Somalia Turkey Business and Investment Forum

Somalia-Turkey Business and Investment Forum  Speech
Monday 22nd February 2016
Speech delivered by H.E. Dr. Abdusalam H. Omer, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Investment Promotion


Excellencies, distinguished guests and brothers and sisters,

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, as the name of my Ministry suggests, I am responsible for bringing Foreign Direct Investment to Somalia and this is a goal I am most committed to.

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. Such is the importance our Government and People attach to this process and policy.

Turkey is a true brother, ally and friend of Somalia. As a nation we cannot be more sincere in our appreciation and respect for Turkey’s developmental role and efforts on the ground in Somalia.

In fact this event has been organized as part of the HLPF because our two sides understood the great role investment will play in enhancing and advancing Somalia’s current developmental gains, including security. On this matter, I would like to sincerely thank H.E. Ambassador Olgan Bekar for the support he provided to bring this event to fruition and incorporate it into the HLPF process. Thank you Mr. Ambassador.

The first visit of H.E. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Somalia in August 2011 and the arrival of Turkish Airline, which after President’s Erdogan’s second visit started to operate a 7 day week service, was a game changer. This commitment and early vision has brought the world to Somalia and it clearly highlighted the potential of our resourceful country to the world. I am sure it has also paid dividend for Turkish investors in Somalia who are now in their hundreds.

Mr. Ahmet Sami Isler, the Chairman of Turkey-Somalia Business Council who spoke earlier reminded us of the strengthening and deepening connections between Somali and Turkish entrepreneurs and this is most encouraged and supported by our Government. The best evidence of this is that we have decided to provide Turkish investors with Favourable Treatment and this will be reflected in a Trade and Economic Agreement our two sides will sign during this HLPF in the beautiful and historic city of Istanbul.

In fact, we want investors from other nations to follow this lead to create a more progressive and prosperous Somalia.

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 is that I am frighteningly sane and, quite by accident, perhaps a savvy businessman for promoting investment in my country.

A test of this assertion is to observe and recognize the success of the early Turkish investors in Mogadishu Port and Aden Ade International Airport among other ventures. Since the success of these enterprises, more and more investors are showing an interest and lining up to invest in Somalia from all over the world.

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. 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 investors.

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 and resettle 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.

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 Foreign Investors. Our message is clear: Somalia is open for business.

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 unveiled two weeks ago puts investment at the heart of international engagement while 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 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 today and I strongly urge all investors to take a deep and serious look at the projects contained within these documents. They are all socially and economically transformative and financially rewarding for investors.

Investing in Somalia is like investing anywhere else: Companies must carry out feasible 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.

In Somalia, like elsewhere, there are risks to investing and by locality these could vary. However, in this regard, Somalia again offers a unique opportunity.

This opportunity is the perfect combination for all investors to fulfill their crucial Corporate Social Responsibility obligations while genuinely making a social difference and profit in Somalia. I am sure you will all agree, this is the stuff of dreams in most corporate business plans today.

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, 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. So welcome with open arms to your future opportunities and wealth.

Thank you