Somali rebel group al-Shabab has closed the offices of a trio of local telecommunications companies in the south and central regions of the country, after the firms failed to meet demands to pay around USD130,000 to the militant group. Mareeg Online reports that telecoms operators Nationlink and Telcom Somalia and money transfer agency Dahabshil have had their operations suspended. Last year al-Shabab imposed a ban on a mobile money transfer service known as ‘Zaad’, claiming that mobile banking had led to a decline in the use of the Somali shilling, and could expose the country to interference by Western countries through the international partners of the Somali telecoms firms.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Somalia’s telecoms market is completely unregulated, enabling firms such as Hormuud Telecom (HorTel) and Nationlink to freely install and operate their own networks as they choose. Before 1991 the country’s communications networks were under government control, but following the onset of the civil war, the entire telecoms infrastructure was all but destroyed. New infrastructure has since sprung up, installed by a number of small local operators protected by militias, offering mobile and fixed telephony services, including local, long-distance and international calls.