Somalia’s telecom story

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The list of mobile telephone service providers in Somalia is long. This is a good thing; good since it means that companies are attracted to the market strongly enough to descend on it like birds on grains.

The long list is good because it offers variety of choices to the people. This is especially good news because the civil war brought down all the previous telecommunication lines. Today, Somalia offers some of the continent’s cheapest calling rates.

The market is competitive with numerous players.The mobile telephone penetration is approximated to be over 52 per cent. Hormuud Telecom, Nationlink, Somtel, Somafone, Telesom, Golis Telecom, Telsom are some of the major mobile telephone service providers that have established solid presence in Mogadishu. Operating as regular mobile telephone service providers, they offer everything from basic calling connections, to providing Internet and money transfer platforms.

The leading telecommunication service provider is Hormuud Telecom. It started its journey in the world of communications in April 2002 from Mogadishu, the capital city of Somalia. Since then, it has earned a name and fame with 5,000 permanent employees and a varying number of temporary staff. The faith of people in Hormuud Telecom can be assessed by the fact that about 4,000 Somali businesspersons have shares in the company.

Hormuud Telecom is particularly dominant in southern and central Somalia. It provides the services, which include Mobile service (GSM), landlines, and internet services. Its directors know healthy competition when they see one. And although they say only two other telecommunication companies give them sleepless nights, they have taken steps to ensure that they stay ahead of the pack. Presently, Hormuud Telecom offers electronic money transfer without charging for the service.

The move, they say, is aimed at easing the monetary woes of customers who live below one dollar a day. However, any marketer knows that they could not have come up with a better customer loyalty and retention plan. Such is the nature of competition of telecommunication firms in Somalia. In a market that is unregulated and in which insurgents used to order the shutdown of mobile networks, the development in the industry is worth lauding.

Hormuud Telecom’s Public Relations officer Mr Abdalla Mohamed says that the fact that they control over 65 per cent of the market does not give the company an upper hand when it comes to the challenges that the entire market faces. The effect of the years of conflict in the country is still being felt today in the negative perception that the world has of Somalia. Mr Abdalla adds that Somalia needs to invest in the training of telecommunications personnel.

A majority of the professional staff they have today are either hired from neighbouring countries or they are Somalis returning from abroad to work in the country. For this, the telecommunications industry will not need to wait too long. Already, in the city of Mogadishu, there are colleges and institutes that offer telecommunications, Information Technology and Information Science as their courses. These classes are well attended. One such institution is the Modern University for Science and Technology, based in Mogadishu.