Two new subsea cables under way to improve Somalia's internet services
Somalia's telecom market has managed to keep going despite the lack of guidance from a central government or sector regulatory since 1991, when a dictatorial regime was overthrown. Through the anarchy which has followed, and which continues in many areas, the telecoms market, dominated by the competitive mobile sector where seven networks compete for customers, has flourished. Some of these mobile services operators also offer fixed-line and internet services. There are no regulations or taxes, and no service obligations. Tariffs are among the lowest in Africa. However, the absence of regulation has also led to problems with frequency spectrum coordination and interconnection between networks.
The country's access to international submarine fibre optic cables was delayed until 2014, largely due to concerns resulting from piracy as well as to social difficulties and political anarchy. The landing of the first cable ended Somalia's dependence on expensive satellite connectivity for internet access. Consequently, Somalia's Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have been able to provide much improved services, though international bandwidth remains very limited. This is set to change with two key submarine cables: the 1,500km G2A cable (with a terrestrial connection to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, expected to be ready for service at the end of 2016), and the 5,500km DARE cable, expected to be made available in May 2018.
There are also fibre-optic broadband links connecting Somalia across the Kenya border and linking to directly into Hormuud Telecom's network.
Recent progress in the fight against Islamist militias and the formation of a new government are giving rise to hopes that the country may finally stabilise and become more attractive to foreign investment, which is needed to take the telecoms and broadband sector to the next level. The new government is beginning to regulate the sector and is planning to issue new spectrum licences that will allow the operation of high-speed mobile broadband technologies.
SomCable completes first stage of 1,200km terrestrial backbone network;
Contracts signed to build the DARE and G2A submarine cable systems;
Orb 3 Networks signs deals with three ISPs to extend wireless internet services;
Rapid Communications reportedly awarded a mobile banking licence;
New government may bring more stability for foreign investment;
Liquid Telecom builds the country's first fibre-optic broadband link;
Dalkom provides connectivity via the EASSy cable;
Militants force telcos to cut internet links;
Telesom expands mobile wallet service, enables remittances from abroad;
SEACOM cable lands in Somalia;
Somtel contracts Alcatel-Lucent to develop LTE infrastructure;
Glocall Telecoms launches LTE;
Three mobile operators agree to interconnect their networks.
Market penetration rates in Somalia's telecoms sector end 2015 (e)
Penetration of telecoms services: | Penetration
Fixed-line telephony | 0.6%
Fixed internet | 2.1%
Mobile SIM (population) | 52%
Companies mentioned in this report:
Dalkom; Golis Telecom; Hormuud Telecom; Nationlink; Netco; Somafone; Somtel; Telcom Somalia; Telesom; Thuraya.