Somcable – Building Imagination
Somcable is a state-of-the-art unified fibre optic network company based in Somaliland, with a vision of laying cable infrastructure throughout the remaining areas of the Horn of Africa.
Somcable (abbreviated from Somaliland Cable) was established with a clear vision: to vigorously lead Somaliland into the digital revolution and fibre optic experience of the 21st century by connecting East Africa to the rest of the world. This will enable business opportunities and the development of the region.
Founded in 2009 by Mohamed Said Guedi, a local businessman, in 2015 Somcable became the first service provider to offer a fibre optic network in Somaliland covering more than 1,700 km. The company owns and operates a terrestrial backbone infrastructure. It is based in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, and is part of the MSG Group of companies.
Mohamed Said Guedi, the company founder and the Group Chairman, commented: “I was extremely passionate about uplifting the quality of data access and business growth in the Horn of Africa region. With the desire to create a brighter future for Somalis and connect them to the world through a quality backbone infrastructure making this more likely.”
Somcable currently owns land fibre cable infrastructure from Djibouti interconnected with Ethiopia via Wajaale to the shores of Berbera Somaliland, with links to Puntland, and covers over 80% of Somaliland with additional works in planning to connect to Mogadishu, Somalia.
Beating the odds
The progress the company has made to date is impressive, and even more so given the volatility of the region. Somcable has been through extreme physical and hostile ethnopolitical conditions in the world unlike any other telecommunication company to date and has overcome all these challenges to make its development a success story. Just the terrains where the infrastructure had to be established were one of the biggest hurdles to overcome, and overcoming the distrust of local communities was another.
However, the company has managed to achieve a task many had thought was impossible: although this was not an easy feat to achieve, Somcable was successful in bringing fibre optic technology to a region that is mostly viewed by the world as unstable and hostile.
As expected, the human factor has been the key element of this achievement; Somcable boasts of a workforce with the brightest minds from the Horn of Africa due to its very robust hiring and promotion policies that ensure that the best minds and skilled workers advance to their best-suited positions within the organisation.
In addition to this, Somcable has an internship programme that selects the best of the best graduates and then offers training and real-world experience, based on which new permanent staff from among the brightest interns are selected at the end of the programme.
The employee pool is mainly locals with some joining Somcable from countries such as Pakistan, India, Kenya, the UK and the US.
The network infrastructure used by Somcable is designed with redundant paths for traffic to ensure network connectivity at all times. The metropolitan network (metro) within Hargeisa has three redundant rings that cover most of the city, and there are also metro networks in Boramo, Berbera and Burco that will allow these cities to have fibre network coverage.
The next-generation fibre network is based on IP over DWDM (dense wavelength division multiplexing) which at present is capable of transmitting data at over 400 GB/s. DWDM-based networks can carry different types of traffic at different speeds securely over an optical channel. Currently, the network is undergoing an upgrade.
Said Mohamed, the company’s Vice Chairman, who has been with the company from its very beginning and helped to design its initial business plan, says: “We are the largest, terrestrial fibre optic infrastructure provider in Somalia and Somaliland. We provide backbone infrastructure, connected to submarine cables, which is the prime source of capacity and connects us to Europe. We serve as a neutral company, operating an access-to-all policy, something which is very scarce in this region.”
He further noted that the company is going to expand the network further. “As we are connected to Africa’s second-largest population, Ethiopia, it is important to have our own submarine cables and we are progressing towards that goal.”
Berbera was chosen as a strategic location that Somcable would be using to land its international submarine cable and host a carrier-neutral data centre.
The arrival of the first submarine cable to Berbera is expected to be in March 2022 and additional cables are planned to follow thereafter.
Somcable has engaged in various charitable ventures that aim to uplift the general quality of life of the less fortunate within the community. Somcable funds numerous charity projects in the education sector and is currently providing free fibre-backed WIFI hotspot internet in the areas where the community is challenged in receiving access to the internet and data. The company has also made major contributions to the construction and improvement of the local road infrastructure.
Speaking about the future, Mr Mohamed acknowledges that Somcable has set its sights on transforming Berbera into an emerging international submarine cable and data centre hub by 2022, facilitating interconnection across the entire Horn of Africa region. The plan is also to expand the network to Mogadishu, some 2,200 km away, by mid-2023.
“This will enable business opportunities and development of the region. We are committed to being a customer-oriented and innovative provider of unique communication services across Somaliland and elsewhere in east Africa. We aim to be the leading company in this market and aspire to provide affordable communication services that
meet and exceed our customers’ requirements and expectations.”
He affirms that Somcable has made significant steps in securing financial investments for this activity and is proudly working on its ISO accreditation.
“In a challenging environment Somcable strives to uphold and maintains its corporate compliance. It welcomes all future partners as it operates an open access policy and guarantees the best service for all.”