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Monday, September 27, 1999 Published at 18:39 GMT 19:39 UK

World: Africa

Somalia to go online

One of the last remaining countries in Africa to be without Internet services - Somalia - is going online.

Despite the fact that the country has no sustainable infrastructure and is plagued by factional violence an Internet service provider is about to set up operations.

Olympic Computers Network Administrator Ibrahim Abdulkadir Sheikh says his company will provide Internet services not just in the capital Mogadishu but also in Merca town, Borama and the capital city of the breakaway republic of Somaliland, Hargeisa.

Mr Ibrahim said the first 25 customers have already been connected in Mogadishu and another nine will be online within the next two days.

High costs

He said a total of 100 people across the country will benefit from the service.

The high cost of subscribing to the Internet is seen as the reason why very few people have opened an account.

The initial installation fee is $120 - the monthly income of some Somali families - while it costs $30 a month to rent a line, but even more exhorbitant is the 75 cents a minute it costs to surf the Net.

One businessman Mr Sakar Ali Mohamud said at such a price, no-one can can afford to be Internet for long periods.

However, Mr Mahmud Nur Olow the sales manager of Olympic Computers said the company would try to bring costs down once the number of customers exceeds 300.

Somalia is one of only three African countries with no Internet access - the others being Ertirea and Congo-Brazzaville.

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