Mogadishu , locally known as Xamar or Hamar, is the capital and most populous city of Somalia. It is located just north of the Equator on the Indian Ocean. One of the earliest Arab settlements on the East African coast, its origins date to the 10th century. It declined in the 16th century after a period of extensive trade with the Arab states, but it had commercial relations with the Portuguese and the imams of Muscat before coming under the control of the sultan of Zanzibar in 1871. The city has served as an important port connecting with traders over the Somali Sea for millennia and currently has a population of 3,790,000 residents.Mogadishu is the nearest foreign mainland city to Seychelles, at a distance of 835 mi over the Somali Sea. The territorial extent and scope of the term Benadir has varied in definition throughout its history, with medieval usage extending it to huge swaths of the Somali coast, the early modern period which extended the meaning of Benadir to the interior midway towards the Hirshabelle region, to the contemporary period wherein sometimes the nonstandard and incorrect misnomer of usage being interchangeable with the city of Mogadishu is used. This Benadir municipality is bordered to the north by Hirshabelle and to the southwest by South West, and is the only Somali gobol which is both a municipality and a gobol.Mogadishu has a long history, which ranges from hunter-gatherers during the Lowland East Cushite and proto-Somali era during prehistoricity, the Zengisa Acra polity during the ancient period, the Muzaffar dynasty during the medieval era, the Ajuran Sultanate during the renaissance period, and the Geledi-Qais alliance in the early modern period. The onset of European colonialism occurred in incremental stages, with Italian treaties in the 1880s followed by economic engagement between various Somali clans, including the Reer Mataan and the Shaansi clans like reer Xamar and the Italian Benadir Company and then direct governance by the Italian government after 1906, British Military Administration of Somalia after World War two and the UN Trust Territory in the 1950s.
Data and Facts
- Somalian census data is notoriously hard to obtain. Nevertheless, Demographia estimates that Mogadishu’s population was 2.3 million people in 2015, over a land area measuring 35 square miles (91 square kilometers)
- Population density is much higher within Somalia’s capital city with an average 64,700 Mogadishans per square mile (25,000 per square kilometer)
- A transitional government was set up in 2000. Abdulkassim Salat Hassan was appointed as president. However, a deal to set up a new parliament wasn’t signed until 2004
- Somalia has one of the lowest enrollment rates in the world. More men are enrolled in educational programs than women (12 – 36 percent for males in comparison to 7 – 24 percent for females). This educational gender gap increases as one reaches higher education. In fact, the literacy rate for women aged 15-24 is only 25 percent
- With the creation of First Somali Bank – the first fully functioning bank in the country – the city is beginning to rebuild its economy
The Transitional Federal Government was the internationally recognized central government of Somalia between 2004 and 2012. Based in Mogadishu, it constituted the executive branch of government. The Federal Government of Somalia was established on 20 August 2012, concurrent with the end of the TFG's interim mandate. It represents the first permanent central government in the country since the start of the civil war.The Federal Parliament of Somalia serves as the government's legislative branch.
Mogadishu's municipal government is currently led by Yusuf Hussein Jimaale, who succeeded Mayor Hassan Mohamed Hussein Mungab, a former military court chairman.Among the administration's development initiatives are a US$100 million urban renewal project, the creation of garbage disposal and incineration plants, the launch of a citywide cleanup project, the creation of asphalt and cement plants, rehabilitation of the Town Hall and parliament buildings, reconstruction of the former Defence Ministry offices, reconstruction of correctional facilities, rehabilitation and construction of health facilities, establishment of a Police Training Center and a permanent base in Jasiira for the new Somali Armed Forces, rebuilding of the Somali Postal Service headquarters, and rehabilitation of public playgrounds in several districts. It also began distributing national identity cards in March of the same year. In addition, the municipal authorities started renovating important local government centers in September 2014, including the capital's former Fisho Guverno compound. In January 2015, the Benadir administration also opened a new Health & Safety Office to supervise health and safety practices in the city, and launched a municipal beautification campaign ahead of various international conferences that are slated to be held there.In March 2015, the Benadir administration completed the SECIL project in conjunction with the EU and UNHABITAT. The 3.5 million EUR initiative lasted three and a half years, and saw the establishment in Mogadishu of a new sustainable waste collection system, a Technical Training Centre, water quality testing laboratories, ameliorated access to clean drinking water, improved employment and livelihood opportunities in the low-cost fuel production sector, strengthened skills training and regulation in the construction sector, and laboratories for the testing of construction material quality.
A number of countries maintain foreign embassies and consulates in Mogadishu. He indicated that although there was no set timetable for the premises' relaunch, the US government had immediately begun upgrading its diplomatic representation in the country. President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke also presented to Kerry the real estate deed for land reserved for the new US embassy compound. Mohamud concurrently signed an Establishment Agreement with the EU Head of Delegation in Somalia Michele Cervone d’Urso, which facilitates the opening of more embassies in Mogadishu by European Union member states. The EU also announced that it had opened a new EU Delegation office in the city.In February 2014, Somalia's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Abdirahman Duale Beyle announced that the federal government was slated to reopen the former Institute of Diplomacy in Mogadishu.
Mogadishu traditionally served as a commercial and financial centre. Before the importation of mass-produced cloth from Europe and America, the city's textiles were forwarded far and wide throughout the interior of the continent, as well as to the Arabian peninsula and as far as the Persian coast.Mogadishu's economy has grown rapidly since the city's pacification in mid 2011. The SomalFruit processing factory was reopened, as was the local Coca-Cola factory, which was also refurbished. In May 2012, the First Somali Bank was established in the capital, representing the first commercial bank to open in southern Somalia since 1991. The Somali civil engineer and entrepreneur Nasra Agil also opened the city's first dollar store. Additionally, the Historic Central Bank was regenerated, with the Moumin Business Center likewise under construction.The galvanization of Mogadishu's real estate sector was in part facilitated by the establishment of a local construction yard in November 2012 by the Municipality of Istanbul and the Turkish Red Crescent. With 50 construction trucks and machines imported from Turkey, the yard produces concrete, asphalt and paving stones for building projects. The event was organized by the First Somali Bank to showcase improvements in business, development and security to potential Somali and international investors. A second consecutive TEDx entrepreneurial conference was held the following year in the capital, highlighting new enterprises and commercial opportunities, including the establishment of the city's first dry cleaning business in several years.A number of large firms also have their headquarters in Mogadishu. Among these is the Trans-National Industrial Electricity and Gas Company, an energy conglomerate founded in 2010 that unites five major Somali companies from the trade, finance, security and telecommunications sectors.Other firms based in the city include Hormuud Telecom, the largest telecommunications company in southern and central Somalia. Telcom is another telecommunications service provider that is centered in the capital. The local Somali Energy Company specializes in the generation, transmission and distribution of electric power to residents and businesses within its service area in Banaadir.Villa and Mansion Architects, an international architectural firm founded by the Somali-British architect Alexander Yusuf, likewise has its regional offices in Mogadishu. Additionally, the International Bank of Somalia, which opened downtown in 2014, offers Islamic finance and international banking services via a swift code system. The draft bill was prepared by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in conjunction with government attorneys. Approved by the Cabinet, it establishes a secure legal framework for foreign investment in Mogadishu and elsewhere in the country.In October 2014, the firm Tawakal Money Express also began construction of the seven-storey Tawakal Plaza Mogadishu. The new high rise is slated to be completed by the end of 2015, and will feature a Tawakal Global Bank customer and financial services center, a large, 338 square meter supermarket, a 46-room luxury hotel, restaurant and coffee shop facilities, and conference and event halls. In addition, the Nabaad Supermarket provides major retail service to local shoppers. Open daily until 10 pm, the convenience chain imports most of its products from the United Arab Emirates and China. The Al Buruuj firm also launched a major real estate project in January 2015, Daru-Salam City.
Improved security in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, has boosted the local economy. The return of many people from the Somali diaspora, in conjunction with further improvements to Mogadishu's security situation, has resulted in a minor economic boom, including a surge in rental prices in certain areas. Many long-abandoned seafront villas are being rebuilt as part of a construction boom that has seen rents triple in recent months in the city's prime locations. A new higher education facility, Somali International University, opened in Mogadishu on January 7th and a new Japanese-financed immigration building at the city's international airport was officially handed over to local authorities on January 14th, a few days after a new artificial pitch was laid at the national football stadium.
The bank is “branchless”—deposits, transfers and withdrawals are made through agents using point-of-sale handsets that use a mobile-phone network—and Camelcash users are identified by their fingerprints. Telecommunications is also booming. Hormuud Telecom Somalia, one of several companies serving Mogadishu, introduced its third-generation mobile network service, the first in the capital, at the end of December, promising that the network would be available in other major southern cities within a year. Hormuud's marketing director, Abdihakim Hassan Idow, said on January 7th that over 150,000 customers had signed up for the 3G service. A number of countries, including Italy, the UK and China, are planning to reopen their embassies in Mogadishu «very soon», according to the foreign minister, Fowsiyo Yusuf Hagi Adan, who announced this during her European tour in January. Central to Mrs Adan's mission was a review of Somalia's global assets, which the country intends to recover. On January 11th the president, Hassan Sheikh Mohammed, held talks at his residence with a visiting delegation from the World Bank. In a press release, Mr Hassan said that Somalia was ready to re-engage with the World Bank after a 22-year break in bilateral relations caused by the collapse of government in 1990. The local economy's rapid growth is likely to continue and a re-engagement with international financial institutions can be expected during the forecast period.
Roads leading out of Mogadishu connect the city to other localities in Somalia as well as to neighbouring countries. The capital itself is cut into several grid layouts by an extensive road network, with streets supporting the flow of both vehicular and pedestrian traffic. In October 2013, major construction began on the 23 kilometer road leading to the airport. Overseen by Somali and Turkish engineers, the upgrade was completed in November and included lane demarcation. The road construction initiative was part of a larger agreement signed by the Somali and Turkish governments to establish Mogadishu and Istanbul as sister cities, and in the process bring all of Mogadishu's roads up to modern standards. Following the treaty, the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency launched a citywide cleaning project in conjunction with the municipal cleaning department. The initiative saw around 100 rubbish collection vehicles and other equipment operated by TIKA clean the city's roads, with the Benadir municipality taking over operation of the cleaning project in March 2015. In 2012–2013, Mogadishu's municipal authority in conjunction with the British and Norwegian governments began a project to install solar-powered street lights on all of the capital's major roads. With equipment imported from Norway, the initiative cost around $140,000 and lasted several months. The solar panels have helped to improve night-time visibility and enhance the city's overall aesthetic appeal.
Minibuses are the most common type of public transportation in Mogadishu. The next most frequently used public vehicles in the city are auto rickshaws . They are generally preferred for shorter commutes.In June 2013, two new taxi companies also started offering road transportation to residents. Part of a fleet of over 100 vehicles, Mogadishu Taxi's trademark yellow cabs offer rides throughout the city at flat rates of $5. City Taxi, the firm's nearest competitor, charges the same flat rate, with plans to add new cabs to its fleet.In January 2014, the Benadir administration launched a citywide street naming, house numbering and postal codes project. Officially called the House Numbering and Post Code System, it is a joint initiative of the municipal authorities and Somali business community representatives. The project is part of the ongoing modernization and development of the capital. According to former Mayor Mohamed Ahmed Nur, the initiative also aims to help the authorities firm up on security and resolve housing ownership disputes. In March 2015, the Benadir administration likewise launched a renovation project on the Hawo Asir-Fagah major road in Mogadishu. The government-public partnership aims to facilitate vehicle access in the area. According to Karaan district commissioner Ahmed Hassan Yalah'ow, the reconstruction initiative will also make the road all-weather resistant and is slated to be completed shortly.
During the post-independence period, Mogadishu International Airport offered flights to numerous global destinations.In the mid-1960s, the airport was enlarged to accommodate more international carriers, with the state-owned Somali Airlines providing regular trips to all major cities. By 1969, the airport's many landing grounds could also host small jets and DC 6B-type aircraft.The facility grew considerably in size in the post-independence period after successive renovation projects. With the outbreak of the civil war in the early 1990s, Mogadishu International Airport's flight services experienced routine disruptions and its grounds and equipment were largely destroyed. In the late 2000s, the K50 Airport, situated 50 kilometers to the south, served as the capital's main airport while Mogadishu International Airport, now renamed Aden Adde International Airport, briefly shut down. The company also assisted in comprehensive infrastructure renovations, restored a dependable supply of electricity, revamped the baggage handling facilities as well as the arrival and departure lounges, put into place electronic check-in systems, and firmed up on security and work-flow. Additionally, SKA connected the grounds' Somali Civil Aviation and Meteorological Agency and immigration, customs, commercial airlines and Somali Police Force officials to the internet. By January 2013, the firm had introduced shuttle buses to ferry travelers to and from the passenger terminal. In January 2015, a new, state-of-the-art terminal was opened at the airport. Featuring modern passenger facilities and a glass façade, it will enable the airport to double its number of daily commercial flights to 60, with a throughput of around 1,000 passengers per hour.As of January 2015, the largest airline services using Aden Adde International Airport include the Somali-owned private carriers Jubba Airways, Daallo Airlines, and African Express Airways, in addition to UN charter planes, Turkish Airlines, and Felix Airways . The airport also offers flights to other cities in Somalia, such as Galkayo, Berbera and Hargeisa, as well as to international destinations like Djibouti, Jeddah,and Istanbul.In July 2012, Mohammed Osman Ali , the General Director of the Ministry of Aviation and Transport, also announced that the Somali government had begun preparations to revive the Mogadishu-based national carrier, Somali Airlines. The first new aircraft were scheduled for delivery in December 2013.
The Port of Mogadishu, also known as the Mogadishu International Port, is the official seaport of Mogadishu. Classified as a major class port, it is the largest harbour in the country.After incurring some damage during the civil war, the federal government launched the Mogadishu Port Rehabilitation Project,an initiative to rebuild, develop and modernize the port. The renovations included the installation of Alpha Logistics technology.A joint international delegation consisting of the Director of the Port of Djibouti and Chinese officials specializing in infrastructure reconstruction concurrently visited the facility in June 2013. According to Mogadishu Port manager Abdullahi Ali Nur, the delegates along with local Somali officials received reports on the port's functions as part of the rebuilding project's planning stages.In 2013, the Port of Mogadishu's management reportedly reached an agreement with representatives of the Iranian company Simatech Shipping LLC to handle vital operations at the seaport. Under the name Mogadishu Port Container Terminal, the firm is slated to handle all of the port's technical and operational functions.In October 2013, the federal Cabinet endorsed an agreement with the Turkish firm Al-Bayrak to manage the Port of Mogadishu for a 20-year period.
Somalia’s capital city of Mogadishu is defined by a complex mix of challenges and opportunities. Despite political and economic struggles, Somalis are innovating to break the chronic cycle of vulnerability. Supported in many cases by the international Somali diaspora, people in Mogadishu are using technology to solve problems and tap into new markets.iRise co-facilitated an innovation camp with UNDP last September, and will be launching its first incubation program for local entrepreneurs this week, challenging the idea that technology and incubation hubs are limited to high-income countries.
With the right support, there is huge potential for home-grown digital solutions. Existing examples include the high prevalence and use of mobile money, which allows rural and inaccessible communities to receive remittances and humanitarian support. Abaaraha crisis mapping platform provides relief responders with timely geospatial information.These cases demonstrate the breadth of innovation, which is not isolated from the contextual challenges in Mogadishu. During the devastating bombing in October 2017, iRise was busy coordinating efforts and established an ad hoc national emergency call center and information support team, collaborating with mobile operators, the government, and civil society.
These initiatives could not have been possible without the internet. The internet brings local skills to an international market, and solutions to challenges in Somalia readily find applications elsewhere. However, one area that has lagged in Somalia is the availability of reliable and relevant data to support the implementation of businesses and social projects. While this has not yet taken off in the private sector in Africa, projects like Missing Maps and the Humanitarian Openstreetmap Team have shown the potential for humanitarian and development work.Yet, the limitations to developing digital skills are significant. Although more and more residents are gaining access to high-speed internet, there are limited opportunities to acquire the skills that are needed to succeed in the digital economy. Moreover, as the Somali government mobilizes more revenue from its traditional sectors, it has become important for the country to diversify its economy through digital innovations.
Supported by a small grant from the World Bank’s Youth Innovation Fund and a contribution from the Digital Development team, we are working with iRise to develop these skills and allow young people in Mogadishu to work on life-improving innovations.
Social Wellness and Human Resources
Apart from the Somalis, several minorities had historically lived in the city. With the beginning of Islam, Arab and Persian migrants began to settle; forming the first immigrants. Centuries of intermarriage between the various ethnic groups, which also include Bantus, produced a minority people called ‘Ad’ad. In the colonial period, European expatriates, primarily Italians, would also contribute to the city's cosmopolitan populace. Following a greatly improved security situation in the city in 2012, many Somali expatriates began returning to Mogadishu for investment opportunities and to take part in the ongoing post-conflict reconstruction process.
Through both private efforts and public initiatives like the Somali Diaspora Corps, they have participated in the renovation of schools, hospitals, banks and other infrastructure, and have played a leading role in the capital's recovery.They have also helped to propel the local real estate market.According to Demographia, Mogadishu has a population of around 2,425,000 residents as of April 2017. It is the 210th largest city in the world by population size. The urban area occupies 91 square kilometres , with a population density of around 26,800 inhabitants per square kilometre . As Somalia's capital city, many important national institutions are based in Mogadishu. It is the seat of the Federal Government of Somalia established in August 2012, with the Somalia Federal Parliament serving as the government's legislative branch. Abdirahman Omar Osman has been the Mayor of Mogadishu since January 2018. Villa Somalia is the official residential palace and principal workplace of the President of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed. In May 2012, the First Somali Bank was established in the capital, which organized Mogadishu's first ever Technology, Entertainment, Design conference. The establishment of a local construction yard has also galvanized the city's real-estate sector. Arba'a Rukun Mosque is one of the oldest Islamic places of worship in the capital, built circa AH 667 . The Mosque of Islamic Solidarity in Mogadishu is the largest masjid in the Horn region. The National Library of Somalia is undergoing a US$1.5 million Somali federal government funded renovation, including a new library complex.
Mogadishu is home to a number of scholastic and media institutions. As part of the municipality's urban renewal program, 100 schools across the capital are scheduled to be refurbished and reopened. The Somali National University was established in the 1950s, and professors from the university later founded the non-governmental Mogadishu University . Benadir University was established in 2002 with the intention of training doctors. Various national sporting bodies have their headquarters in Mogadishu, including the Somali Football Federation and the Somali Olympic Committee. Mogadishu Stadium was constructed in 1978 during the Siad Barre administration, with the assistance of Chinese engineers. It hosts football matches with teams from the Somali First Division and the Somalia Cup.