Somalia: Despite violence Chinese goods getting popular

Published on Sunday 25th May 2008

Somalia: "Ninety-five percent of our goods are Chinese made products," said Abdinur Ahmed Ali, a salesman at QualityComputers Shop in Bakara market south of Mogadishu, the Somali capital.

The computers and accessories salesman said the products from China are gaining popularity among Somalis because they are cheap and have good quality.

"Our company mostly imports electronic goods from China which we have good trade relations and we expect that to expand as people are now affording to buy things they could not."

Despite nearly two decades of civil strife in the Horn of Africa nation, Somalia is no exception in the growing economic ties between China and the world, particularly Africa.

Business activities in the main Bakara market in Mogadishu is bustling with activities and goods from overseas, mostly from China, are trickling into the country notwithstanding the widespread piracy in Somali territorial waters.

Jaylani Salah, an Internet cafe owner in Mogadishu, says nearly all his equipment -- computers, printers, scanners, wirings, UPS and others -- are made in China.

"The products from china are affordable and also durable and that is why I selected Chinese made goods," Salah told Xinhua in Mogadishu.

It is not only electronic products imported from China that arepopular but also many other categories of merchandise including medicine and clothing.

Yusuf Isse owns a large drug store in the drugs section of Bakara market. He says since business people began importing from China the price of the medicine has fallen considerably.

"I believe within years all medicine in Somalia will be imported from China as businessmen respond to people preference of Chinese made drugs," Isse told Xinhua.

Most of the goods from China are directly imported from the Asian country but some of the merchandise is brought from the United Arab Emirates, says businessman Gure Omar.

"Some business people have opened offices in Beijing, the Chinese capital, to coordinate their business imports while some rely on other countries to gain access to the products."

The Horn of Africa country has been through 18 years of civil war but despite the war local entrepreneurs have built one of the most thriving telecommunication networks including mobile phone service, considered one of the cheapest in the world.

Salesman Ali says the trade relations between Somalia and China is to grow since insecurity and long time lawlessness in Somalia has not hampered the trade between the two countries for the past 18 years.

Liban Dahir, a young man of 25 who says all his clothes are Chinese made, expects that once the country is stable enough Chinese factories could establish in Somalia and produce cheaper goods for Somalia.

"If they produced the goods inside Somalia I believe the Chinese goods will be even much cheaper than they are now when they are imported from China in the Far East. That time will one day come," Dahir says.