Because even a Somalian pirate's gotta text

Finally, mobile phone coverage comes to the Gulf of Aden


Andrew Leonard
November 20, 2009 1:56AM (UTC)

No matter how anarchic, war-torn, chaotic and completely dysfunctional a pseudo nation-state might be, in 2009, a brave entrepreneur can still make money selling mobile phone service.

From Reuters via Roving Bandit (which bills itself "Probably the Best Economics Blog in Southern Sudan), we get a story on the  thriving mobile phone market in Somalia).

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First, another entry in the "lead sentences I wish I had written" category:

Somalia's mobile phone business is booming despite the almost daily artillery fire that flies over expensive satellite dishes and the violence that has brought misery to the population of the Horn of Africa nation.

But here's the money quote:

Besides being crucial for keeping in touch with family, insurgents say they receive orders for attacks by text message, African Union peacekeeping soldiers are bombarded with threatening calls from rebels and government depends on mobiles.

One telecoms firm is also expanding its network to coastal ports used by pirates, who make thousands of dollars from ransom payments from ship-owners but have to rely on expensive satellite phones at the moment.

Which raises the question: What kind of texting plan does a Somali pirate need? And is there an app for that?


Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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