Friday July 24, 2020
By Jenna Delport
Clients browse the internet at a cyber cafe in Mogadishu, in Somalia July 18, 2017. Feisal Omar/Reuters
One of Somalia’s largest telecommunications providers, Hormuud Telecoms has announced that it’s aiming to reach 100% of the Somali population with mobile money financial services.
Telecommunications have grown substantially in Somalia over the past 10 years. With over 11 different providers now present in the market, the average costs of 1GB bundles have fallen to the lowest levels compared with any other nation in Africa or the Middle East.
For a country long affected by civil war and unrest, the news offers a rare insight into the changing shape of the business community within Somalia.
In Somali urban centres, mobile money penetration now stands at over 80%. Even in rural Somalia the mobile money penetration rate of 55%. A World Bank report published in 2018 found that almost three-quarters of the Somali population aged 16 and older use mobile money. By comparison, in Nigeria, the continent’s largest economy, only 39.7% of adults had mobile money accounts in 2018.
In a country where over 95% of the local currency – the Somali Shilling – is thought to be counterfeit, the widespread adoption of mobile money technology has provided the foundations for business and commerce to remerge in the country. Sparking job creation, a steep rise in local investment and the narrowing of the gender gap in financial life.
Two different studies covered in a recent World Bank report showed that after faster Internet services started to become widely available in Sub Saharan Africa, the probability of an individual finding a job improved by between 7% to 13%. Estimates also suggested that the faster the interest the higher the employment rate for those who did not complete primary school.
“It’s an incredible achievement that Somalia has one of the lowest data costs for countries in Africa. And it’s a testimony to the huge strides that the country has taken to increase our digital infrastructure, making it easily accessible and affordable to the most vulnerable members in our communities,” says Hormuud’s CEO, Ahmed Muhamud Yuusuf.
“As CEO of Hormuud, we will challenge ourselves daily to achieve this target, providing the best services and prices to our customers. The next step in our journey is to reach 100% of mobile money penetration. We know that mobile money is vital to Somalia’s post-COVID development, allowing urban and rural communities to flourish, empowering the most vulnerable and widening financial inclusion.”
“More recently we’ve also seen how incredibly important access to telecoms and internet has been to public health during the COVID-19 outbreak.”