Bilateral Ankara-Mogadishu relations propel Somali businesses


The special relationship between Somalia and Turkey, which extends to trade, encourages the Somali business community to travel to Turkey to import everything from clothes to medicines.

If one visits the largest Somali markets, be it Bakara, Hamarweyne or Suuq Bacaad in the capital, it is clear that the Turkish textile industry enjoys total dominance.

Abduwahid Ahmed Ibrahim, a trader in Mogadishu, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the friendship between Mogadishu and Ankara has enabled large and small Somali companies to interact with their Turkish counterparts to import goods from Turkey, in particularly textiles, electronics, construction. materials and furniture.

“I think the most important fact is that before, clothes were imported from China and other countries, which were very cheap but lower in quality. Now all textile products from Turkey are reliable and affordable. and Somalis can see the difference,” Ibrahim said.

Batuulo Ahmed, a customer at a supermarket in Mogadishu, said not only textiles but also Turkish electronics were popular in the capital.

Ahmed, who has been to Turkey several times, told AA that all of the appliances in his home are “imported from Turkey – from the TV to the dishwasher to the refrigerator are made in Turkey.”

Logistics connectivity

Mohamed Dubo, the director of the Somali Investment Promotion Bureau at the Ministry of Planning, told AA he could identify the factors that have contributed to the rise of Somali companies and importers from Turkey.

He said that since 2011, Turkey has been involved in major developments in Somalia, from capacity building to helping public institutions serving residents.

“I can say there are three major factors, the first being logistics connectivity – air cargo between Somalia and Turkey,” he said.

Dubo said there are also daily Turkish Airlines flights from Istanbul to Mogadishu and as a result the Turkish and Somali business communities have become more interconnected.

He said when Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other countries severed relations with Qatar and launched a blockade in June 2017, Somalia decided not to take sides. and remained neutral.

“The proxies in the Horn of Africa region and the Gulf conflict saw Somalia lose the United Arab Emirates and Kenya and start leaning towards Qatar and Turkey. Since then, Somalia and Turkey have become economically interconnected,” he said.

The economy, cultural influence and integration of countries are the main reasons for Turkey’s success in Somalia, he said.

Redefining Identity

Abdifatah Hussein Mubarak, a senior lecturer at Mogadishu University’s Faculty of Economics and Management Sciences, believes that Turkey’s engagement in Somalia has redefined its foreign policy identity, which has also opened up the space for businesses and civil society organizations to operate in Somalia.

Mubarak said current Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Somalia in 2011 when he was prime minister helped pave the way for closer trade and investment cooperation. Subsequently, Turkish exports to Somalia skyrocketed.

He pointed out that Turkey’s aid to Somalia had helped to restore confidence in the Somali government and that the projects introduced by Ankara had contributed to economic growth and investments in Somalia, which was essential for a country that has seen many challenges, political struggles, civil war and anarchy for longer. more than two decades.

“Turkey has become Somalia’s main partner in the security sector alongside the European Union Mission in Somalia and the United States,” he said.

He told AA that the forces of the African Union Mission in Somalia and other regional bloc efforts are appreciated, but cannot provide a lasting solution to the country’s security challenges.

“The Turkish military base in Mogadishu, Camp TURKSOM, oversaw the training of the Somali Police Special Unit Haramcad and the Gorgor Commando Brigade in Turkey, and both corps dealt heavy blows to the terrorist group al-Shabab Mubarak said.

More and more Somali students are opting for Turkish higher education and receiving scholarships in universities and institutions.

Mubarak said Turkish universities have offered Somali students higher quotas, making them one of the largest student bodies among the nearly 200,000 international students in Turkey.

“Somalia has doctors and nurses who graduated from Turkish universities and who have played an important role in the Somali health sector,” he said.

The Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Research Hospital was also inaugurated in Mogadishu in 2015.

“Over the years, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency has renovated many hospitals and health facilities across the country that had been damaged by the civil war,” he said.

According to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, the country’s trade volume with Somalia was $187.3 million in 2018 and $250.85 million in 2019. In 2020, Turkey’s trade volume with Somalia amounted to approximately $280 million and the estimated value of local business investments in the country. reached $100 million. Turkish companies operate Mogadishu International Airport and Mogadishu Seaport.

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