The first railway in Somalia opened under Italian colonial administration in 1914, serving the hinterland of Mogadiscio (present day Mogadishu). It was built to 950mm gauge, then standard for narrow gauge railways in Italy. The railway was extended to Afgooye in 1924, and to Villabruzzi (present day Jowhar), 114km from Mogadiscio, in 1927.
in 1939, plans were put in hand for a highway and railway linking Villabruzzi with Addis Ababa in Ethiopia; only the highway was completed, but a 600mm gauge railway some 200km in length from Villabruzzi to the Ethiopian border was hastily assembled to provide logistical support.
Both railways were dismantled by British forces following their occupation of Italian East Africa in 1941.
A proposal to reinstate the original railway emerged in the 1980s but came to nothing with the outbreak of civil war.