National Communications Authority (NCA) Issues First Somali Radio Spectrum Licence

The National Communications Authority (NCA) has issued Somalia’s first spectrum licence to the country’s largest telecommunications provider, Hormuud Telecom.

As part of the licence, Hormuud has won the rights to use the following frequency bands 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1.8 GHz, 2.1 GHz, 2.3 GHz, 2.6 GHz, and 3.5 GHz.

Spectrum is a sovereign asset, meaning radio frequencies, and the use of airwaves is allocated to mobile providers in the country through the issuance of licenses by the domestic government, or designated national regulatory authority.

Somalia Minister of Communications and Technology (MOCT), H.E. 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 National Communications Authority (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.”

Radio spectrum licenses regulate telecommunications providers’ use of a country’s radio frequencies and airwaves to deliver their services. They are a vital source of revenue for governments worldwide. 

Mobile phone penetration in Somalia is high. It is estimated that 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 $2.7 billion. Only 6% now use cash.

In February 2022 the NCA established the Unified Licensing Framework, urging operators in the information and communications sectors to submit applications for spectrum licenses. 

With various spectrum bands already in use across the country, licences will be issued upon application and not by auction. It’s expected that the adoption of these spectrum licences will promote open markets, competition, and investment in the telecoms sector. 

Speaking on the news, 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.”

The issuance of the licence marks a significant step in the formalisation of the regulatory environment in Somalia. In 2021 the Central Bank of Somalia introduced a national payments system, and later the same year issued the country’s first mobile money licence.

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