Mobile network ecosystem
It is extremely difficult to get accurate data about the coverage and accessibility of mobile and Internet penetration. It is this author’s belief that the official statistics tend to be far lower than actual rates of access. The ITU, for example, estimates that in 2016 just 1.9 percent of Somalis have access to the Internet. 3G coverage is thought to be higher at 38.7 percent of the population and 58.1 percent of Somalis are estimated to have mobile cellular subscriptions (ITU 2017). LTE, 3G and satellite connectivity services have been offered for several years. In late 2018 4G services were also introduced in Mogadishu and the surrounding areas to help boost the e-business sector (Nation 2018). Given the ongoing conflict, the competitive nature of the industry (including private and unlicensed mobile companies), and the lack of government regulation, accurate data is difficult to obtain. Families may share mobile phones, which increases access significantly.
Internet and mobile access are comparatively inexpensive due to the significant competition between companies. The mobile and Internet infrastructure has been developed by private companies. This has made government plans to enact more efficient tax collection, as outlined in the 2017 Communications Act, political and problematic as companies argue that they have invested significant resources in building an infrastructure that the state should have provided but has been unable to do so due to the continuing conflict.