Telecommunications in Somaliland
Telecommunications in Somaliland, a de facto independent republic which is recognized as a part of Somalia, is characterized by a very low ICT usage. However, there is clear potential for development, especially with the regard to the presence of telecommunication companies from neighboring countries, expatriates engaged in universities and other sectors, and the presence of six telecommunications operators and several VSAT operators.
Telecommunication companies are shareholder entities and are the most important source of income generation and employment opportunities for Youth. There are about 6 main Telecom operators in Somaliland: Telesom, Telcom, Africa Online, Nation Link, Somtel and Soltelco. Telesom is the biggest ISP and telecom provider in Somaliland.
The competition in the telecommunication market is “a negotiated competition”. All operators cooperate in the Somaliland Telecommunication Operators Association, where they agree on prices and give information on this to the Ministry. Prices are uniform and adjusted according to inflation and the exchange rate to the US-dollar.
Fierce competition has driven consumer costs down; international calls on mobile phones cost $0.30 U.S. per minute or less, five or six times lower than in most African countries. The low prices for international calls may be seen as a combined result of real competition; low economic level/development and no public intervention.
There is no telecommunication regulatory institution in the Somaliland region. There is consensus among actors that it would be desirable, but Somaliland is at the beginning of the institutional creation process.
Telesom was established in the year 2001. It later become the leading provider of telecommunication services in the region and holds 90% of mobile subscribers and the other 10% switch between other operators. Telesom provides a variety of mobile communication products and services. They offer prepaid call plans, monthly subscription plans, International Roaming, MMS, WAP (over both GSM and GPRS), Residential Fixed Line services,Broadband Internet plans, and 3rd of July,2011, 3G services started to both prepaid and postpaid subscription customers.
Satellite technology is playing an instrumental role in Somaliland. Based on 2002 prices, it has been shown that a VSAT-based asymmetrical 128/64 connection in any given location in Somaliland costs $0.058 per minute, assuming the connection is used 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Further, the connection may be shared by several PCs and the “per minute charge” can then be lowered accordingly. A tele-centre scenario in Somaliland showed the rate per PC to be $0.005 per minute.
In 2010, a Somaliland company, Somaliland Cable (SomCable) Ltd announced it was contracted to deploy the submarine cable from Djibouti to Somaliland would pull the submarine cable from Djibouti port to Berbera by sea (submarine cable) and on land, it would run cost effective land based long haul fiber-optic communications networks from Djibouti to Somaliland. SomCable declared it would invest $35 million USD on the project and would employ more than 10,000 locals where funding will come from the local businessman Mohamed Saeed MSG.