NAIROBI, Aug. 3, 2013 (SM) –With piracy drastically down and terrorism waning, Somalia is encouraging businesses around the world to come and invest in this resource-rich “virgin land” that is full of opportunities.
That was message to global investors from Somalia’s first woman Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Fawzia Yusuf Haaji Adam, who was on a visit to Kenya’s capital Nairobi, when she spoke to Xinhua here in an exclusive interview on Friday.
“We have two problems. One is piracy, and the other is terrorism,” she spoke frankly.
Piracy has gone down 80 percent compared to two years ago, which is quite a development, she said. As for terrorism, Somalia is gaining progress in pushing it out of the country with the help of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and the European Union, which has been providing financial support.
In fighting terrorism, Somalia is focusing on the Al Qaida- linked Al Shabaab militant group, she said. Now, a lot of young people are coming out of terrorist groups, which are “losing numbers, morale, resources, because we are taking the land back.”
“We have liberated many, many regions, and we are really in the last leg, ” the minister said. “So the security is taking place.”
With security improving, Somalia needs countries like China to support it to rebuild its infrastructure after decades of conflicts, in particular roads, schools, hospitals, etc., she said.
She thanked China for its long-standing support. “China has been there for us for so long, we will always say that. From the day we had our independence in 1960s, China has been supporting us, ” she said. “We are very, very grateful to the Chinese people and to the Chinese government, and looking forward to more collaboration and closer cooperation.”
“We are eliminating the terrorism now, so this is a virgin land that needs investment. We need to make the people of China to be aware that this is where they can come to invest.”
While badly in need of help at the moment, “Somalia is one of the richest countries in the world if it is developed,” she said.
It has only 10 million people, but 8 million hectares of agricultural land, with rivers flowing into the sea; the longest coastline in Africa and the largest mineral resources in the region; abundant livestock, gas and oil resources, she explained.
Also, Somalia is next to populous countries like Ethiopia, and landlocked countries like Uganda and Sudan which could use a seaport on Somalia’s long coastline for marine services.
To investors around the world who balk at Somalia’s insecurity, “we are telling them: the sooner they come, the more secure it will be,” she said.
At present, there are companies from Europe and China visiting Somalia exploring business opportunities, and “very soon this country will be very secured.”
“I cannot give you a timeline but I’m hoping that will be very soon,” she added, expectantly.