Somali Diaspora Investment Survey
Excellencies, distinguished guests and Ladies and Gentleman,
It is an enormous pleasure and honour to be addressing you all about a subject I feel most passionate about: Investing in Somalia. In fact, I am more honoured that I am speaking at an event where Somalia, its innovative Diaspora and Investment are the key terms and themes.
For their truly remarkable efforts, foresight and for bridging the gap between speculation and evidence based decision and policy making in the area of investment in Somalia, I thank all the organizers and authors of the Somali Diaspora Investment Survey. Please let us give all of them a round of applause for the wonderful service they have provided in this report.
Across the Somali Government the need to create the conducive environment to attract foreign investment has been placed at the center of all our socio-economic and development policies. Engaging the Somali Diaspora to achieve our social and economic goals is also one of the key pillars of the recently, first ever, Cabinet adopted Somali Foreign Policy.
From this it is clear the importance our Government and People attach to both investment and the Diaspora.
Why Invest in Somalia? Am I mad for promoting investment in Somalia now as one journalist asked when I was only two days into my new role as a Foreign Minister? The answer I find, to my absolute surprise, I am very sane and perhaps a savvy businessman for promoting investment in my country. This is because there is just so much opportunity everywhere including in land, at sea and in the air.
A test of this assertion is to observe and recognize the success of the early Somali Diaspora investors who returned and are now seeing their businesses grow annually. Their success has brought many more Diaspora with skills, capital and ambition back to Somalia to strengthen public and private institutions, revolutionize product and service markets and provide much needed services to both the people and Government.
Another success story is that foreign investors are inquiring more and more about investing in Somalia’s key priority areas such as agriculture, energy, fisheries and infrastructure to name but a few. Many others, especially those from Turkey, are already on the ground and making a profit while transferring new skills and technology and creating employment for our people and hope for our society.
I am proud to say that Somalia is one of the most beautiful countries on earth and the Somali people are among the friendliest, resilient and welcoming to all groups. Looking around, I do not believe I need to work too hard to convince many of you of this as you are either a Somali American or you have felt their restless energy and entrepreneurial spirit. To compliment the energy and determination of the people, Somalia is blessed with untapped natural resources which, with limited investment in most cases, can both transform Somalia’s economic future while creating wealth for all investors.
What does Somalia offer?
It is my absolute pleasure to inform you that Somalia’s potential is boundless.
Somalia has the longest coast in Africa, one of the most reliable broadband in the Horn of Africa, 8.9 million hectares of arable land, a young and increasingly educated workforce and is a world leader in the livestock trade. In addition, Somalia has one of the best wind and sun radiation in the world.
According to the IMF, the economy grew by 3.7% in 2014 and it is forecasted to continue on this upwards trajectory for the foreseeable future as the country stabilizes and the many of the estimated 2 million Diaspora returns to Invest in their motherland.
With its enormous untapped resources mentioned earlier, Somalia has the potential to be a world leader in Renewable energy, fishing, agriculture, ICT and livestock. Furthermore, with its strategic location in the Gulf of Aden, it has the potential to return to its former role as a gateway of trade, commerce and logistics by connecting lucrative markets in the Middle and Far East as well as land locked neighboring States with over hundreds of millions of ready customers.
Somalia’s economic potential is boundless. Dreams of growth, prosperity and reaching and penetrating new markets can easily be a reality for all foreign investors. What is desperately needed to unleash all this national economic energy and opportunity is investment.
Somalia, as a recovering post conflict state, has some challenges which the entrepreneurial spirited investors would quickly and easily define as opportunities. The Somali Diaspora is familiar with most of these challenges are working hard to address them in our national parliament as MP’s, others are in Ministries as advisors and many more are in professional and business networks. Almost of these different groups are working hard to improve the situation in Somalia further to enable investment for sustainable development.
In all sectors infrastructure is important and as a national priority, the construction of this fundamental economic enabler, especially roads, will not only connect opportunities across Somalia but it will give birth to new supply chain linked activities.
In addition, since most investors also have interests in other Horn of Africa neighboring States, investment in Somali infrastructure and priority sectors will increase profitability while bringing the cost of doing business right down. These lucrative opportunities in new and old internationally competitive industries and sectors will create additional profits and accelerate Somalia’s national progress in all forms.
The Somali Government is rolling out the red carpet for all Investors and is specifically reaching out to the Diaspora to return to capitalize on their nation’s wealth for the combined empowerment, progress and prosperity of their nation and people.
Our message is clear: Somalia is open for business and the Government is committed to making doing business in Somalia easier and profitable.
As I stated earlier, Investment is central to our national economic development and, while we are grateful for the aid support we receive, we feel that the traditional aid model does not work especially if we want to ensure long term national development and prosperity.
Somalia’s Foreign Policy puts investment and Diaspora engagement at the heart of our national endeavors. The Parliament and Cabinet endorsed Investment Law stipulates that the best possible investment environment must be nurtured to offer the best opportunities to all investors.
In fact, by all assessment, I am confident that Somalia’s Investment law is among the most flexible and investor friendly you will find anywhere in the world. It affords Foreign Investors the same rights as national investors and it welcomes and rewards Public Private Partnership in all priority investment sectors. Furthermore, SomInvest, the Investment Promotion office of the Government of Somalia operating from the Foreign Ministry, will be dedicated to providing free, comprehensive and confidential information, advice and all manner of support to Foreign and Diaspora Investors in Somalia.
This is the clearest sign that our Government is making every effort to further enhance the investment environment so that the resources of our rich land can be maximized for the benefit of our people, nation and investors.
Investment opportunities in Somalia are vast as they are potentially lucrative. With the sole aim of further aiding actual and potential investors, the Somali Government has devised a Priority Projects booklet and an informational investment brochure.
Both are available on our Ministry website and I strongly urge all investors today to take a deep and serious look at the projects contained within these documents. They are all socially and economically transformative and financially rewarding.
Investing in Somalia is like investing anywhere else: Companies must carry out feasibility studies, convince their shareholders and eventually move to the ground and start the implementation process. In each step and at every stage, our Government will stand by each investor to make their hopes and dreams a reality on the ground. As for the Diaspora, I am certain their cousins and other family members on the ground in Somalia will, if they already are not, provide sound advice and information on opportunities available. I did say we have one of the most competitive telecommunication industries and we like to talk.
Investing in Somalia provides the perfect opportunity to combine to both fulfill their crucial Corporate Social Responsibility obligations while genuinely making a social difference and profit in Somalia for investors. The Somali Diaspora already send more in remittances to their families than the people of Somalia ever receive in aid from the international community and their investment will take this one step further. While remittances have been, and to some extent remain, the lifeline of many Somalis, the situation on the ground has changed and the population is better educated, the country is safer and now is the time for the Somali Diaspora to transform the remittances into investment on the ground. I am sure you will all agree, it is better to teach a person to fish then to just provide fish to them daily.
The Somali Diaspora have benefitted enormously from globalization. We are very much through technology and trade interconnected. The Somali Diaspora must realize that the Somali Investment policy actively encourages partnerships between themselves and other companies for the purpose of investment. So I say bring your friends and ideas and create lasting hope, progress and profitability in Somalia.
I welcome the findings of the Somali Diaspora Investment Survey which was conducted in partnership by truly committed experts and the Somali Diaspora. I assure you all we understand the issues and we are committed to enacting those remaining such as further banking reforms and data collection to inform investment. In fact, in both areas, we are working closely with the International Financial institutions like the World Bank and we have approached the UN Commission for Africa to assist in market data collection to determine the strength and capabilities of our resources and economy.
More than waiting for numbers on papers, I strongly urge you to visit Somalia, anywhere you like within the territory, and research opportunities on the ground. I am confident you will all be pleased with the abundance of opportunity you find. Seeing is believing and there is much that you will see that you will certainly believe in investing. Moreover, given the centrality of investment in our national policies to develop Somalia, we are not going to leave anything to chance
Our Government will listen, learn and improve to ensure that the investment climate is so competitive that within a few years we become the destination of choice for entrepreneurs in the developing world.
In conclusion, I would like to remind you all that Somalia has turned the corner. We are proud of our national progress and we remain confident that with our enormous natural and human resources our nation will continue on its socio-economic march forward.
We want you, investors in all sectors from the Diaspora and further afield, to join us on our journey to fulfill and capitalize on the boundless possibilities offered by our beautiful rich country.
As shareholders of our national developmental dreams, you will also be handsomely rewarded and fully supported by our Government.
A friend of mine told me that Somali fish die of old age. The best pension plan I can suggest that best serves both us and the fish is to fish more, eat them and make a social and economic profit in the process.
The story of Somalia’s fish best illustrates the fact that if ever there is a genuine Win –Win economic partnership, it is no doubt in Somalia. Welcome with open arms to your future opportunities and wealth.