Govt: We are Ready for Business

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What is the state of Somalia today? We are at the stage of recovery. After two decades of civil war, we are working with a federal government right now, and then we will hold elections. We are experiencing changes.

What sort of changes, apart from the political ones? The people are getting more settled. We are receiving a large number of people returning from abroad to do business in Somalia or to stay. We also have a substantial number of foreigners among us. Such people are only here because there is something that they have seen in the place.

“We know political stability and investor confidence go hand in hand. That is why we are working on a stronger constitutional framework.’ -Mohamed Amin”

Is that it? There are new ideas flowing into the country. New innovative solutions to local problems; solutions brought in by people who have seen how things are done in other places. These people are our greatest assets.

A good number of people all over the world are still wary of visiting or doing business in Somalia due to reports that are constantly broadcast on their television screens or what they read in the papers. Are their worries justified? The security situation here is getting better by the day.

It is not uncommon to see young people by the white sandy beaches by the sea, or the street lights on at night, or shops open until 11 in the night. Safety and calm is returning to the city. The insurgents were ousted from the capital. We are safe. And when those people come, they will be safe too. The state of security in Somalia has been bad, but we are improving. In the future, we hope to get better. We do know that security and investor confidence go hand in hand.

One of the key things that any investor would be interested in when coming to Somalia is the institutions; the structures that keep society in order… Our systems are picking up. You can’t expect them to be at the same level as those institutions or systems that have been enjoying relative peace for years. Our disciplined forces are operational, the prisons are operational and the justice system is getting back to form in bits. The ministries have been set up and even though they may be moving at a slow pace, the fact is that they are on their feet. So be it the institutions or the systems that run such institutions, we are developing them. It may take us a little longer, considering that in some cases, we have to build everything thing from the ground.

One of the stake holders in the private sector told us in a separate interview that the government was incapable of leading the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the city due to budgetary constraints. Is there truth in this statement?

Yes and No.Meaning? Yes, to mean that we have budgetary constraints. No, because we still do collect revenue through taxation at the port and in other areas. This taxation money forms part of the kitty from which we draw our development and rehabilitation funds. Again, these funds may not be as massive as in other countries, but we make do with what we can get. That means we work on the pressing issues first.

How much revenue did your government collect last year? I’m not very sure of the figures. So I can’t talk about tax figures.There is still mistrust and bickering among the political class in the country. Even though you say that the situation is getting better, not many investors would want to agree with you. Look, we know that political stability and investor confidence go hand in hand. That is why we are currently working on a stronger constitutional framework. That is why we are working on a vote in 2016, so that there can be a more stable political situation in the country.

Are there any incentives that your government has rolled out or planning to in order to encourage investment in Somalia? First, we welcome investors from all parts of the world. At the moment, the relevant ministries that are concerned with trade, immigration and interior affairs are working
to come up with policies that are friendly and non-limiting to the investors. We would want them to have an easy time in preparing their paperwork in setting up and in doing business.

And partnerships? We work with companies; both local and international companies. All we have to do is to come up with a reasonable agreement that works for both.Your last word to the prospective investors and Somali people who are overseas… We are ready to work with international companies in order to meet the needs of this country. And as we stand today, we want to move forward. No going back. We are moving forward.