The Somali government is coming under increasing pressure to address al-Shabaab's increasingly ambitious plans to ban the internet after services were recently suspended in areas under direct government control, including the capital
The Somali government has not issued an official statement since al-Shabaab's 15-day ultimatum in early January to telecommunication companies to stop providing mobile and high-speed fibre-optic internet services.
But to the surprise and dismay of many, on
"It exposes a weakness that [al-Shabaab militants] who are themselves in hiding have been able to carry out an order in a place where the entire government operates," said Mohamed Omar Dalha, a member of the Somali parliament.
He said the government needs to take immediate measures to counteract the internet blackout, including asking the international community for help.
"This shows the bad record of the government," he told Sabahi. "The people cannot be satisfied with 'We are a government, but we will not bring governance.'"
"Is the government waiting until regular telephone service and other internet services are cut off? What will the government use to communicate because it does not have its own telecommunication service?" he said.
"If [the company] ignores the order, al-Shabaab will loot their property in the areas under its control. It can also carry out explosions and attacks in the other centres that are located in the areas under the federal government's rule," he told Sabahi, adding that the only solution to the problem is for the government to carry out a military intervention to liberate the areas under al-Shabaab control.
Internet ban crippling Somalia's development:
"Mobile internet was used by university and [secondary] school students to meet the assignments they are given because the country does not have adequate libraries, so they use the internet to easily do their research," Hassan said. "Most of them cannot afford to install the other [more expensive] internet service in their homes."
The ban also negatively affects the Somali economy in that citizens can no longer use the internet to monitor global exchange rates and promote their businesses, he said, adding that it also increases costs for Somalis to stay connected to the world.
Considering that "the country's [population] is 67% youth and they use the internet", he said the internet blackout also shuts down the rapidly growing and popular social media use among Somalis.
"I used mobile internet to research the assignments I receive from my instructors," Ahmed told Sabahi. "I cannot do that research these days because I do not have internet."
"My friends and I had a group on Whatsapp [... ] in which we would select an important topic to debate and share intellectual views," he said.
"We also visited hospitals to interview the patients and then we posted the questions and answers on the Whatsapp group so that other students can try to guess what the patient is suffering from, but we do not have that opportunity now," Ahmed said.
He said he has no other option to substitute for mobile internet because of the high cost of installing a line on a home computer that he does not have. "Also, even if I get [a home computer], it is stationary and I cannot use it everywhere I go."
Government should 'give al-Shabaab an ultimatum'
Adedd Sheikhdon, chairman of
"Al-Shabaab's move was a bad decision in that it wants to undermine the public," he told Sabahi. "It wants to set the people back, it wants an ignorant population that listens to its group only, and it is against modernisation."
Sheikhdon called on the government to collaborate with the public and present them with a strategy and plan they can support. He also called on the public to rise up against al-Shabaab.
"They have to unite their voice, protest and create an uprising, and the government has to give these men an ultimatum," he said.
He said telecommunications companies also have to financially support the government so that al-Shabaab can be eliminated. "Otherwise al-Shabaab will do what it wants."
Sabahi contacted Somali Minister of Information
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