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AndreA (Offline)
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Join Date: 13 Jan 2004
Location: Florence, Italy

Default 11-10-2006, 16:20

Somalia: failed state, GR8 mbl ntwrk

Somalia has had little enough to celebrate in recent years. The beleaguered Horn of Africa country has had no centralised government since the deposition of Mahammad Siad Barre in 1991.
However, against all the odds, one area of the economy is booming. Telecommunications have taken a firm hold, following the arrival of the first mobile phones in 1995. Somalia now boasts three network providers.
Mustafa Sheikh, a Somali-American educated at Berkeley, is Business Director of Telecom Somalia. "Opportunities are unlimited", he explains, "and the market is far from saturation." With no government there are no taxes or regulatory costs. "We have the cheapest international calls in the world," boasts Sheikh. It costs just US50c per minute to call out of the country.
Communications have also made a real difference to everyday life.
Mogadishu resident Hassan Barise maintains that "the mobile phones have improved the security of the city. People warn if there is fighting, or road blocks."
Aid agencies rely on the technology too. "We always stress three different kinds of communication at all times" says Barry Stein, Security Advisor to the Somali NGO consortium, "mobile phone, satellite phone and high-frequency radio."
Somalia's telecommunications are free market capitalism taken to the ultimate degree. But a lawless environment creates problems as well as opportunities. "You are always worried", admits Mustafa Sheikh, "how much security are you going to need?"
Even though it might cut profits, he hopes for change. "We are in serious need of government. As long as it's friendly to business that is!"

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