Somali businesses leaders have urged the federal government of Somalia to continue to invest in building up the economy of the quickly recovering Horn of Africa nation after converging in Dubai for the second ‘Somalia Investment Summit’ hosted by the Somalia Economic Forum.
The Federal Government of Somalia was most notably represented by former Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Ghedi and minister for transport and civil aviation Said Ali Korshel, as well as the minister for ports and marine transport, Yusuf Moallim Amin.
Speaking in an opening address, Gedi delivered: “If in past years the image was hunger, piracy, terrorism, today you will see a different scenario. You will see a light at the end of the tunnel. You will see hope, and that life is coming back. This is the image we now want to show.”
Talking directly to the business community, Minister Korshel stated: “Rebuilding the State of Somalia is our key priority and investment is what our country needs, this summit shows that Somalia is getting back to its normality.”
The Dubai Chamber of Commerce was represented by VP Hassan Al Hashimi, who emphasised the long-standing bilateral trade between the two countries, which rose to $1.3bn in 2013 and positions the United Arab Emirates as a leading investor in Somalia alongside Oman and Yemen.
Hassan Dudde, MD of the Somali Economic Forum, commented: “Bilateral relations between Somalia and Dubai date back some hundred years – we are hopeful that the Somalia Investment Summit will reassure the Gulf Businesses of the untapped potential that is Somalia.”
Recently, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud also called for security cooperation at the Arab League Summit in Kuwait, while the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s Luca Alinovia urged the Gulf states to invest at the Somali Producers Conference 2014 in Dubai.
Ali Gedi continued: “The young generation who have been employed by al-Shabab they are not ideologically radicalists, but [sign up] for their survival. If we create jobs for them I believe that they’ll play a role in the stabilisation and the security of the country.”
On the subject of regulation, Mohamed Elgatit, a legal representative at Hogan Lovells, noted: “Investors need to know where and how to invest, when to take out their money and who to go to if there is a dispute. Africa must become better in establishing this clarity.”
Dudde also affirmed his organisation’s commitment to continue to highlight key economic trends in Somalia and drive foreign direct investment into the country, noting that the forum attracted over 70 firms to attend and resulted in an encouraging level of interaction.
In a significant development at the event, the Trade and Development Bank of Eastern and Southern Africa (PTA Bank) took the opportunity to announce of the lifting of sanctions against Somalia in a show of both commitment to the region and its confidence in the stability.
Hirsi Dirir, CEO of Dahabshiil Bank, also indicated plans to open up banks in Somalia and Nairobi, speaking alongside institutions such as Chase Bank, IBS and Barwaqo Bank, the recently launched micro finance bank targeting rural farmers, traders and fishing communities.
Dirir added: “Investors are a bit afraid of going into situations like that, but there’s a huge opportunity. The GDP growth of Somalia is equal to Ethiopia; it’s actually higher than some of the stable African countries. Somalia is growing and the economy is growing.”