In one of the most lively meetings held for academicians, members of the private sector and the government on finding an enabling environment for international and foreign direct investments for the yet-to-be-tapped, plentiful resources in Somaliland, participants deplored a number of factors that defied all efforts to the contrary.
At the Consultation Meeting on International Investment, organized by the Somaliland No-State Actors Forum (SONSAF), participants pointed out that unless the country found solutions to a wieldy, most-often unrefined laws, enforceable investment applications, intellectual property rights, patents and trademarks, respect to accountability and transparency at all levels, including higher up offices of government, and the unquestioned adherence to law and order, it was unlikely to attract noteworthy investment to the fledgling, unrecognized republic.
H.E. Mohamed Mihille Boqorre, State Minister at the Foreign Affairs, opening the meeting stated that there was a palpable need for employment generation and the overall development of all resources in the country whether it be natural, manpower or otherwise.
Mohamed Ahmed Barawani, Executive Director of SONSAF, outlined the objectives of the meeting and how his organization was looking forward to the discussions revolving around the investment atmosphere in Somaliland.
Ismahan Abdisalam, Chairperson of Nagaad unbrella, asked participants to open their hearts and minds to investigate all possible avenues that can be laid open to investors in order to take the country a step or two forward.
Mohamed M Awale, Director of Investments at the Ministry of Commerce and Investment, pointed out that there were plenty of field that could use an immediate injection of local, international and/or Diaspora investment. Some of those areas included the extractive industry, energy, livestock, agriculture, fisheries, infrastructure and tourism.
“There are attractive investment incentives that the ministry has prepared for potential investors which include an exemption of tax on profit for the first three years,” he said.
The Constitution, he added, establishes that conducive policies be put in place “based on the principles of free enterprise and the joint working of private property, public property, the national wealth and foreign investment”.
Dr. Adan Ismail, a consultant on economics, urged that several factors needed to be urgently and adequately addressed to allay the understandable qualms of potential investors, especially foreign and Diaspora.
Doing Business Indicators, and establish an investment promotion agency,” he stated in his presentation.
Omar Dubbe Ali, a businessman, pointed out that unless Somaliland established training facilities to produce a qualified workforce for any kind of industry and investment portfolio, neither the public nor the country’s GDP and capita per income would register any upward surge for the better.
“Take the example of DP World and Berbera,” he said. “Is Somaliland going to bring in contract manpower to run the machinery or build the international-standard dredging, construction and operational activities such a huge investment entails?”
Mohamed Bashe Hassan, Director of Star TV, pointed that a country’s track record on transparency and accountability to law and order was a formidable factor not to be overlooked.
“Corruption, graft, disregard for law and disrespect to national and international laws must be avoided at all costs. Do that, we succeed. Sideline them, we only relegate ourselves to the sidelines of poverty, want, disease and doom,” he said.
Guleid Ahmed Dalfa’, Director of HRC, urged that Somaliland should put in place not onlyinvestment and commercial laws but all critical instruments that protected property, patents, and capital, engendered trust, promoted an enabling environment, reverted ownership of land and other national resources to the state and upheld the rule of law above any other consideration,” he said.
Suad Armie, a young and bright businesswoman, pointed out that in order for sizeable investment packages to firmly take root in Somaliland, “we need not push investment carrots down people’s throats without giving them space to digest and sufficiently comprehend all the accrued benefits of the project”.
Ms Suad said the state, legislators, local governments and other public leaders ought to educate citizens in targeted areas long before operations started.
“You will be surprised how much of a difference that a little time invested on people can make – and to the better,” she said, drawing much applause.
Other eloquent speakers at the CMII included Khadra Kalil, Weris Dhoobaale and Zeinab Abdullahi of SLNTV (Photo).
All the participants lauded the role firms such as Dahabshiil played in setting a climate of buisness trust in Somaliland not to mention the millions it injected into the market in the form of investment packages.
Undeniably, the Republic of Somaliland has picked up the slack time lost so to infuse life into investment overtures to attract foreign capital, develop resources and to improve standards of living, education, health and other amenities for Somaliland citizens.
His Excellency, Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud “Siilaanyo”, the President, stated on many occasions, that his government was ready to attract investment without which reconstruction and economic recovery was impossible.
The President maintained that for the government he led, creating economic opportunities and generating employment with the aim of contributing towards sustainable development and economic growth was a top priority.
The President urged all branches of his government to help create an “enabling environment that encourages innovation and fosters local and international linkages in order to expand market opportunities while protecting investor assets.”
The Republic of Somaliland enacted the investment law in 2004. Since then it has attracted several actors that included Coca Cola through SBI, Genel, ENOC, and DP World failing, too, in a score of others for varied reasons most of which began and ended with the obtruseness and limited awareness of its people.