Although there is a dream to transform Somalia as the business hun in the region, much has to be done in investment eco-system to attract the more needed investment.
Somalia is a country recovering from nearly 3 decades of civil unrest and as such this gives rise to great investment opportunities. The country strategically borders Ethiopia a landlocked country with the second largest population in Africa. Somalia with the longest coastline on the African continent, this could be a major hub between Africa the Middle East and Asia.
The country is endowed with uranium, iron ore, tin, gypsum, bauxite, copper, salt, natural gas and oil. The country, in spite of the many years of conflict, has maintained an informal economy largely based on the export of livestock mainly camels and remittances of money from one of the world’s largest diasporas.
Although still fragile, the country has “made significant progress” said the IMF last year in its first regular “health check” of Somalia’s economy in over 25 year.
Ayan Abdi Diiriye, our Financial Reporter spoke to H.E. Mohamed Abdi Hayir Maareye, the Somalia Minister of Trade & Industry , about the country’s investment opportunities, security concerns, and how the country is slowing becoming an investment hub.
- What kind of marketing strategies are you putting in place to market Somalia as an investment destination in Africa?
Our strategic location makes us the gate way to East and Central of Africa which is key for investors from Eastern Europe,Asia and Africa at large.The new government has really invested in creating better governance structures that supports business environment.We have also embarked on the formation of legal framework that will facilitate the registration of businesses.
As we speak we have bilateral trade agreements with UAE nations,Turkey and Ethiopia.Somalia plans to invest on marketing techniques like Trade Expos through its embassies in different countries, we believe by doing so we shall be telling the world that we are ready for business.
- Are foreign showing interest in investing in the country?
Some of our biggest foreign investors include Turkey,UAE states,Ethiopia,United Kingdom and the European Union.
- What are some of the sectors they have been targeting?
Already we know that Turkey are investing on Aviation sector but some of the key sectors that is attracting investors into Somalia are;Fishing,Tourism,Mineral,Livestock,Agriculture,Fertilizer,Real Estate and Boat making.
- How big of a concern is insecurity and instability?
Security was a concern but since the collapse of Al-shabaab and the central government taking control of Mogadishu,things have changed. The AMISOM soldiers have also helped in stabilizing the country.The Somalia National Police are also providing good support to the business community.
- Can a powerful politician grab a company’s assets, or take control of the company since most of the businesses are controlled from the capital city, Mogadishu?
That was in the past, with systems that we have put in place there is no way a politician no matter how powerful they are, they can grab assets belonging to investors.
The other thing is that Somalia culture as we all know is a culture that promotes hardwork and that’s why we thrive no matter where we are.
- What do you see in Somalia today that was not there two decades ago?
Today we have a country called The Republic of Somalia and one can land in Mogadishu Airport.The government is functional and things are taking shape.
- What legacy would you love to leave behind and what kind of Somalia, in terms of investment would you like to see in the next 5 years.
My dream is to transform the country as the gateway and business hub in the region. Creating better company laws that will drive the growth of investment.
Opening up new markets for Somalia products is another key chapter that I would like to be remembered for.I plan to make an application for membership at East Africa Community (EAC) and COMESA,by doing this we shall be aligning ourselves for greater markets for our products.
- What is your take on the new company law targeting the pipeline sector?
This is not the first law we are creating, we have created the Foreign Direct Investment Law that streamlined the investment sector.
This new company law targeting the pipeline sector is meant to better the sector so that it can attract investors in this area.