Somalia’s National Communications Authority (NCA) has issued the country’s first spectrum licence to telecommunications provider, Hormuud Telecom.
In a recent announcement of the licence, Hormuud won the rights to use frequency bands including 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1.8 GHz, 2.1 GHz, 2.3 GHz, 2.6 GHz, and 3.5 GHz.
According to the announcement, spectrum is described as a sovereign asset meaning radio frequencies, and the use of airwaves is allocated to mobile providers through the issuance of licenses by the domestic government, or designated national regulatory authority.
Somalia Minister of Communications and Technology Jama Hassan Khalif said: “The Government of Somalia is committed to transforming the nation into one of the most digitally inclusive societies in the world. To achieve our ambition, we require strong private-public partnerships as well as a robust regulatory environment.
“We are pleased to award Hormuud Telecom with the first spectrum license. Today marks a major milestone for the industry and our country at large. We believe that together, with private organisations such as Hormuud, we can push our nation’s digitalisation agenda forward.”
Abdullahi Abdulaziz, Director of the NCA said: “The NCA’s mission is to create a competitive environment where innovation and investment into the telecommunications sector can flourish through effective regulation. The issuance of the radio spectrum license is an important step towards achieving this aim.
“The radio license gets us all one step closer to unlocking the potential that we know Somalia, and our people, have to offer.”
NCA stats show that an estimated 90% of Somalis have access to a mobile phone, while 70% of Somalis have access to 4G coverage.
Every month Somalis conduct over 155 million transactions, worth US$2.7-billion. Only 6% now use cash.
In February 2022 the NCA established the Unified Licensing Framework, urging ICT operators to submit applications for spectrum licenses.
Authorities said with various spectrum bands already in use across the country, licences will be issued upon application and not by auction.
Hormuud Telecom’s CEO Ahmed Mohamud Yuusuf said: “The formalisation of spectrum licences is another example of the fantastic work underway to bring stability, structure, and growth to the Somali economy. As Somali’s largest telecommunications provider, we’re crucially aware of the immense responsibility we play in the lives of many. We’re honoured to have been awarded this licence.”
In 2012, Hormuud Telecom announced plans to extend its 4G phone network across the country, and is aiming to provide nationwide coverage by 2023.
Hormuud began expanding its 4G network capacity in 2015 in partnership with the Somalia Ministry of Telecommunications, who estimates that across the country, over 11.25 million Somalis (representing 70% of Somalia’s 15 million population), now have access to 4G internet.