Why is There No IELTS Test Centre in Somalia?

IELTS Test Centre in USA
IELTS Test Centre in USA


What is IELTS Certificate?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an international standardized test of English language proficiency for non-native English language speakers.

Jointly owned and managed by the British Council, Cambridge Assessment English, and IDP Education Limited, the IELTS test is taken by international students who are aiming to study at universities of which having an IELTS certificate is an entry requirement.

The test is also important as most universities in the UK, Canada, and Australia have the IELTS certificate as a perquisite prior to applying their scholarship programs. These scholarship programs are a lifeline for Somali students as Somali universities are not all internationally recognized. Another significant number of people must have an IELTS certificate to apply for certain jobs.

Why is an ILETS so important?

IELTS is a globally recognized test and accepted by over 11,000 organizations and institutions around the world. Unlike other tests which have an automated speaking test, IELTS entails a live interaction between the examinee and the examiner. This is an important component of the test as it simulates a real-world conversation an interaction.

IELTS is important for students aiming to be successful in their scholarship applications. For instance, the minimum requirement for the German DAAD scholarship is an IELTS certificate. Having the certificate also serves as an added advantage as this could later lead to being successful in job applications, and other educational endeavors.

Challenges faced by Somali students to obtain the IELTS certificate.

Following Somalia’s state collapse in 1991, foreign embassies left Somalia forcing Somali students to travel to neighbouring countries for visa services en route to their final destinations.   

The first challenge is the lack of an IELTS test centre itself in Somalia which puts Somali students at disadvantage. In a competing world, Somali students, unlike their counterparts, are the ones that must travel to gain the certificate.

The Second challenge is the financial burden. Somali students incur plethora of costs including visa fee charges, two-way air tickets, hotel expenses, and other living costs.

A travel agency based in Mogadishu who spoke to Gorfayn said that one of his customers could not get an entry visa to Kenya due to the visa stand-off between Kenya and Somalia and had to later change his test centre to Ethiopia, a country he knows no one from, forcing him to incur further costs.

The third and the final one could be attributed to lack of IELTS preparation centres in Somalia. This forces Somali students to stay in foreign countries and away from their families for a prolonged period time.


An IELTS test centre must be opened in Somalia for Somali students. There is literally no reason not to have the test centre in Somalia. If the issue is security, the IELTS authorities can train and use Somali universities to take the test on their behalf. If this is not possible, the test centres can be located inside the heavily fortified Halane compound where dozens of foreign embassies are already housed.

The United Kingdom government played and still plays a key role in Somalia’s quest towards a fully functioning, peaceful and prosperous state. Therefore, we appeal to the British council and the UK Embassy in Mogadishu to help us open an IELTS centre in Mogadishu so that our students in Somalia can have their IELTS tests/exams done while in their country and without all the unnecessary costs we elucidated above.

Somali students hope that their call to action is answered urgently as applications for the Chevening scholarship for 2024- 2025, and the German DAAD are upon us.

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Higher Education of Somalia should discuss this issue with representatives from the British embassy in Mogadishu and urge them to open an IELTS test centre in Mogadishu to relieve the financial burden that is being placed upon Somali students.

A petition requesting an IELTS centre to be opened in Mogadishu can be accessed here.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of this publication. 

Mohamed Ali Abukar
Mohamed Ali Abukar
Mohamed Ali Abukar is a writer and researcher. A SIMAD University Alumni who is passionate about communications and Media.

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