Somaliland: USAID Program Facilitates the Digitalization of Investment Information

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The USAID Partnership for Economic Growth program –hands over to the Ministry of Commerce- two offices, furniture, computer equipment and business registration software

By: Latifa Yusuf Masai

HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – The USAID Partnership for Economic Growth program has handed over to the Somaliland Ministry of Commerce, two furnished offices with computer equipment and business registration software. This project is part of the USAID funded Partnership for Economic Growth implemented by DAI and has been working in cooperation with the Ministry of Commerce.

from left Dr Saad Ali Mr Khalif and right Mr SuleimanThe handover ceremony was held at the Ministry of Commerce in Hargeisa and was attended by the Minister of Commerce Mr. Abdirisak Khaliif Ahmed, Minister of National Planning and Development Dr. Sa’ad Ali Shire, Vice Minister., Ministry of Commerce, Mr. Adan Deria Egal, Director General, Ministry of Commerce, representatives of the USAID Partnership for Economic Growth and many other dignitaries and guests.

The ceremony was opened by the Vice Minister of the Ministry of Commerce Mr. Adan Deria Egal who thanked the USAID Partnership for Economic Growth for the capacity development support it has given to the Ministry. The Vice Minister added that the Ministry has got many needs which are multifaceted. He urged that this tangible assistance from the USAID must not stop there and has to be extended further to meet our needs in other areas in order to complete those unfinished tasks.

The Minister of Commerce Mr. Abdirisak Khaliif Ahmed who spoke at the ceremony also thanked the USAID Partnership for Economic Growth program for the various types of support it has given to the Ministry. He noted that the USAID Partnership for Economic Growth has done “the most successful work with the Ministry of Commerce”. He also noted that the work of the agency in the country will undoubtedly encourage both the business community and the foreign investors to invest in the country. The Minister urged the staff of the Ministry to take care of the furniture and the equipments donated to them by the agency and put them to the best usage for the benefit of the intended beneficiaries and the government.

The Minister of National Planning and Development Dr. Sa’ad Ali shire also spoke at the ceremony. He congratulated the Ministry of Commerce for its efforts to improve business and trade in the country. In addition he commended the USAID Partnership for Economic Growth program for implementing various projects for the Ministry. He added that ” in many instances donors have told us that they have implemented so many projects for us however in most cases these are not tangible, but in this case the development work that the USAID has done in the Ministry is tangible and we thank them for their work”.

Dr. Sa’ad also mentioned that the government headed by President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud-Silanyo has made economic development as one of its main goals, and he noted that the private sector is the central pillar for the economy, and added that “the most important priority for President Silanyo’s government is to promote economic development. Our economy depends on three sources and these are: private sector, public sector and foreign aid. The public sector is small and it is about 10%, the foreign aid is not more than 8%, where almost 85% of the source of our economy is the private sector, therefore if the private sector is not supported to grow then economic growth will not be achieved”.

Mr. SuSuleiman Mohamed USAID program Managerleiman Mohamed, Program Manager, USAID Partnership for Economic Growth program who addressed the invitees gave a brief outline of the activities of the USAID Partnership for Economic Growth in Somaliland. He mentioned that the private sector in Somaliland is the artery sustaining the livelihoods of the society and it is what generates the economic activities in Somaliland. He noted that the public sector is equally an important pillar of the economy and only if these two parts work together, then can economic growth be attained, and the USAID Partnership for Economic Growth program is committed to work with these two parts of the economy”.

Mr. Suleiman also mentioned that the project has started in conjunction with the Ministry, the design and development of the Somaliland Investment Guide, which will be in the form of a website and publication. It will highlight the opportunities for investment in Somaliland and at the same time provide information about challenges likely to be faced by investors.

He pointed out, that hopefully, when the investment guide is completed it will improve businessesDr Saad assisted by Mr Khalif cut the tape to the new investment unit building and that it will enable potential investors to access information. He concluded by saying that, ” I am hopeful and confident that once the investment guide is completed it will contribute towards growth as people will get plenty of information related to investment opportunities available in the country” .

Adam Ismail, Investment Promotion Specialist, for the USAID Partnership for Economic Growth program also spoke about the close working relationship between the USAID Partnership for Economic Growth program and the Ministry of Commerce and the capacity development support that the agency has given to the Ministry. Adam mentioned that part of that support was to assist the Ministry to collect data related to business communities in the regions as a contribution to the Somaliland Business Confidence Index intended to gauge the perception of businesses. Adam IsmailHe also mentioned that the business registration software After that the two Ministers cut the ribbon for the two offices and inspected the furniture and the equipment, they asked questions to the staff of the Ministry as to how the business registration software will work.The staff demonstrated how the software would work and how information would be transmitted.

The other activities mentioned by Adam included the various support that the USAID Partnership for Economic Growth program extended to the Ministry such as as the development and validation of the foreign and domestic investment laws which are in their final drafts and will soon be submitted to the Ministry of Commerce who will in turn table it at the Council of Ministers.He concluded by saying that all these activities will promote business and create enabling environment which will encourage investment into the country.

In a span of almost two years the USAID funded Partnership for Economic Growth has ongoing or completed a number of projects that include:

13 local business concerns  representing all the country’s regions and from diversified commercial sectors have been given grants to the tune of around $1,000,000

Agricultural Technology Testing and Transfer

Improved vegetable production in Awdal Region as a prelude to Increasing production through introduction of modern technologies, saving on scare foreign exchange and Increase farmer incomes Agricultural and business extension Seed production/multiplication through its Agriculture sub-activity.

Over 70 formerly illiterate farmers from Amoud, Ruqi and Baki in Awdal region west Somaliland have seen their confidence boosted following a literacy and numeracy tuition which is part of the Agriculture sub-activity which is which lays the foundation for the business extension, marketing and record-keeping training that they will partake in during the up- coming growing and harvest seasons.

Facilitated Country Investment Guide that Intends to Declare the Country Open for Business .The Investment guide prepared by the USAID funded Partnership for Economic Growth in conjunction with its local private and public partners seeks to provide clear and easy to understand information about the country’s potentialities for investment and the opportunities that can be taken advantage of by local, diaspora and foreign investors

Energy Law

The draft energy law and regulations are expected to establish the right conditions for growth in the energy sector, with a focus on expanding reliable, efficient and affordable electricity services, powered by both conventional and alternative sources that would help promote investment in the Somaliland economy.

Stakeholders brainstorm Energy law requirements/file With guidance from the Partnership for Economic Growth, the Somaliland Ministry of Mining, Energy and Water Resources and nearly 100 local actors from independent power providers, consumer groups, nongovernmental organizations, universities, and government agencies have been involved in review of the first draft of the law and regulations.

The USAID Partnership for Economic Growth works with government and the private sector to improve the enabling environment for investment and generate more productive employment. The program began in April 2011 in Somaliland and will run to August 2013. This program supports stabilization through economic growth by investing in the local economy and strengthening livestock, agriculture, and energy production

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