Authorities in Mogadishu say that the city is now ready for full scale foreign investment since security and infrastructure have significantly improved, despite some lingering challenges.
The Mayor of Mogadishu, Yussuf Hussein Jimale, told The EastAfrican that the city is no longer considered high risk for foreign investors because of the efforts his administration has put in to improve security, roads and electricity infrastructure.
Mr Jimale, who is also the Governor of Banadir Regional Administration — in which Mogadishu falls — said since he assumed office in November 2015, his administration has been offering incentives to foreign investors such as tax breaks and fast-tracking of company registrations.
“We have achieved a lot in improving security. Even though Al Shabaab still remains a challenge, Mogadishu is far better than it was five years ago. We have been trying to create jobs and attract investments by building roads. For instance, we have completed tarmacking 17 kilometres of roads in the city and are currently working on two more,” said Mr Jimale.
With Mogadishu expanding following the expulsion of Al Shabaab from the city in 2011, among the sectors that are still wide open for foreign investments are manufacturing, hospitality, telecommunication, education and insurance.
Mr Jimale said that the continued return of Somalis from the diaspora — who have both capital and skills — has led to investment in hotels, supermarkets, private universities and hospitals, and boosting the confidence in the city among investors.
“The collapse of the Siad Barre government in 1991 has cause destruction and affected the minds of the people. This means the city has been starved of services and investments in the past 26 years. I have been trying to win the confidence of Mogadishu residents by persuading them to trust me with their money to invest in services such as roads, education and health. It has taken a while but now they can see the results,” he said.
Mr Jimale said his main challenge is to increase employment opportunities and training for the youth so that they are not susceptible to Al Shabaab ideology.
So far, he said his administration has 540 youth in the administration with the help of partners such as USAid and the World Bank, who also provide employment opportunities to Mogadishu residents.
The education sector has huge opportunities for investment given that most public educational institutions were taken over by individuals when the country slipped into anarchy.
Mr Jimale said there are currently 50 private universities, and the Mogadishu University opened its doors three years ago after remaining closed for over 20 years.
However, he said, his administration’s major challenge is that since the country has been in chaos for the past 26 years, some people are holding property belonging to those who fled the country. Returning the property to their rightful owners is a challenge that the mayor’s office is currently grappling with.