The world of cell phones in Senegal

This is one of many posts on life in Senegal that I didn’t know about until I got here, so it might be helpful for those planning on studying abroad here. Here’s how cell phones work out in senegal for me.
Phones themselves can purchased at a lot of electronic stores, but the first week there, the ACI/Baobab Center coordinated so we could buy phones (more basic than ones in the states – no pictures or color screen, its a simple phone – nokia 1112, I like it, it gets the job done, has long battery life, recommended by the ACI.).

The package of phone, battery, charger, and SIM Card (here you get your phone number), all brand new, cost 30,000 CFA total. I was told it was a good price. The phone manufacturer (nokia is completely independent of the phone service (and SIM card) provider. Different than in the USA, since you can you use any phone you want with either service (more on that..). There’s two major phone service providers, Tigo (izi in wolof) and Orange (setti) . I don’t know of any differences in service. I have orange.

I don’t have a monthly phone bill, it’s pay as you go. You can buy ‘credit’ for 1000, 2500, 5000, 10000 CFA – you can buy it anywhere practically . It costs probably 100 cfa or so a minute for a call to another number. You can text message for 50ish cfa each (i still don’t use it often, you can’t understand what the person is saying as well as through their voice) The disadvantage: the credit expires. The credit on the 1000 cfa card expires after 10 days after you bought it. But, if you do buy another card, the remaining credit won’t expire (until the 10 days later or so). Good ploy by phone company to keep you buying credit.

You can use the same phone that you use in the USA. You just have to take out the SIM card (its in the back of your cell phone, and can be a pain to access, depending on your phone). If you want, you can do that, you just have to buy a SIM card (and your senegalese phone number) here for 2500 cfa or so.

That is probably more than you want to know about cell phones in Dakar, Senegal.

Maa ngi xiimi attaya ci keram sama xarit Beth. (wolof for I’m going to drink attaya (Senegalese tea) at my friend’s house).

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  • Nick  On February 3, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Are you still studying here? I’m doing a project with Stanford University that is attempting to bring mobile applications to Africa, with Senegal as one of the targets, and understanding current cellular infrastructure would be very helpful! You can just post a follow-up comment to let me know you’re out there, and we can sync up later. Thanks!

    • Will  On February 7, 2010 at 6:03 pm


      Unfortunately, I am no longer in Dakar Senegal.

  • wadawson  On June 3, 2010 at 10:56 am

    No, it is not more than I wanted to know – many thanks! I typed into the internet “senegal and cell phone costs” and first selection is your information. Excellent.

    Tony Dawson
    Cawston, BC

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