A new dawn for Somaliland Telecom sector

The Telecom sector in Somaliland has long been hailed as a success story in Africa from its modest beginning to becoming a very diverse and competitive marketplace in bringing in new innovative and diverse services in its multiple facets, including the highly effective mobile money services. It has to be said that the absence of a proper government regulatory framework has been in many aspects, a blessing in disguise. Inevitably the local investors could see the opportunities in connecting people and businesses from the far corners of the country and allowing them to interact through trusted digital means. So far this has been a commendable success but obviously the public expect more and rightly so.

Undersea cable landing

In 2022 we might be lucky enough to witness the first submarine cable landing in Berbera and the year might even surprise us with multiple cables landings. If this turns out the reality this will be an outstanding achievement for the country and a new milestone for the Telco sector in general. The ensuing benefits are huge as Somaliland will be seizing the opportunity to establishing itself as the source of the submarine cables, not just for its home market but for the entire Horn of Africa region. I say this because the potential is enormous for the local Telecom companies to capitalize.

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To put this into a perspective, the arrival of ‘international’ submarine cables will forever change the ICT terrain for the better. As the quality of connectivity improves in all networks, a new dawn for Cloud-based platforms for cheaper and more innovative services will be possible. New Data Centres will emerge to provide value-add services such as secure ‘managed services’ and ‘collocations’. International content providers such as YouTube, Facebook and others will utilize these services to enhance user experiences.

Fibre Optic backhauling

Over the years the local Telecom operators have been used to idea of deploying wireless microwave networks which has serious reliability limitations in bandwidth and throughputs. The fact that they are now coming together to sign up to the idea of ‘infrastructure sharing’ is a great step in the right direction. Not only they will save much needed money in their operational expenditures (OPEX), their end users will experience much improved services in speed and realities.

Ensuring that this window of opportunity in infrastructure sharing amongst the network operators is not missed as it happened many times in the past, it is incumbent that the government takes the initiative in laying down strong frameworks that this is in the interest of the country and everyone is a winner in this endeavor.

Network Interconnections

It is inconceivable that this sector, with all its successes, that the local networks are still disconnected.

For almost three decades and frankly since the beginning of times for this industry, the absence of interconnection between network operators has been a thorny issue that no government had succeeded to implement this essential feature of the Telecom services. On the other hand it is sad to see that these network operators could not fathom the benefits of connecting their networks and perhaps generating more revenues for ‘inter-network’ calls. In order to achieve this, the required policies in ‘termination rates’ between the operators in both cellular and fixed networks will need to be developed.

Again, in this new dawn of cooperation between the companies, perhaps this vital service will be agreed on a mutually beneficial setting and delivered in the interest of the public.

Somaliland Internet Exchange Point

Since all communications are now slowly becoming all IP network the government will have to work on the idea of setting up the first Somaliland Internet Exchange Point (SLIXP). The benefits are for reducing the cost of upstream transit costs for each ISP’s bandwidth.

Usually, the models adopted around the world are ‘non-for-profit’ organization bringing together not only the private network operators but also CDNs (Content Development Networks), public universities and libraries. The goal is to eliminate IP Transit charges incurred in transmitting data between local operators. One specific example is if one customer in particular network is trying to access a portal on a different network, they are having to come in via international route which makes it more expensive and slower to connect.

Moreover, the other benefits of Internet Exchange Points are expected to increase the efficiency in networks and fault tolences by providing multiple paths for connections.

The Imminence of 5G Networks

The new 5G networks will use different set of wavelengths than that is used by 4G/LTE networks and these are higher frequency millimeter waves, known as mmWaves. This spectrum offers much higher bandwidth without latency, however mmWaves transmit at shorter distances, typically at around 300 feet, although distances are being worked on and set to improve. Thus, the new 5G networks will necessitate small-cell sites called nano-masts to be set up in order to transmit and receive signals within their small area of coverage.

Another reason making 5G connected to fiber optic backbone even more necessary is that unlike other previous networks, 5G’s higher frequencies will mean that signals are unable to penetrate buildings, trees and double-glazed windows. Inevitably, more fiber optic cables will be required to connect to these nano-masts in 5G networks.

The point here is for 5G to realize its potential, local Telecom companies will require more dense, high-capacity fibre backhaul networks especially in urban places. This is where coming together in some form of consortium will help them, particularly Somcable/SO! to open up their metro networks to others and monetize it for their own benefits too.


For the first time in the history of Somaliland, local Telecom companies are having to come together and agree on a new framework of partnership and co-ownership in the interest of their businesses and that of the public. No doubt this brings about a new approach and synergies in addressing some of the issues highlighted above. However, it is important that the government takes a leading role in navigating through challenges in a way that is conducive to the advancement of the ICT sector and the general economy for future generations.

Big chance for Taiwan to supply SL and counter China domination of Africa telecom equipment supply providing a much needed alternative!

Chinese technologies embedded in Somaliland Telecoms infrastructure

Huawei and ZTE are very common suppliers of network equipment to Somaliland Telecom operators. Their partnership history goes back in the early 2000 when these big telecoms were just small startups and the phenomenon is the same across Africa. Whilst the old technology of 2G, 3G & 4G are not of great concern at the moment, the new transition for 5G is where the emphasis should be placed. The relevant government agencies should now consult with the local Telcom’s and discuss any potential issues that could be identified in their procurement plans for 5G with an eye of avoiding Chinese suppliers altogether. It just does not make sense to continue business as usual and it is important that the Somaliland government examine the supply chain in all Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) procurements.

Household devices and personal uses for all other devices such as Smartphones, Tablets and Laptops are not of great concern at the moment.

Pursuing Alternative Technology

The silver lining of the new ties with Taipei could come in the form of technological assistance from Taipei by allowing Somaliland access to their considerable technological prowess. Needless to say that Taiwan is a highly developed nation with hugely successful achievements in the technology spheres. The likes of Foxconn (which is by far the largest electronics contract manufacturer in the world) is from Taiwan. This particular company has factories in many countries around the world, including the USA, Japan, Malaysia, Europe, South Korea, India and others. Nearly every major electronics and technology brand in the world have their products manufactured by Foxconn.

The other highly successful technology corporation from Taiwan is HTC, which is one of the first smartphone pioneers and have over the years become a household brand. In 2019, HTC announced that it is going to launch the first ‘Cryptophone’ focused on providing universal finances using Bitcoin through a decentralized portal web. There are others in this field such as Acer, ASUS, GIGABYTE Global and Aorus who specialize in computer and gaming technology components.

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wingu.africa group limited (“Wingu”) is pleased to announce the first phase of its Berbera, Somaliland carrier-neutral data center was commissioned on 13 February 2021 and is now ready for service.

The facility is the first of its kind in Somaliland and is designed to meet Wingu’s customers’ growing demand for digital services.

The data center, as with all Wingu’s facilities, provides open-access to all customers and brings to Somaliland Wingu’s well-established commercial eco-system, developed over 10 years of operating history in East Africa. Local and international customers will benefit from this critical infrastructure, enjoying improved internet speed, reliability, resilience, and enhanced ability to access cloud-based services and other features.

Commenting on the experience of establishing Wingu’s first facility in Somaliland, Mr Anthony Voscarides, Group CEO, noted that “The support and responsiveness of key agencies, Ministries and the Government have been exceptional, allowing us to commission the facility in only five months.”

Mr Demos Kyriacou, Deputy CEO and Chief Operating Officer, added, “The second phase for the Berbera data center is already under preparation and is expected to be operational later this year, as we have received encouraging interest from customers. We look forward to building our business and continuing to offer the highest quality services in the market.”

Wingu is a specialist carrier-neutral data center owner and operator focused on East Africa, and the data center in Somaliland is the latest in a series of new locations being developed, including Addis Ababa, Dar es Salaam and a second facility in Djibouti.

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National Fiber Optic Company (NFOC)

This company purchased the fiber optic terrestrial infrastructure owned by Somcable, and its shareholders are as follows:
• TELESOM Company.
• SOMTEL Company.
• SO! Company.
• Somaliland Government.


Established in 2022, National Fiber Optic Company NFOC is an infrastructure operator specialized in the design, construction, operation and managing of Somaliland fiber optic backbone and metro networks, NFOC is committed to the economic development and attractiveness of the horn of Africa by deploying optical fiber networks and offer capacity to the operators and government so that citizens benefit services.

Once the planned cables that are intended to land in Berbera are completed and operating, Berbera could become a major alternative route for Ethiopia to increase the resilience of its international connectivity.

As wingu.africa we are proud to now be operating Somaliland’s first carrier-neutral data center, strategically located in Berbera. With this first facility we are immediately able to serve local enterprise customers and a growing number of international operators and submarine cable systems.

We greatly appreciate the support we have received from the Ministry of Investment and Industrial Development as well as other key Ministries and Agencies, and we look forward to making further investments in the country.

Our data center is designed to meet our customers’ growing demand for digital services. Customers will benefit from this critical infrastructure, ensuring reliable and open access to cloud-based data, cloud services, and more. Furthermore, within the Wingu group we now have carrier-neutral facilities in Djibouti, Ethiopia and Tanzania as well as Somaliland, providing unrivaled connectivity and open access in all of these important markets.

We are pleased to now have Somaliland as part of our East Africa focused dynamic and growing ecosystem and welcome all enquiries.

Is the interconnection point?