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Somalia Seeks to Rebuild Economy, Promote Peace at UAE Summit


From VOA Learning English, this is the Economics Report.

For years, Somalia has been called a failed state. Piracy, poverty and terrorism have been problems in the country for a long time. But recent improvements suggest that the country is taking steps to a lasting security. Somali officials say a stronger economy is extremely important to peace.

Last week, Somali officials traveled to the United Arab Emirates, hoping to attract foreign investment. The event called the Somalia Investment Summit was held in Dubai. The goal was to present Somalia as a good place to invest.

FILE - Former Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Gedi.

Somalia is dealing with the effects of a 20-year civil war. Foreign intervention is the main cause of an increased security in the country. Over the past year, African Union troops helped drive al-Shabab militants from major cities. And international naval forces have sharply deceased pirate attacks.

But Ali Mohamed Gedi warns that the results of these efforts could be temporary. Mr Gedi is the former prime minister of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government. He says poverty must be ended. He says poverty is the reason young people join al-Shabab.

"So if we create jobs for them I believe that they'll play a role in the stabilization and the security of the continent," said Gedi.

The chairman of the Somali Economic Forum - Hassan Dudde agrees. He says the pull of illegal activity, such as piracy is strong when they are no jobs available. He says attracting investment to Somalia now, while security is improving, is very important.

"I think what the international organizations and the international community is starting to realize is that bringing troops to Somalia will not be the answer to this problem. When people have jobs and a better life they will be less likely to get in trouble," Dudde said.

Although conditions in Somalia are improving, safety threats remain. Somalia lacks a central government, corruption is common, and the workforce is largely unskilled. These problems concern possible investors. Also there are no secure legal safeguards for foreign investors.

Hirsi Dirir is Chief Executive Officer of the Dahabshil Bank, which operates 130 businesses in the country.

"Investors are a bit afraid of going into situations like that, but there's a huge opportunity," noted Hirsi Dirir.

Somali officials are preparing legislation to create investment safeguards. And increased security has led a growing number of foreign investors. Currently, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen are the top investors in Somalia.

And that is the Economics Report from VOA Learning English. Find more of our programs at I'm Mario Ritter.