The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

TV sales, satellite providers grow in Somali capital amid militant attacks on public places

  • Print

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Inside the small office, the line of sweating clients waiting to renew their satellite TV subscriptions keeps growing. Technicians crimp wires and test signal strength of boxes while others go to homes across the Somali capital to install new systems or fix faulty ones.

The TV business is booming in Somalia, in part because of fears by people of gathering in public places like restaurants that are targeted for deadly attacks by the al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab.

Movie theatres, long a source of entertainment for Mogadishu residents, have been shuttered following a wave of terrorist attacks. Many Somalis consider restaurants and hotels too dangerous to visit. And the Somali National Theater, which had started to pick up a large following after al-Shabab was ousted from Mogadishu in 2011 by African Union military forces, suffered a major blow after it was bombed in 2012 in an attack that killed dozens of people.

With the militants using violence to impose bans on modern cultural events, TV sales are going up, in turn fuelling demand for satellite TV services.

Access TV, a satellite service, was launched in 2012 and offers world news, local news and sports— a mix that many Somalis like. In the past, three satellite dishes were required to receive all that but now only one is needed, along with the receiver.

"It's a quick sure-fire venture and demand is exceptionally high," said Abdirizak Hassan Muse, who manages the Access TV office in Mogadishu.

On a recent day, a technician from Access TV went up onto the white sun-splashed roof of the company's offices in this seaside capital to adjust the signal received by large satellite dishes. The shell-pocked city stretched out below him

With more than 5,000 subscribers, Access TV is a flourishing business. Its website says 100 channels are on offer. Five other companies offering similar services have opened in Mogadishu. Sports channels, especially those showing European soccer leagues, are the most popular.

In a country that until just a couple of years ago was notorious for piracy — the real kind with the seizing of cargo ships and yachts — and other lawlessness, some wonder about legitimacy of the providers. Ahmed Muhummed, an economist in Mogadishu, said there is "doubt that such operations are wholly legitimate."

The cost is relatively cheap. In addition to the $60 installation fee for Access TV, each customer pays $8 a month. Muse said business is growing so fast that his company had to train and hire freelance technicians in order to meet the demands.

Shops selling TV also report growing demand, with flat screens the most sought after. A 51-inch flat-screen TV now sells for $700 compared with $500 just year ago. A 40-inch flat screen TV goes for $400.

For Abdulaziz Yasin, a new subscriber to Access TV, the service means he can get entertainment at home without having to venture out to find it.

"Cinemas were better, but with this service we can at least avoid the unsafe public gatherings," he said. "We hope peace will come, so that we can have fun at any location of our choice."

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Interview with Bobbi Ethier of Wasylycia-Leis campaign

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • MIKE.DEAL@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 100615 - Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 The Mane Attraction - Lions are back at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. Xerxes a 3-year-old male African Lion rests in the shade of a tree in his new enclosure at the old Giant Panda building.  MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • A group of Horese pose for the camera in the early evening light at Southcreek Stables in Stl Norbert Wednessday. Sept  14, 2011 (RUTH BONNEVILLE) / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Has the attack on Parliament hill shaken your faith in Canada's ability to protect its citizens from terrorist threats?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google