Fibre Optic Powering Commerce

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Even at the heart of the internal war, residents of Mogadishu were still able to communicate using modern technology, thanks to the extensive use of mobile phones that also powered a thriving money transfer system, both internally and abroad.

“Speed, reliability, cost and security are the key issues in internet service provision.” -Abdifatah Abdulahi, director of Sahal “

The recent laying of fibre optic cable is set to further enhance communication in the county. The commercial and the public sector is particularly expected to gain through cheaper and faster connections. Trading companies, banks, hospitals, learning institutions and telecommunication firms have identified a faster and reliable internet connection as one of the key growth factors. The fibre cables trunks lying under Mogadishu might just be the answer needed to satisfy this demand.

When Sahal Telecom Company, one of the first internet service providers in the country launched in 2011, the local market and need for internet was at its infancy. The company used to provide service in a small area of Mogadishu.

Now, however, it serves the entire city, and is offering 4G internet to both private and public institutions. “Our services are flexible enough to cater for even those who need the cheapest packages, including home users,” says Abdifatah Abdulahi, director of Sahal. The cultural change fired by provision of the internet is very apparent in Mogadishu. On the streets, public cybercafés are fully operational. Slumped between rows of desktops and laptops are young men on Facebook or Twitter, patiently typing away to the constant hum of the air conditioner.

In a city with little public newspaper, the internet has become a major source of information of what happens both locally and internationally. When the youngsters are not on their desktops, they are on their phones. Internet service providers agree on one thing; that internet service consumption among the youth is only second to the consumption by institutions. They own smart phones and laptops and iPhones in big numbers.

The internet services demand, especially driven by a youthful population, is piling pressure on telecommunications companies to provide more reliable services. “We have put the infrastructure in place. We know that it is not what some of our clients who have seen and experienced international standards are used to, but they have to know that we are doing our very best,” says Mr Abdulai fo Sahal. Sahal’s companys chief operating officer, Mr Abdulahi Ibrahim, notes that the company has identified speed, reliability, cost and security as the key issues in internet service provision. Many telecommunication companies globally grapple with the same issues.

On cost of service, Mr Ibrahim believes that Somalia being an open market, the costs will eventually be determined by market forces. Their speeds have improved since the laying of the fibre optic broadband cable link from the neighbouring Kenya, in 2013, facilitated by Liquid Telecom. In the past, internet service provision in Somalia relied on international satellites, but with the coming of the fibre optic cable, the cost is expected to go down and the speeds to get better. This is expected to spur the introduction of new banking service.

Even at the heart of the internal war, residents of Mogadishu were still able to communicate using modern technology, thanks to the extensive use of mobile phones that also powered a thriving money transfer system, both internally and abroad.

“Speed, reliability, cost and security are the key issues in internet service provision.” -Abdifatah Abdulahi, director of Sahal “

The recent laying of fibre optic cable is set to further enhance communication in the county. The commercial and the public sector is particularly expected to gain through cheaper and faster connections. Trading companies, banks, hospitals, learning institutions and telecommunication firms have identified a faster and reliable internet connection as one of the key growth factors. The fibre cables trunks lying under Mogadishu might just be the answer needed to satisfy this demand.

When Sahal Telecom Company, one of the first internet service providers in the country launched in 2011, the local market and need for internet was at its infancy. The company used to provide service in a small area of Mogadishu.

Now, however, it serves the entire city, and is offering 4G internet to both private and public institutions. “Our services are flexible enough to cater for even those who need the cheapest packages, including home users,” says Abdifatah Abdulahi, director of Sahal. The cultural change fired by provision of the internet is very apparent in Mogadishu. On the streets, public cybercafés are fully operational. Slumped between rows of desktops and laptops are young men on Facebook or Twitter, patiently typing away to the constant hum of the air conditioner.

In a city with little public newspaper, the internet has become a major source of information of what happens both locally and internationally. When the youngsters are not on their desktops, they are on their phones. Internet service providers agree on one thing; that internet service consumption among the youth is only second to the consumption by institutions. They own smart phones and laptops and iPhones in big numbers.

The internet services demand, especially driven by a youthful population, is piling pressure on telecommunications companies to provide more reliable services. “We have put the infrastructure in place. We know that it is not what some of our clients who have seen and experienced international standards are used to, but they have to know that we are doing our very best,” says Mr Abdulai fo Sahal. Sahal’s companys chief operating officer, Mr Abdulahi Ibrahim, notes that the company has identified speed, reliability, cost and security as the key issues in internet service provision. Many telecommunication companies globally grapple with the same issues.

On cost of service, Mr Ibrahim believes that Somalia being an open market, the costs will eventually be determined by market forces. Their speeds have improved since the laying of the fibre optic broadband cable link from the neighbouring Kenya, in 2013, facilitated by Liquid Telecom. In the past, internet service provision in Somalia relied on international satellites, but with the coming of the fibre optic cable, the cost is expected to go down and the speeds to get better. This is expected to spur the introduction of new banking service.

On every major street, billboards with product images are a constant sight in Mogadishu.

Something is going on in the streets of Mogadishu; not the cruising cars or the charging lorries, or even the shops lined up on either side of the roads. There is a lot of seeing, reading and watching to be done here, all thanks to an active out-door advertising culture that has gripped the business community in the city.

At every junction, street corner, and irregularly punctuating the side of the roads, billboards with product images are a constant sight in the city. Local companies, multinational firms and a few excited/ambitious NGO’s are jostling for their share of the audience’s eyes. And in the case of digital advertising screens, yes, they are here too.

Colourful yet simple in design, the adverts clearly bring out the infant but active business competition that exists in Mogadishu. In a city that still has wall paintings.