Somtel owner calls for accelerated interconnection in Somalia
The CEO of money transfer specialist Dahabshiil, which established Somtel in 2009, has called for a faster transition towards interconnectivity in the Somali telecoms sector.
Calls between networks in the country were initially impossible, forcing Somalis to have four or five different SIM cards, according to Abdirashid Duale.
In July 2011, Somtel, Nationlink, Telcom Somalia, Sotelco and Africa Online signed an interconnection agreement.
Research firm TeleGeography notes that despite this agreement there are still occasions when international rates are charged by operators for cross-network calls and some inter-network connection is still not possible.
"While important steps have been taken there is still much to do to tie the sector together for the benefit of consumers,” said Duale.
Telecoms has been one of the Somali economy’s major growth areas since the central government collapsed in 1991 with several companies emerging to take the place of the previous state incumbent.
Strong demand and light regulation has allowed these operators to thrive, according to Duale, with stiff competition resulting in some of the cheapest and most reliable telecoms services in the region.
"The wider rewards are there for the taking. There are more than two million mobile subscriptions in the Somali territories and ordinary people are now enjoying the advantages of being connected with each other and with the outside world,” said Duale.
"Good governance is needed for us to reach the next phase of economic maturity, and the need for agreement on mobile networks is a clear example of where regulation and regulators have a role to play. But in the interests of retaining that innovative, pioneering spirit it is vital that we refrain from overregulation.”