Somalia has received its first 5G installation, cranking up a series of reforms to revamp its economy after joining the East Africa Community (EAC).

Hormuud Telecom Somalia Inc., its largest telco, rolled out faster internet speeds last month, signalling budding growth in the country’s digital services industry.

“As Somalia strides towards stability, the launch of 5G services by Hormuud Telecom emerges as a critical milestone. This initiative is more than just a technological advancement, it’s a symbol of our nation’s commitment to growth and constant improvement,” said Somalia’s Telecommunications Minister Jama Hassan Khalif.

The immediate benefit of this rollout, according to Hormuud, is the seamless upgrade for its 4G customers to 5G at no additional cost, ensuring that a broad base of users instantly enjoy improved internet speed and reliability. A 5G service promises to enhance connectivity and efficiency, aiding the country’s integration into the regional economy and stimulating trade and investment.

The network will initially be accessible in major cities, offering 81% coverage, indicating the extensive reach of the new technology nationwide, the service provider said.

“The network will initially be accessible in Mogadishu, Kismayo, Galkayo and Baidoa, as well as Dhusamareeb, Beledwayne, Afgoye, Merca and Dhobley,” Hormuud said in a statement.

After years of investor reticence and minimal foreign direct investment flows, Somalis themselves have taken significant steps to alter their economic destiny.

Hormuud Telecom, a domestically established firm since 2002, promotes itself as a company “built by Somalis for Somalis.”

Operating from Mogadishu, the company is Somalia’s leading telecom provider, the largest private-sector employer, and the first Somali private enterprise to attain international ISO certification.

With over 12,000 shareholders, all of whom are Somali nationals, Hormuud has grown from the 283 founders who initially started the company. 

Given the widespread reliance on mobile money services among the Somali population, particularly among those without access to traditional banking facilities, the introduction of 5G is also expected to significantly boost the efficiency and security of financial transactions.

Somalia’s formal integration into the EAC came after its Minister of Commerce and Industry, Jibril Abdirashid Haji Abdi, presented the instrument of ratification of the treaty of accession to EAC Secretary-General Peter Mathuki on March 4, 2023, in Arusha, Tanzania.

Its accession to the regional block comes after decades of hesitance due to factional political conflicts that had engulfed it in civil war. As active participation in EAC activities increases, robust digital infrastructure will be essential for further cross-border trade, investment, and collaboration. 

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