Somalia: Back to business

In this era of global uncertainty, Somalia has become one of the least effected countries in the world. This is largely due to the Somali authorities’ efforts in early preventive measures. For instance, the country went into full lockdown soon after the first case of Coronavirus were confirmed on 16th March 2020.

Similar to other countries in East Africa, the authorities made sure to ground all flights from badly affected regions such as Europe. At the beginning of this pandemic, Somalia’s government made sure to indefinitely ban all international travellers and tourists from entering Somalia. The most concerning direct flights were from Europe and other western countries as the Western states were greatly impacted by the pandemic. Also, the world’s richest country, the United States of America experienced the largest number of deaths in the world with 125,000 and counting followed by the United Kingdom with 44,000 deaths. Other countries that experienced high death rates includes Italy and Spain despite claiming to have the most advanced public health systems in Europe. Globally more than 80% of global deaths took place in North America and Europe. Despite originating in China and Asia, the vast majority of new and lethal cases has been disproportionately represented by Europe and North America. In contrast, the African continent has proven to be a success story in terms of how the countries have handled the pandemic. 

As the country is slowly getting back to business, the Transport and Civil Aviation Minister permitted local flights to resume on the 8th June and plans had been finalized to open the airspace for local flight. Of these, five airlines have been cleared to resume business, but all passengers will be subjected to screening outside and within the airport. Members of the public have praised these measures; “what saved us is that we have closed our borders to Europe and Asia, I am satisfied with what our leaders have done” says Abdi Hussein, a local businessman.

The Coronavirus Pandemic is slowly easing itself in Somalia. This is due to a combination of public health interventions, social distancing measurs and active public engagements where daily updates were televised nationwide. Today, life is coming back to normal for most people and non-essential businesses are once again opening their doors to the public. Despite this, public gatherings in Masjids and sports events are still not opened as of yet.

Mohamed Hassan Mehdi the CEO of Pure Earth International, the largest retail tech business in Somalia, trading at $25 per share at Somali Stock Exchange stated that “we are opening all our retails branches nationwide on 10th June keeping the safety of our customers in mind. Surely, the economic impact of the lockdown is substantial, but we are trying to make the most of the rest of the year.”

As the lockdown eases in many countries we are seeing positive signs, but the post pandemic landscape will have its own, inherent challenges. For instance, Somalia’s GDP is expected to grow by 3.5% in 2020. The Somali Stock Exchange opened its doors again on 7th June and the market is expected up pick up briskly in the intervening period.

A positive thing that emerged from the pandemic is solidarity as large Somali companies such as Golis, Hormuud and Dahabshiil to name a few have donated millions of Dollars to the fight against the spread of coronavirus. This type of corporate social responsibility has also inspired many young entrepreneurs who have served to fill the gap in terms of manufacturing facemasks and PPE equipment. Mahammed Adawe, a 21-year-old Somali mechanical engineer has invented a respirator to try to help the country during the pandemic. More than anything, these examples show that the nation can overcome any challenges when due to the innovative and entrepreneurial nature of our population.

Date: 10th of June 2020