Today, Hormuud Telecom, Somalia’s largest private sector employer opens its second Somali Success Stories Conference in Mogadishu. Uniting over fifty businesses in the country’s agricultural, fisheries and livestock sectors, the high-level forum is set to answer the question: why is Somalia a net importer of food, despite its abundant resources?
Attended by the Prime Minister, the Minister for Commerce, the country’s leading trade associations and businesses, it is the first Somali private sector-led event of its kind. It will include a series of exhibitions, speeches, panel events and awards, all focussed on celebrating the resilience and future of Somalia’s food production sectors. Businesses include:
- Hersio Abdulle Siad, Somfresh founder, a female business owner, and supplier of fresh fruit and vegetables to local supermarkets and hotels.
- Dr Hussein Haji, Filsan founder, a Canada-educated scientist developing drought-resistant maize seeds that have X5 larger yields than traditional maize.
- Somali Seafood Export Association, the first Somali body to develop the nascent fisheries sector
- SOMEAT, a privately owned group of meat exporters.
Somalia is reliant on food imports. The country now produces less than half as much food as it did before the country fell into three decades of conflict.
Insecurity and the climate crisis have left the country dangerously reliant on imported food, with over 90 per cent of wheat supplies coming from Russia and Ukraine.
Record-high increases in the prices of staple crops on the global market have made it even harder for Somalis to afford enough food for their families.
Despite this, Somalia’s GDP is forecast to rebound to 3.7% growth in 2024. With agriculture accounting for 75% of GDP, and telecommunications 11%, its vibrant private sector has been a key force behind this growth.
Somalia’s resources, including 9.8 million hectares of arable land, Africa’s longest coastline along the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, and substantial livestock herds, offer the means for self-sufficiency.
Livestock alone contributes to over 50% of export revenue and nearly 40% of GDP. Somalia’s coastline no longer a high risk zone, opening up some of the richest fishing waters in the world for the picking — the potential for agriculture and fisheries in Somalia remains immense.
As Somalia is set to join the East African Community in December, its resources present a yet untapped export.
Speaking on the potential of Somali’s fishing and agricultural industries, the Somali Minister for Commerce, H.E. Hon. Jibril Abdirashid Haji Abdi said:
“Farmers and fishermen have been the foundation of Somalia’s economy for decades, and I’m grateful to be here, celebrating them today. I’m also thankful to Hormuud Telecom for organising such a vital event.
“As we get closer to the milestone of debt relief, I’m committed to making sure our next chapter is one where Somalia stands with independence, fuelled by its own resources and potential. Today is a step in that journey.”
Hormuud Telecom, through the Somali Success Stories Conference, will lead discussions on how to develop better ways of conducting business within these sectors, identifying barriers to exporting and production, and offering private sector-led solutions.
Sizeable investments in infrastructure, including subsea fibre optic cables have led to rapid digitalisation within the Somali population. With the cheapest data in Africa and over two-thirds of Somalis using mobile money every day, the event will also consider the role of digital technologies in boosting agricultural production.
Ahmed Yusuf, CEO of Hormuud Telecom said:
“Through innovation, entrepreneurialism and determination, Somalia’s private sector has helped rebuild Somalia, one business at a time. At Hormuud Telecom, we’ve been busy cementing the foundation of connectivity to take Somalia to the next level.
“We believe journey to a self-reliant Somalia will be paved with digital technologies. By harnessing mobile data to monitor crop production, connecting farmers and fishermen with digital financial services, or by improving links between regional and international markets through mobile platforms, we are on the cusp of technology that will revolutionise our agribusinesses.”
Mahamud Abdi Ali Gabeire, President of the Somali Chamber of Commerce & Industry said:
“The backbone of any nation’s sustainable growth is its private sector. In Somalia, this resilience could not be greater. Hormuud’s forum is a testament to the fact that Somalia’s businesses, big and small, are ready to play a pivotal role in crafting a sustainable future, bringing development and growth beloved nation.”