Transport in Somalia

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A Somali Airlines Boeing 707-338C in flight (1984). The Mogadishu-based national carrier is set to be relaunched.

Transport in Somalia refers to the transportation networks and modes of transport in effect in Somalia. They include highways, airports and seaports, in addition to various forms of public and private vehicular, maritime and aerial transportation.


Roadside view of a neighborhood in Garowe.

Somalia's network of roads is 21,830 km long. As of 2010, 2,757 km (12%) of streets are paved, 844 km (3.9%) are gravel, and 18,229 km (83.5%) are earth. 2,559 km are primary roads, 4,850 km are secondary roads, and 14,421 km are rural/feeder roads.[1]

A 750 km highway connects major cities in the northern part of the country, such as Bosaso, Galkayo and Garowe, with towns in the south.[2] In 2012, the Puntland Highway Authority (PHA) completed rehabilitation work on the central artery linking Garowe with Galkayo.[3] The transportation body also began an upgrade and repair project in June 2012 on the large Garowe–Bosaso Highway.[4] Additionally, renovations were initiated in October 2012 on the central artery linking Bosaso with Qardho.[3] Plans are also in the works to construct new roads connecting littoral towns in the region to the main thoroughfare.[4]

In September 2013, the Somali federal government signed an official cooperation agreement with its Chinese counterpart in Mogadishu as part of a five year national recovery plan. The pact will see the Chinese authorities reconstruct several major infrastructural landmarks in the Somali capital and elsewhere, as well as the road between Galkayo and Burao in the northern part of the country.[5]



The Somali Civil Aviation Authority (SOMCAA) is Somalia's national civil aviation authority body. After a long period of management by the Civil Aviation Caretaker Authority for Somalia (CACAS), SOMCAA is slated to reassume control of Somalia's airspace by 31 December 2013. In preparation for the transition, staff within the country are receiving training, with over 100 airspace personnel scheduled to be transferred to Mogadishu for management duties.[6]

As of 2012, Somalia has 62 airports. 7 of these have paved runways. Among the latter, four have runways of over 3,047 m; two between 2,438 m and 3,047 m; and one 1,524 m to 2,437 m long.[7]

There are 55 airports with unpaved landing areas. One has a runway of over 3,047 m; four are between 2,438 m to 3,047 m in length; twenty are 1,524 m to 2,437 m; twenty-four are 914 m to 1,523 m; and six are under 914 m.[7]

Major airports in the country include the Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu, the Hargeisa International Airport in Hargeisa, the Kismayo Airport in Kismayo, and the Bender Qassim International Airport in Bosaso.

In late 2010, SKA Air and Logistics, a Dubai-based aviation firm that specializes in conflict zones, was contracted by the Somali government to manage operations over a period of ten years at the re-opened Aden Adde International Airport. With concurrent activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other complex areas, the company was assigned the task of running security screening, passenger security and terminals.[8] The Ministry of Transport officially announced the partnership in May 2011, with the domestically registered firm SKA-Somalia starting operations in July of the year.[9]

Air Somalia Tupolev Tu-154 in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. Somalia today has a thriving private airline industry.

Among its first initiatives, worth an estimated $6 million, SKA invested in new airport equipment and expanded support services by hiring, training and equipping 200 local workers to meet international airport standards. The company also assisted in comprehensive infrastructure renovations, restored a dependable supply of electricity, revamped the baggage handling facilities as well as the arrival and departure lounges, put into place electronic check-in systems, and firmed up on security and work-flow. Additionally, SKA connected the grounds' Somali Civil Aviation and Meteorological Agency (SCAMA) and immigration, customs, commercial airlines and Somali Police Force officials to the internet.[9] By January 2013, the firm had introduced shuttle buses to ferry travelers to and from the passenger terminal.[10] It is also providing consultancy on support services in other airports around the country, and investing in logistical redevelopment solutions.[9]


A Somali government Beechcraft 1900.

Somali Airlines was the flag carrier of Somalia. Established in 1964, it offered flights to both domestic and international destinations. Due to the outbreak of the civil war in the early 1990s, all of the carrier's operations were officially suspended in 1991.[11][12] A reconstituted Somali government later began preparations in 2012 for an expected relaunch of the carrier,[13] with the first new Somali Airlines aircraft scheduled for delivery by the end of December 2013.[14]

According to the Somali Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the void created by the closure of Somali Airlines has since been filled by various Somali-owned private carriers. Over six of these private airline firms offer commercial flights to both domestic and international locations, including Daallo Airlines, Jubba Airways, African Express Airways, East Africa 540, Central Air and Hajara.[15]

Additionally, the Somali central government flies its own public aircraft.



Possessing the longest coastline on the mainland,[16] Somalia has a number of maritime transport facilities across the country. In total, there are over 15 seaports. Major class ports are found at Mogadishu, Bosaso, Berbera and Kismayo. Two jetty class ports are also situated at Las Khorey and Merca. Additionally, Aluula, Maydh, Lughaya, Eyl, Qandala, Hafun, Hobyo, Garacad and El Maan all have smaller ports.[1]

Mogadishu leads Somalia in seaport traffic. While daily shipments bring in vehicles, foodstuffs and electronic goods, among other items, the port's monthly tax revenue never exceeded $900,000 due to kickbacks. In 2010, a new government was appointed to office, which then re-shuffled the port authority's staff. Monthly revenue from the city's port subsequently rose to a record $2.5 million.[17]

The Bosaso port was constructed during the mid-1980s by the Siad Barre administration for annual livestock shipments to the Middle East. In January 2012, a renovation project was launched, with KMC contracted to upgrade the harbor. The initiative's first phase saw the clean-up of unwanted materials from the dockyard and was completed within the month. The second phase involves the reconstruction of the port's adjoining seabed, with the objective of accommodating larger ships.[18]

In 2012, a team of engineers was also enlisted by the Puntland authorities to assess the ongoing renovations taking place at the Las Khorey port.[19] According to the Minister of Ports, Saeed Mohamed Ragge, the Puntland government intends to launch more such development projects in Las Khorey.[20]

Merchant marine[edit]

Somalia has one merchant marine. Established in 2008, it is cargo-based.[7]


The Mogadishu-Villabruzzi Railway, in green (1914-1941).

Rail transport in Somalia consisted of the erstwhile Mogadishu-Villabruzzi Railway, which ran from Mogadishu to Jowhar. 114 km in total, the system was built by the colonial authorities in Italian Somaliland in the 1910s. The track gauge was 950 mm (3 ft 1 38 in). It was dismantled in the 1940s by the British during their military occupation of the territory.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Istanbul conference on Somalia 21 – 23 May 2010 - Draft discussion paper for Round Table "Transport infrastructure"". Government of Somalia. Retrieved 31 August 2013. 
  2. ^ The First 100 Days in Office
  3. ^ a b "Puntland to rehabilitate Bosaso-Qardo road". Sabahi. 22 October 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Puntland to upgrade Bosaso-Garowe highway". Sabahi. 28 June 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  5. ^ "Somalia: Gov't, China Officially Sign Cooperation Agreement". Dalsan Radio. 9 September 2013. Retrieved 11 September 2013. 
  6. ^ "Somalia to take control of airspace this year". Sabahi. 14 May 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c Central Intelligence Agency (2011). "Somalia". The World Factbook. Langley, Virginia: Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 2011-10-05. 
  8. ^ SKA will run airport operations in Mogadishu
  9. ^ a b c "Somalia: SKA Effectively Manages Aden-Adde International Airport". Shabelle Media Network. 10 November 2012. Retrieved 9 January 2013. 
  10. ^ Eng., Maalik (8 January 2013). "Somali travellers heap praise on SKA services at Mogadishu airport". Shabelle Media Network. Retrieved 9 January 2013. 
  11. ^ World of Information (Firm), Africa Review, (World of Information: 2003), p.299.
  12. ^ "WORLD AIRLINE DIRECTORY – SOMALI AIRLINES" (PDF). Flight International. 5 April 1995 – 11 April 1995. Retrieved 19 October 2011. 
  13. ^ "Somalia to revive national airline after 21 years". Laanta. 24 July 2012. Archived from the original on 3 November 2012. Retrieved 3 November 2012. 
  14. ^ "The long awaited Somali Airlines is Coming Back!". Keydmedia Online. 20 November 2013. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  15. ^ "Aviation". Somali Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Retrieved 15 May 2014. 
  16. ^ International Traffic Network, The world trade in sharks: a compendium of Traffic's regional studies, (Traffic International: 1996), p.25.
  17. ^ "Expats Return To Somalia In Hopes Of Aiding Change". Retrieved 2011-06-12. 
  18. ^ "Somalia: Bossaso port renovation project completes first phase". Garowe Online. 29 January 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  19. ^ Somalia: Somaliland naval forces attack crew in Sanaag region
  20. ^ "Somalia: Puntland Minister of Ports visits Lasqoray". Garowe Online. 17 June 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2012.