The digital media landscape is characterised by the dominant role its diaspora plays. When it comes to online news media the diaspora dominates the environment.
According to the International Telecommunication Union, which in 2009 presented a profile on Internet usage in Arab states (22 countries, including Somalia), Internet penetration is below 5 percent in Somalia. Also, these Internet penetration levels put Somalia at the bottom of international league tables. Yet, this has not stopped the growth in digital media platforms. In 2017, Somalia experienced an Internet connection breakdown for three weeks, costing the country about US$10m a day.
There are hundreds of Somali news websites but not all of them are constantly reliable. Existing exceptions are websites such as Hiraan.com and Horseedmedia.net. Many websites are linked to radio stations and news from international news agencies, which they translate in Somali or simply republish. Also, Somalia-based news websites often republish content that first appeared on international media outlets of the diaspora.
Nonetheless the explosion in digital media outlets has led to the creation of a rich transnational Somali online media environment, where all manners of subjects are debated and contested.
More broadly the digital media revolution has transformed the Somali society, perhaps even more than other factors, mostly because of the society’s propensity for oral culture. Somalis have innovated digital media and mobile technology not just in the delivery of news but broadly as an important facet of the economy, for example with money transfer business.