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Internet back in Somalia after weeks-long outage

Monday, July 17, 2017

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MOGADISHU, Somalia (AFP) — Somalia rejoined the world wide web on Monday, more than three weeks after internet access was cut when a container ship damaged an undersea cable connecting the Horn of Africa nation to the world.

"The technical issue, which has disrupted the internet connection, is resolved and the service is now resumed," telecommunications minister Abdi Anshur Hassan told a press conference in the capital Mogadishu.

The blackout affected the majority of the 6.5 million people living in Somalia's south-central region, cutting off access to everything from hotel booking sites to remittance platforms and costing $10 million (nine million euros) each day in lost business, according to a government estimate.

The outage started in late June when a container ship, believed to be the Panama-flagged MSC Alice, accidentally dragged its anchor through the main fibre optic cable connecting Somalia to the internet as it was docking outside Mogadishu's port.

Despite years of conflict, Somalia is home to a thriving telecommunications sector that drives businesses and allows Somalis in the country to communicate with the estimated two million-strong diaspora population.

By themselves, remittances from abroad make up $1.4 billion annually, or a quarter of the country's GDP, according to a World Bank estimate.

In the capital, young people greeted the news that the internet was back with jubilation.

"You cannot imagine how happy I am today. The internet is back and I can browse to read and publish all my delayed posts on Facebook," university student Farhiyo Adan said, likening the weeks without social media to "being in a dark room alone."

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