Somaliland, an East African state recognized as a de jure part of Somalia, has received its first-ever commercial fifth-generation network connection.
The launch, which includes Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) services, is courtesy of a partnership between the government and Telesom, a front-runner in the state's telecoms market.
Telesom, a private, local-owned firm that came to market in 2002 and now has bragging rights to its first mobile money service, unveiled the project at its headquarters in Hargeisa, the jurisdiction's capital city.
Somaliland's Vice President Abdirahman Abdilahi Ismail Saylici, Minister of Information, Communication & Technology Ahmed Yousuf Idiris, and Minister of Investment and Industrial Development Abdirisaq Ibrahim Mohamed, attended the event. The Mayor of Hargeisa, Abdikarim Ahmed Mooge, was also present.
According to Telesom, in addition to Hargeisa, the next-gen connectivity service is available in 12 other urbanities in the state, including Burco, Buuhoodle, Boboma, Bebera, Erigavo, Gabiley, Laascaanood, Sheekh, and Xudun.
This achievement sees Somaliland go against the tides. While it joins some of its East African neighbors in the fifth-gen club, it is one of the first African low-income markets to deploy the network. Its closest neighbor, Somalia, made its [own] debut on January 4, 2024, courtesy of Somtel.
The state has been moreover clapped between armed conflicts, a long civil war that has escalated in the past year and brought about diplomatic tensions with Ethiopia, Sudan, and Somalia.
There is no telling how much 5G and FWA services would cost subscribers. However, Somaliland, as an extension of Somalia, is known to have one of the cheapest mobile data plans in Africa, with 1 GB sold for $0.50 on average.
Per a report by Somalibiz, 95% of Somaliland's 3.5 million people have telephone and internet coverage, though feature phones are more commonplace in comparison to 5G-enabled devices.
It is also important to note that Somaliland has bragging rights to one of the world's most active mobile money markets. 26% of the population use mobiles to pay bills, and 32% to send and receive money. This has largely been driven by Telesom ZAAD.