The government of Somaliland denied that it had any advance information of a submarine fibre optic internet cable entering the country from Berbera.
“The government of Somaliland has no advance information, neither has it granted permission to, a submarine fibre optic cable to make its entry point at the Red Sea port of Berbera,” Abdiweli Abdullahi Sheikh Yussuf, the Minister for Telecommunication, Posts and Technology, said today speaking to the press.
The Minister admitted, however, that he was aware that Somtel, one of the giant providers of Internet services, alongside Telesom and Somcable, had a stake in the enterprise. He also made established the fact that the cable was a regional one without making the distinction how the Republic of Somaliland was not part of the region especially at a time when the country was fighting for a regional acceptance.
“Djibouti has not communicated with us on this matter. The cable belongs to Djibouti although it is meant to benefit the whole region,” he said.
“As far as I am aware of,” he added, “the government has granted permission for the provision of such a service to Somcable alone,” he stated, adding that it was the only Internet company which his ministry has entered an MOU with.
“The Ministry has given Somcable a 25-year concession and the agreement between the Ministry and Somcable passed into a Bill following a legislative approval by the parliament.
The Minister, however, chose to omit the fact that Somcable has subleased the service from Djibouti which makes it dependent on that country for its Somaliland concession, too.
The Prime Minister of Djibouti inaugurated the operational services of the Cable at a grand ceremony held in Djibouti on Monday, announcing that Djibouti owned a 89% share of the DARE 1 submarine cable which is planned to reach up to Mombasa branching off, on the way, to Berbera of the Republic of Somaliland, Bossasso of the Somalia Federal State of Somalia, Mogadishu, the seat of the Somalia Federal Government.
Somtel signed an 11% stakeholder share with Djibouti in October 2018.
The government of Somaliland has, also, denied entry of another cable in which Telesom had a stake. The giant telecom provider entered an agreement with OmanTel in February 2016 for another submarine fibre optic cable that would have entered the country from Puntland.
Given the poor and unreliable performance of Somcable since it was given the controversial exclusive rights, many voices had been raised calling for the annulment of the monopoly.
The incumbent government made it known through unofficial channels that it understood the concern and need for an alternative provider(s).
President Bihi has paid a visit to the Headquarters of the DARE 1 cable in his last but one visit to Djibouti mid-2019. It is believed he gave a positive reception to the planned routes of the cable which included Somaliland.
It is not yet known, at this stage, if the President would agree with his technology minister or reverse the caustic comments he made at today’s press conference.
For a country that boasts of a free economy, the contradiction monopolies pose on its reputation needs to be corrected without fail.
Unlike Somcable, Somtel and Telesom also provide a number of other, indispensable services which include mobile banking and GSM.
Somtel Telecom International is part of Dahabshiil Group of companies which include the worldwide money transfer wing, Dahabshiil Pvt ltd (a.k.a. DMT), Dahabshiil Bank International, and the East African Bank in Djibouti.