Somalia - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Executive summary

Somalia’s telcos reinstate mobile 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, and despite the efforts of the Al Shabaab Islamic militant group to close down internet services. Through the anarchy which continues to disrupt many areas of the country, 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. To address this, Parliament in October 2017 passed the National Communications Law aimed at setting a legal and regulatory framework for the telecoms sector. The law also set I train the process for setting up a telecoms regulatory authority.

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 2018), 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.

The forming of a new government in 2017 has given rise to hopes that the country may 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.

Key developments:

  • National Communications Act passed to reform the telecoms sector;
  • Somnet launches new LTE service after militants forced telcos to cut internet links;
  • Dalkom secures satellite broadband capacity from Intelsat;
  • 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;
  • Liquid Telecom builds the country’s first fibre-optic broadband link;
  • 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.

Companies mentioned in this report:

Dalkom; Golis Telecom; Hormuud Telecom; Nationlink; Netco; Somafone; Somtel; Telcom Somalia; Telesom; Thuraya.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Executive summary
  • 2. Key statistics
  • 3. Country overview
  • 4. Telecommunications market
    • 4.1 Market analysis
  • 5. Telecommunications infrastructure
    • 5.1 Overview of the national telecom network
    • 5.2 National infrastructure developments
    • 5.3 International infrastructure
  • 6. Mobile market
    • 6.1 Mobile statistics
    • 6.2 Long-term Evolution (LTE)
  • 7. Broadband market
    • 7.1 Internet statistics
  • 8. Related reports
  • Table 1 – Country statistics – 2017 (e)
  • Table 2 – Fixed-line network statistics – 2017 (e)
  • Table 3 – Internet user statistics – 2017 (e)
  • Table 4 – Mobile statistics – 2017 (e)
  • Table 5 – National telecommunications authorities
  • Table 6 – Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 1999 - 2009
  • Table 7 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2010 - 2018
  • Table 8 – International bandwidth – 2012 - 2016
  • Table 9 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2000 - 2018
  • Table 10 – Active mobile broadband subscribers and penetration rate – 2012 - 2017
  • Table 11 – Historic - Internet users and penetration rate – 1999 - 2009
  • Table 12 – Internet users and penetration rate – 2010 - 2018
  • Table 13 – Fixed broadband subscribers – 2012 - 2018
  • Chart 1 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2002 - 2018
  • Chart 2 – Internet users and penetration rate – 2005 - 2018
  • Exhibit 1 – Map of Somalia and Somaliland

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In 2009 Paul contacted me and we engaged in the brainstorming sessions that led to the development of the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development.

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