Somalia - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Somalia’s telecom sector to gain direction through new licensing regime

Somalia’s telecom market has been sustained despite tremendous difficulties. The country’s economy has made it difficult to sustain investment in infrastructure, and the Al Shabaab Islamic militant group has on occasion forced the closure of internet services in many areas of the country. Furthermore, there has been a lack of guidance from a central government or sector regulatory entity since 1991, when a dictatorial regime was overthrown. However, some progress may be expected following the passing of the National Communications Law in October 2017, aimed at setting a legal and regulatory framework for the telecoms sector. The Law made provision for a National Communications Agency charged with encouraging market competition and overseeing the use of ICTs in promoting economic development. A Director for the Agency was appointed in 2018.

Through the anarchy which continues to disrupt 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. Tariffs are among the lowest in Africa, and although the absence of regulation led to problems with frequency spectrum coordination and interconnection between networks these issues are to be addressed by the new telecom regulator.

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.

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:

  • Somtel launches LTE-A services;
  • National Communications Law passed to reform the telecoms sector;
  • Regulator opens consultation on the Unified Licensing Framework;
  • Government to set up an IXP in Mogadishu;
  • SomCable completes first stage of 1,200km terrestrial backbone network;
  • Contracts signed to build the DARE and G2A submarine cable systems;
  • Liquid Telecom builds the country's first fibre-optic broadband link;
  • SEACOM cable lands in Somalia;
  • Three mobile operators agree to interconnect their networks;
  • Report includes Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report:

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

Table of Contents

  • Key statistics

  • Regional Africa Market Comparison

    • TMI vs GDP
    • Mobile and mobile broadband
    • Fixed and mobile broadband
  • Country overview

  • Telecommunications market

    • Market analysis
  • Regulatory environment

    • Historic overview
    • Regulatory authority
    • Unified licenses
  • Mobile market

    • Mobile statistics
    • Mobile infrastructure
      • 4G (LTE)
    • Mobile content and applications
      • m-banking
  • Broadband market

    • Market analysis
    • Broadband statistics
  • Telecommunications infrastructure

    • Overview of the national telecom network
    • National infrastructure developments
    • International infrastructure
  • Appendix – Historic data

  • Related reports

List of Tables

  • Table 1 – Top Level Country Statistics and Telco Authorities - Somalia – 2019 (e)
  • Table 2 – Growth in the number of mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2009 – 2024
  • Table 3 – Growth in the number of active mobile broadband subscribers and penetration rate – 2012 – 2024
  • Table 4 – Growth in the number of fixed broadband subscribers – 2012 – 2024
  • Table 5 – Growth in the number of fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2009 – 2024
  • Table 6 – International bandwidth – 2012 - 2017
  • Table 7 – Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2000 – 2009
  • Table 8 – Historic - Internet users and penetration rate – 1999 – 2015
  • Table 9 – Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 1999 – 2009

List of Charts

  • Chart 1 – Overall Africa view - Telecoms Maturity Index vs GDP per Capita – 2018
  • Chart 2 – North Africa - Telecoms Maturity Index vs GDP per Capita – 2018
  • Chart 3 – Africa – Middle-tier Telecoms Maturity Index (Market Challengers) – 2018
  • Chart 4 – North Africa –Telecoms Maturity Index by country – 2018
  • Chart 5 – North Africa mobile subscriber penetration versus mobile broadband penetration – 2018
  • Chart 6 – North Africa fixed and mobile penetration rates – 2018
  • Chart 7 – Growth in the number of mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2009 – 2024
  • Chart 8 – Growth in the number of active mobile broadband subscribers and penetration rate – 2009 – 2024
  • Chart 9 – Growth in the number of fixed broadband subscribers and penetration rate – 2009 – 2024
  • Chart 10 – Growth in the number of fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2009 – 2024

List of Exhibits

  • Exhibit 1 – Generalised Market Characteristics by Market Segment
  • Exhibit 2 – North Africa - Key Characteristics of Telecoms Markets by Country
  • Exhibit 3 – Map of Somalia and Somaliland

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