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Somalia: Somalia Communication Profile



Somalia's telecommunications market is incomparable in the world. There has been no central government since 1991 at the same time as a dictatorial regime was overthrown, but despite the anarchy that followed, the telecoms sector has flourished. It is highly competitive with at least seven mobile networks, which as well offer fixed-line and Internet services. There are no regulations or taxes and no service obligations, tariffs are part the lowest in Africa. However, the absence of regulation has as well led to problems with frequency spectrum coordination and interconnection between networks.

In addition, the threat of piracy in Somalia's waters has so far prevented the country from gaining access to international submarine fibre optic cables, which means that it has to rely on satellites for its international connections. As a consequence, the broadband capabilities of Somalia's Internet service providers are limited. Plans are presently underway to land an international cable in the country for the initial time.

Recent evolution 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 additional 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.

Market highlights:

  • A completely unregulated market;
  • New telecom licences to be issued;
  • An underdeveloped broadband market;
  • New government may bring more stability for foreign investment.

Estimated market penetration rates in Somalia’s telecoms sector – end 2013

Market Penetration rate
Mobile 52%
Fixed 1%
Internet 1.4%

(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)

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