Hormuud Telecom, the largest telecommunications company, is facing operational challenges in areas under Al-Shabaab control .

Al-Shabaab militants have denied Hormuud’s operations in their territories and issued an ultimatum for the company to shutdown its services in the districts of  Jilib in Middle Juba, areas in lower Juba, Kunya Barow in lower Shabelle, and other areas in Bay, Bakool, Hiiraan region in the southcentral Somalia.

Hormuud telecom officials have confirmed the authenticity of the issue to Mogadishu24, though they refrained from providing further details.

The actions taken by Al-Shabaab have negatively impacted local communities residing in the affected districts, where Hormuud telecom services, including mobile money services like EVC, have been widely used.

The shutdown has left many families unable to access their funds through Hormuud’s mobile money services, a platform used by 95% of the community members residing in the affected regions.

“We’ve been greatly affected by this problem. For the past month, we’ve faced challenges withdrawing money from EVC due to Hormuud’s service shutdown. We were forced to travel to other districts to withdraw funds from our Hormuud mobile accounts. Many families who relied on receiving money from relatives had to travel long distances to access the withdrawal services,” shared a mother who traveled to Mogadishu for cash withdrawal from Hormuud.

This is not the first time tensions between Al-Shabaab and Hormuud arises. They two entities have experienced misunderstandings, largely due to financial issues, with Al-Shabaab demanding huge finances from the company.

As an alternative, Al-Shabaab has turned to Somtel, a company owned by Dahabshiil, a Somali money transfer company owned in Somaliland.

Scholars and community leaders have raised alarm over Al-Shabaab’s interest and affiliation with Somtel. They argued that this affiliation is rooted in tribal connections between Al-Shabaab leaders and Somtel’s owners, who both hail from Somaliland.

“The actions taken by Al-Shabaab against Hormuud need to be questioned critically. Why would they target one company while allowing another to dominate the region? What is their motive and hidden Agenda? It seems to be a combination of clan affiliations between Al-Shabaab leaders and Somtel’s ownership, both originating from Somaliland’s Diir Clan. Beyond this, the competition between Hormuud and Somtel also plays a role,” disclosed an anonymous scholar for security reasons.

Mogadishu24 uderstands that Hormuud Telcom was behind the move taken by the community leaders in Mogadishu who comment on the issue in a very sensitive way which later to the removal of video clips regarding to the speech to this matter.

On June 17th, 2023, Hormuud Telecom experienced a devastating setback when its site in Saakow district was subjected to an airstrike by the Kenya Defense Forces. Shocking images captured at the scene depict the extent of the damage inflicted on the facility.

After the attack on the facility, Hormuud Telecom released a statement expressing deep sorrow and acknowledging the huge losses incurred by both the company and the community that heavily relied on their essential services.

“The attack resulted in significant damage to their facilities and disrupted their telecommunications and mobile money service, known as EVC Plus. The consequences of the attack have had a profound impact, causing financial losses to over 60,000 individuals who depend on Hormuud Telecom’s services,” Hormuud’s statement reads.

Al-Shabaab militants did not comment on the latest shutdown on Hormuud Telcom services which impacted lives of the communities into those regions.

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