Internet outage in violence-plagued Somalia is extra headache for businesses

Image result for Internet outage in violence-plagued Somalia is extra headache for businessesA severed marine cable has left Somalia without internet for weeks, triggering losses for businesses, residents said, and adding a layer of chaos in a country where Islamist insurgents are carrying out a campaign of bombings and killings.

Abdi Anshuur, Somalia’s minister for posts and telecommunications, told state radio that internet to the Horn of Africa state went down a month ago after a ship cut an undersea cable connecting it to global data networks.

Businesses have had to close or improvise to remain open and university students told Reuters their educational courses had been disrupted.

Anshuur said the outage was costing Somalia the equivalent of about $10 million in economic output.

“The night internet went off marked the end of my daily bread,” Mohamed Nur, 22, told Reuters in the capital Mogadishu.

Nur said he now begged “tea and cigarettes from friends” after the internet cutoff also severed his monthly income of $500 that he took in from ads he developed and placed on the video website, YouTube.

Somalia’s economy is still picking up slowly after a combined force of the army and an African Union peacekeeping force helped drive the Islamist group, al Shabaab, out of Mogadishu and other strongholds.

Al Shabaab wants to topple the western backed government and rule according to its strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law.

The group remains formidable and lethal, with its campaign of frequent bombings and killings a key source of significant security risk for most businesses and regular life.

Now the internet outage potentially compounds the hardships for most firms. Most young people who say they are unable to work because of the outage spend hours idling in front of tea shops.

Mohamed Ahmed Hared, commercial manager of Somali Optical Networks(SOON), a large internet service provider in the country, told Reuters his business was loosing over a million dollars a day. Hared’s clients, he said, had reported a range of crippled services including passport and e-tickets printing and money remittances.

Some students and staff at the University of Somalia in Mogadishu told Reuters their learning had been disrupted because google, which they heavily rely on for research, was now inaccessible.

The absence of especially popular internet sites like Facebook and YouTube and Google was, however, cause for celebration for some in the conservative, Muslim nation.

“My wife used to be (on) YouTube or Facebook every minute,” Mohamud Osman, 45, said, adding the online activity would sometimes distract her from feeding her baby and that the habit had once forced him to try to get a divorce.

“Now I am happy … internet is without doubt a necessary tool of evil.”

(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)


Traders in Delhi experience GST software, billing headache

Representative image.Representative image.
NEW DELHI: Traders across the city experienced the birth pangs of GST on Saturday. They were confused about the billing system and the software to be used. Some couldn’t install it and others complained that they had not been able to figure it out. And, strangely enough for a weekend, many said fewer customers had turned up at the popular bazaars though malls were a different story.

“We are yet to install the software. Moreover, many traders are complaining about the complexity in the new software. All records have to be updated in the software before we can issue bills. The government should have conducted workshops for us to understand the basic things,” said Sanjay Bhargava, general secretary of Chandni Chowk Vyapar Mandal.

Echoing Bhargava, Vinay Behl, a member of New Delhi Traders Association in Connaught Place, said: “The major issue is not sales right now but how quickly we can adapt to the new system because we cannot wait anymore.”

The president of Sarojini Nagar market association, Pramod Sharma, said the government should have implemented GST from next month. “None of us is ready, no one is able to understand how things work now. The government should have implemented it after ensuring that the traders become familiar with the new system. There is still confusion about stocks — we have learnt that we need to get rid of the old stocks within two months. It is not possible,” he said, sounding exasperated.

Some outlets had put up signboards outside, warning about delays because of the new billing system. “Dear customers, there might be a delay in billing due to GST rollout. Inconvenience caused is deeply regretted,” said a sign outside a grocery store in Jangpura. “The government has been unable to clear the confusion. We have been unable to make our billing system GST-compliant although the prices are still the same,” said Pushpa Singh, who manages Shahnaz Hussain’s outlet in Select Citywalk mall.

 A GST desk at this mall attracted businessmen and customers alike. “What’s the difference between CGST and SGST,” asked Sagar Gupta, who owns a restaurant and a business in the chemical sector too. The textile business seemed to be the most shaken as it had attracted no tax before. “It’s a Saturday but very few people showed up. Many customers are asking why there is sudden change in rates within a day.”
This phenomenon was visible across markets. “There are no sales today. We all are surprised. Generally weekends are hectic for us but today it was a disappointment,” said Yoginder Dawar, president of Lajpat Nagar Central Market. “After adding up all kinds of taxes like VAT, cess, kisan tax and swachhta cess, our total tax was 18.5%, but now they are saying it will be 18%. We will have to wait and watch how the new regime unfolds,” added Sagar.

 Most traders were yet to revise rates. The manager of Giani’s Saket branch, Nikhil Kumar, said, “The owner of the chain has said rates will be revised after five-six days. We are at present operating with the pre-GST rates” While the rates remain the same, the tax column in the computer-generated slip showed the GST number, the new tax identity of the outlets.