Somalia internet loss ‘major disaster’

Somalia’s government says an ongoing internet outage that affects southern Somalia, and was caused by damage to an undersea fibre-optic cable more than two weeks ago is costing the country $10m (£7.7m) each day.

The post and telecommunications minister, Abdi Anshur Hassan, told a press conference Saturday that Somalia has lost more than $130 million so far. The loss of internet service has sparked anger across Somalia and affected the central and southern parts of the country including the capital, Mogadishu.

Officials and internet providers have attributed the problem to a commercial ship that they said cut an undersea cable.

Following the damage to Fibre-Optic connection, communication companies resorted to the satellite to access the Internet. However, the remedy was weak and unable to cope with the huge demand.

Communications and Technology minister Abdi Anshur Hassan predicted that the problem would take about a week to resolve.

The northern regions like Somaliland and Puntland were connected to a separate Fibre-Optic, especially from neighbouring Djibouti.

After more than 20 years of conflict, internet usage is low in Somalia, with just 1.6% of the population online in 2014, according to estimates by the International Telecommunication Union.

That same year, 3G mobile phone services in southern Somalia were cut off because of a threat from al-Shabab Islamist militants and the ban has stayed in place ever since.

Satellite internet is available, but users complain that it is costly and slow.

Internet cafes have therefore proved popular in towns and cities, as they provide more reliable connectivity.

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