(ERGO) – Shukri Abdulqadir Dirie, a livestock trader in central Somalia’s Galgadud region, has not been able to buy or sell any goats for two months because the mobile network in her area has been disrupted, putting her family’s livelihood at risk.
Shukri used to buy 10 goats a day from the local livestock market in Bahdo-Gabo using mobile money. She sold them in bigger markets in Galkayo and Adado, making $50 a week as a living for her family of six.
But two months ago, the centre run by Hormuud telecommunications company closed without explanation, switching off the mobile phone and money transfer services.
Residents of Galgadud stopped using Somali shillings four years ago, so there is no cash in circulation to keep business going. Everything has been dependent on mobile money.
“No one takes cash in this area,” Shukri said. “Men walk for 20 to 40 kilometres in search of network whenever they want to buy something, but for us women we can’t walk that far all the time.”
Shukri spoke with Radio Ergo’s local reporter while in Ruqsay village, 40 km away from Bahdo-Gabo settlement, where she had walked that day in search of network to buy essentials.
She said she had to move out of her rented house as she could not pay the $15 rent and put up a hut where the family is now living.
“I have a little money in my phone that I use for the family’s daily needs. We walk 40 km to buy goods from the areas that have network. It is depressing that we have the money in our phones, but we can’t use it,” she said.
Most of the businesses in Bahdo-Gabo area have been shut since the network went down. The few that are open such as eateries are selling on credit only to those customers they know in person.
Rage Abdi Ali has been running his small restaurant for 10 years. He closed the place for a week when transactions ground to a halt, but has now decided to open it on alternate days on a credit only basis. As a father of 10, he is banking on the network being restored soon in order to survive.
“Most of the customers come here and ask if I can sell them food on credit. They tell us they will send money after they get to somewhere with network,” said Rage. “The problem is I can’t verify if they have sent the money as I don’t have network. I am running into losses and might have to close soon.”
Rage said he has failed to pay his four children’s school fees for two months. They are studying in Adado, where they stay with relatives.The local authority in Bahdo-Gabo reported that a number of livestock herders had left the area due to the network problem. The authority has contacted Hormuud to ask them to restore their former services but have not received any feedback yet.