Roundup: Somalia promises foreign investors opportunities

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MOGADISHU, May 31 (Xinhua) -- A two-day economic conference concluded in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, Wednesday with officials urging investors to set up businesses in the country despite challenges.

The conference, which brought together Somali government representatives, international partners, local entrepreneurs, and foreign firms from across the country, highlighted the country's immense economic potential as well as opportunities for business with international companies.

Somali Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre said the economic conference marked a pivotal moment in the country's history.

"It is a declaration of our commitment to charting a new course towards economic prosperity and a brighter future for all Somalis - we invite you to join us on this transformative journey to invest in Somalia and to partner with our private sector," Abdi Barre said at the conference.

A joint statement issued Wednesday said the two-day conference served as an opportunity for investors to witness the progress made by Somalia on the political, security and economic fronts.

"To our international partners, I urge you to see beyond the challenges that Somalia has faced in the past," Abdi said. "Look at the immense opportunities that await you here. Invest in our industries, transfer your technology and expertise, and be a catalyst for change."

Somalia is widely considered to have immense economic potential from its agricultural and aquaculture sectors, but security concerns and other challenges, such as the humanitarian crisis stemming from climate change, are hampering efforts to develop its economy.

Somalia is increasingly focusing on the so-called "triple nexus," referring to the interlinkages between humanitarian assistance, development priorities, and peacebuilding efforts, said George Conway, deputy special representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Somalia.

"With improved political and economic stability, we can increase momentum towards comprehensive long-term solutions to build Somalia's resilience," Conway said.

Conway observed initiatives like this conference and programs have contributed to a paradigm shift toward longer-term sustainable development solutions, where the private sector clearly has a critical role to play. This includes through promoting entrepreneurship, supporting micro-, medium- and small-enterprises, facilitating access to finance, and unlocking investments.

"I look forward to seeing tangible results from this conference, especially new business partnerships that will help trigger economic growth for the country in the long term, that will create jobs and economic opportunities, and which will improve socio-economic conditions for all Somali people," Conway said.

According to the World Bank, Somalia's gross domestic product (GDP) is forecast to rebound to 2.8 percent this year and increase to 3.7 percent in 2024.

The UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) said it has been working extensively with Somalia's private sector, primarily with developing local businesses and seeking international partnerships. It noted that the private sector which has to face the hardships of insecurity, climate shocks and the COVID-19 pandemic needs to be better networked with international businesses for its long-term growth.

Berger Gunther, managing director of UNIDO's Directorate for SDG Innovation and Economic Transformation, expressed his hope that Somali entrepreneurs will take advantage of the conference and the foreign investors to strike new business partnerships.

"Somalia is rapidly reemerging as an economic actor of critical and strategic relevance in the Horn of Africa region. Its private sector, despite all odds, has been adaptively resilient over the years to the numerous internal and external shocks the country has had to endure," Gunther said in a video message.

He added that the time had come to expose Somalia's private sector markets as a destination for business trade and investment, noting that events like the economic conference should definitely contribute to this objective. Enditem

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