “Mr. President, good evening, Senghar on the phone. I am sending you sunshine from Senegal, “said Senegalese President Leopold Seder, addressing his counterpart Georges Pompidou in Elysee, about 50 kilometers from Dakar, near Sebicotan in the Thies region, to Ellis, the capital of Senegal.

The end of a long month of hard work and sleepless nights for Alasan Diali Ndiaye and his team. In the spring of 1972, they were credited with launching the first satellite telecommunication earth station in West Africa. You have to imagine a huge 32-meter parabolic antenna that has made it possible to connect Senegal and Africa with the rest of the world. In a particularly favorable area for better capture of the sun’s rays – installed at equal distances between the two plateaus, the Gandul station has taken Senegal and West Africa into a new era where a great global war is already raging over telecommunications.

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Bringing Senegal into a new era of telecommunications

“Working in tandem with a team of Senegalese technicians, we realized that we, like everyone else, were able to assimilate the technology of great complexity. Pere is proud to acknowledge the man who was the first African to specialize in space telecommunications and who led Sonatel’s ancestor Telesenegal. . ”It was at this point that I realized we could do great things together,” Alasen Diali Ndiaye thinks. The first meeting I attended at Intelsat, he continued, compiling his memoirs, at first I was the only black person, but then there were many of us, he noted. Contrary to popular belief, the role that Africa plays in the world is crucial, ”he said, adding that Teranga had a mission to persuade President Senghar to bring the country into the age of modern telecommunications. “Even if he had no skills in telecommunications, the president encouraged this avant-garde project because he knew that the future of Africa would go through this kind of technological development,” Alasen Diali Ndiaye recalls.

This change was felt by the Senegalese, especially in Dakar and its region, as the Olympic Games were re-broadcast on national television in Munich. And the national daily, The sun, To the front page headline: “A New Olympic Games in Dakar: Watching TV”. Since the 1980s, in the context of space conquest, Gandoul has distinguished himself by participating in NASA programs, such as the launch of the space shuttle Columbia. “Our role was to protect Africa’s place with Utelsat,” said Alasen Diali Ndia, who was hailed as a rock star a few hours ago at an event hosted by Sonatel Group (27% owned by Senegalese state and 43% by Orange) in Gandule. , Tuesday 17 May.

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Dust off satellite images

Fifty years later, Senegal has strengthened its position as a telecommunications hub on the African continent. “It may seem counterintuitive with the advent of mobile, but in this 21st century satellite is a technology of the future.e Over the centuries, it has been the subject of multiple innovations that will allow us to connect with our populations, including areas that have little or no service, “said Sতেkou Dramé, general manager of Sonatel. Hosted by SES), the world’s leading satellite telecommunication service provider.

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Dakar, the gateway to international connections in Africa

So Gandul will be reborn, but there is no question of turning it into an isolated project, away from the concerns of the Senegalese. The site’s conversion is part of a more ambitious project by its largest shareholder Sonatel and Orange. “There is a complement between submarine cable and terrestrial infrastructure and then satellites,” backed Jean-Luc Villemin, director of Orange’s international networks. The new satellites will connect to existing terrestrial telecom networks and are being expanded, such as with fiber optics as well as submarine cables that have already connected Senegal to France and Portugal. “These infrastructures are important for telecommunications. And countries like Senegal, C ডিte d’Ivoire and Morocco are starting to merge their territories because they need to connect with the rest of the world, “explained Jerome Barre, CEO of Orange Wholesale and International Networks. The question is, because there is a huge appetite among users for data, “said an expert on assignments in Dakar. Exactly, Senegal is well covered in 2G, 3G and 4G. 90% of the population already has access to 4G. With access to the sea, Dakar is a real gateway to Africa for the French group, which holds more than 50% of the telecommunications market share there and is headquartered there by its Joliba Land Network, which will connect Gandul. The station and “you now have the opportunity to open this space with SES and satellites”, Jerome Barre added. “Today, mobile phones are used for many things, such as transferring money, accessing streaming content, music … List of specialists who need to avoid the risk of traffic jams locally.

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Fight for local coverage

The group invests up to বিল 1 billion annually in developing network infrastructure in Africa. The image of the Orange International Network, Infrastructure and Services (ONIS), right in the center of Dakar, is the first “Pan-African” land network of optical fiber built by Jolibar experts (from the Niger River Mandinka name) Orange, which already connects eight West African countries ( Burkina Faso (Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal) knows its issues by heart. This Monday morning in May, Aminata Drum, the structure’s chief, and her team discussed in front of the main screen, referring to the recurrences of the previous days. “Joliba was really expecting, proof, a year later, we’re already talking about extensions,” added Aminata Drum, pointing out that there is only one communication facility for customers for all their needs. “We are aiming to expand our coverage to the north, so countries like Mauritania, in the long run we can go to the coast of Morocco, North Africa, this axis seems to be the most attractive to us today. Development ”, Jean-Luc Villemin, specifies the bridgehead of this project and many more across the continent. In terms of prices, Jérôme Barré refers to landlocked countries like Mali, which are already benefiting from lower prices on international connections. While Orange is betting on this promising future, Senegalese customers are hoping that all of these projects will promote better quality of motion and more attractive prices.

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