Two years since the Kenya Defence Forces entered Somalia, the country is slowly returning to normalcy with international investors trickling in to exploit the numerous investment opportunities.
The country, especially the capital Mogadishu, is undergoing a rejuvenation with major companies that had shut down during the civil war making a comeback.
A visit by the Sunday Nation to last week, indicated that investors from Turkey, Britain and US are among those who venturing on Somalia’s oil and gas, fishery, minerals and ICT sectors.
Another striking symbol of success will be the reopening of the Coca Cola in Mogadishu next month.
Somalia Minister for Finance Mohamud Hassan Suleiman and Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon termed Somalia as an investor friendly country.
“The discovery of oil and gas opens up an array of hope and opportunities for the new Somalia, enabling it to influence the pace of economic recovery and the future stability of the country,” Mr Suleiman said.
To improve the investment climate, the country recently revised the Investment Law and Mr Suleiman said “foreign investors see the huge steps that Somalia has taken and are keen to invest.”
Businesses are thriving in Mogadishu with various premises that were closed during the war being re-opened. Locals are also visiting beaches in Mogadishu.
Mr Aden Abdirisak, a businessman from Nairobi says he does not need an escort while driving around the city which he says was impossible two years ago.
Mr Abdirisak is among many Kenyans working in hotels and in the numerous construction sites in the capital.
Another Kenyan, Mr Peter Barasa is happy with the changes. “Things have improved. The situation used to be worse it’s peaceful now,” Mr Barasa said.
The Kenyans and locals went about their businesses, unperturbed by the occasional gunshots heard from afar.
The PM said multi-national corporations dealing in telecoms, banking, energy and tourism sectors have taken a keen interest in the country.
“Today I speak to you as Prime Minister of a new Somalia, a country that has emerged from the ashes of war. We are rebuilding our nation brick by brick, step by step and our job is not yet done,” he said, adding.
“Our dream today is for a country at peace with itself and its neighbours, secure within its own borders, trading freely towards prosperity.”
'REJIOINING COMMMUNITY OF NATIONS'
“After decades war, we are rejoining the community of nations and the world economy,” Mr Shirdon said.
Mr Shirdon said the government is now working to streamline the education system.
“We have already lost a generation through war. Now is the time for Somalia to show that we can achieve together and reap the dividends of peace. Through education we will build a new Somalia,” he said.
Currently, only four out of 10 children in Somalia go to school but an ambitious “Go 2 School” campaign has been started to ensure one million are in classrooms.
“We are encouraging parents to bring their children to free government schools as we build and renovate the institutions, train and support teachers, increase the capacity of ministries and provide youth training facilities,” M Shirdon said.
The “Go 2 School” campaign involves basic education for six to 13 year olds as well as alternative basic education for out of school children including pastoralists and internally displaced.
Mr Shirdon called on Kenyan government to assist in training of teachers and capacity building of Somalia’s education sector.
Mr Shirdon said every child in Somalia has a constitutional right to free primary and secondary education. The PM cited security as main challenge facing the Somali government- one year since it took office.
“Security has always been, and will continue to be, our number one priority. Improving security has been this government’s greatest achievement. We are talking about an enemy that controlled most of Somalia only a couple of years ago,” Mr Shirdon said.
He said the Somali government was continuing to increase the size and capacity of its security services in collaboration with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and other international partners.
Last week, Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud opened a new training course for 450 police officers.
Mr Shirdon said the Somali government is very thankful to the efforts and sacrifices made by the Kenyan Defence Forces.
“Because of them, we have made crucial strides in this war and secured Kismayu, Marka and Baidowa,” Mr Shirdon said.
On suspicion that the terrorists who attacked Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi were from Somalia, Mr Shirdon said: “This is a difficult time for all of us and I can only to appeal to the Kenyan Government and people to first cool off.’
"The Somali, like Kenyans, share the same destiny and values. And remember that those who died in Westgate have no uniform colour or nationality. The threat of Al Shabaab recognises no borders and we must therefore unite to defeat this threat,” he said.
He said Kenyans should not regret the decision of pursuing terror gangs in Somalia or even contemplate pulling out just yet.
The Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud echoed similar sentiments.
“After a year in office, we have made some progress. We have achieved a level of normalcy; we have established a degree of authority and created hope,” he said.
“Somalis have known nothing but conflict and suffering for two decades. Today we have at last emerged from the ashes of war. We are establishing Africa’s latest democracy, we are rebuilding our government and resurrecting our economy,” he said.
On the threat of terror from al-Shabaab, the president said: “Somalia has been fighting terrorism for many years and we must now intensify our operations against our enemies.
We must deny them territory and the space to train and plan and we must ensure our military campaign is accompanied by all-out information war.”
THE EMERGING DEMOCRACY
- Somalia was plunged into chaos after dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991. Following his ouster, clan warlords and militants battled for control, sparking a civil war and mayhem nationwide.
- The nation since then has mostly been under shaky transitional federal governments.
- Progress was made after KDF soldiers drove al-Shabaab militants from Mogadishu.
- Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud came into power last year.