Somali National University

Coordinates: 2°02′17″N 45°17′13″E / 2.038°N 45.287°E / 2.038; 45.287
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Somali National University
الجامعة الوطنية الصومالية
Jaamacadda Ummadda Soomaaliyeed
Università Nazionale Somala
Former names
Università Nazionale Somala
Location, ,

2°02′17″N 45°17′13″E / 2.038°N 45.287°E / 2.038; 45.287

Somali National University (SNU) (Somali: Jaamacadda Ummadda Soomaaliyeed, Arabic: الجامعة الوطنية الصومالية, Italian: Università Nazionale Somala) is a national university in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. Its campus grounds were located four kilometers from the Mogadishu International Airport (Aden Adde International Airport). It was established in 1971, but was "officially" founded in 1954. It closed in 1990. After closing down for a number of years, the university reopened in August 2014.



The former Somali National University campus grounds (early 1990s)

The Somali National University was established in 1954 as Università Nazionale Somala, under Italian U.N. Trusteeship over Italy's former Italian colony in East Africa of Italian Somaliland. In 1960, Somalia became an independent nation in the Trust Territory of Somalia. It obtained official university status in 1969 and the language initially used was only Italian.[1]

The Somali National University, based in Mogadishu, was born in 1969 as part of a project by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) for technical assistance to Somalia. The aim was to train graduates of Somali nationality, as in every part of the world, for the new leading and technical cadres of the country.The first courses were those of economics and jurisprudence. From '71 to '73, other degree courses were instituted including agrarian, chemistry, medicine, engineering and geology. In 1986 the Somali Ministry of Education and Culture made an official request to the University of Padua (which already ran the degree courses in chemistry and geology) to organize a faculty of sciences that included, in addition to the existing ones degree courses, those in mathematics, physics and biology. Only in 1987 did this new faculty start to operate. Jama [2]

In 1983, nine out of the twelve faculties in the Somali National University used Italian as the language of instruction,[3] but after 1990 only Somali and English were used.

The main university grounds were situated about six kilometers from the city center. Here, during the institution's first thirty years, the main campus was known as Jaamacada Gaheyr ("Gaheyr University").[4]

In 1973, under the Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC), programs and facilities were expanded. The SNU developed over the next twenty years into an institution of higher learning, with 13 departments, 700 staff and over 15,000 students.[5]

Under the Somali revolutionary government, the Ministry of Higher Learning and Culture established research centers in a number of cities, with the goal of developing regional economies. These learning centers were earmarked for employees from such ministries as the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Ministry of Livestock and Forestry Management.

In the mid-1970s, the teaching college of Lafoole University, one of SNU's remote campuses, was made a stand-alone institution ("Lafoole Teacher's College"). The language of instruction was English.

Due to extensive damage to its facilities as well as the difficulty of holding classes and acquiring books and other necessities in the wake of the civil war in the early 1990s, classes at the university were suspended.

Language of instruction[edit]

Italian was the Somali National University's primary language of instruction. The university's main campus was situated in Mogadishu, where residents were already familiar with the Italian language.

From 1973 onward, Somali and English were introduced as additional languages of instruction. All programs at Lafoole College were taught in English. Across the country, there were programs in Af Soomaali run by the Ministry of Culture and Higher Education, the government ministry responsible for scholastic instruction.

When the Somali linguist Shire Jama Ahmed's modified Latin script was chosen by the Siad Barre administration as the nation's official orthography, Somali language courses began to spring up throughout the country. The language of instruction in primary and secondary schools also became Somali.[citation needed]


On 14 November 2013, the former Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon "Saacid" and his cabinet approved a federal government plan to reopen the Somali National University. The refurbishing initiative cost US$55.2 million.[5] On 16 August 2014, the federal government officially re-opened the Somali National University at a meeting of the Board of the University. The event was chaired by former President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who serves as the head of the university's committee in charge of the curriculum, budget dispensation and faculties.[6]

On 18 September 2014, about 480 pupils took the university's entry exams, which were supervised by the Chairman of the Somali National University Dr. Mohamed Ahmed Jimale and the Deputy Minister of Culture and Higher Education Mohamed Ahmed Kulan.[7] In October 2014, Speaker of the Federal Parliament Mohamed Osman Jawari and Minister of Culture and Higher Education Duale Adan Mohamed officially inaugurated the first academic year of the Somali National University.[8]


The Somali National University had four main campuses:

  • Gaheyr – Mogadishu at KM 6
  • Digfeer – Medical school near Digfeer Hospital in Mogadishu
  • Lafoole Teaching College – Lafoole.
  • Polytechnic College at KM 4, Mogadishu

The first campus, Gaheyr, opened in 1971 and was located at KM 6 (on the Afgooye Road, 6 km from downtown Mogadishu). There were also new expansion buildings across from Gaheyr Campus. The new buildings took some years to complete and were situated on the other side of the Afgoi road, facing Gaheyr.

Most of the new buildings had some sort of circular design to them, and the engineer who designed them was unofficially nicknamed "Engineer O" by the students.

Faculties and departments[edit]

The Somali National University formerly had 14 departments:

  • Department of Sharia Law
  • Department of Linguistics (Somali, Arabic, English, German, Italian)
  • Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Husbandry[9]
  • College of Education (Teaching College at Lafoole; 20 km west of Mogadishu)
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Geology and Mining
  • Department of Medicine (College of Medicine; near Digfeer Hospital)
  • Department of Chemical/Industrial Engineering
  • Faculty of Economics
  • Faculty of Law
  • Department of Engineering
  • Faculty of Political science and Journalism
  • Technical and Commercial Teachers' College (formerly called Technical Teachers' College), Known as "Polytechnic College" located at KM 4, Mogadishu.
  • Institute of Development Administration & Management

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable alumni of the Somali National University include:


  1. ^ Jawed, Mohammed Nasir (1996). Year Book of the Muslim World. Medialine. p. 368. ISBN 9788186420003.
  2. ^ Universita' Nazionale Somala
  3. ^ Lee Cassanelli and Farah Sheikh Abdikadir. "Somalia: Education in Transition". p. 103. Retrieved 2014-03-29.
  4. ^ Country Higher Education Profiles - Somalia Archived 2008-10-29 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ a b "Cabinet endorses plans to reopen Somali National University". Horseed Media. 14 November 2013. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  6. ^ "Federal government re-opens Somali National University". Goobjoog News. 16 August 2014. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  7. ^ "SOMALIA: Weekly Government Progress report touches numerous issues". Raxanreeb. 20 September 2014. Archived from the original on 9 October 2014. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  8. ^ "Somalia: Jawari officially opens the first academic year of Somali National University". Goobjoog. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
  9. ^ "Somali National University, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and animal Husbandry". World Veterinary Association. Archived from the original on 2012-11-11. Retrieved 2013-02-17.