World Travel Guide > Guides > Africa > Somalia

Somalia: Doing business and staying in touch

Doing Business in Somalia

Wear lightweight suits without a tie in hot weather. The best time to visit is October to May.

Office Hours

Sat-Thurs 0800-1400.


Somalia's economy has been seriously dislocated by years of fighting and political strife, as well as a severe long-term drought which has affected the whole of East Africa. Somalia now ranks among the poorest countries in the world.

Subsistence agriculture and livestock rearing occupy most of the working population, although development is hampered by primitive techniques, poor soil and climatic conditions, and a chronic labour shortage. Bananas are the main cash crop and provide nearly half the country's export earnings; cotton, maize, sorghum and other crops are produced for domestic consumption. Animal products, particularly hides and skins, are another key source of revenue, mainly from Saudi Arabia.

Fishing has dwindled to the level of individual small boats, but there are provisional plans to restore this to full commercial capacity. Oil and gas deposits have been located but their exploitation has been in abeyance due to the lack of an effective central government. There is little industry other than small-scale operations to meet domestic needs, mainly food-processing and oil refining.


US$5.38 billion (2007).

Main exports

Livestock, bananas, hides, fish, charcoal and scrap metal.

Main imports

Food grains, animal and vegetable oils, petroleum products, construction materials and manufactured products.

Main trading partners

Yemen and United Arab Emirates.

Keeping in Touch in Somalia


Outgoing international calls must be made via the operator.

Mobile Phone

Several companies exist but there are currently no roaming agreements with international comapanies.


Somalia's SomaliNet is one of the country's first ISPs. Internet facilities for visitors are yet to be fully established.


Somalia's disintegration has been reflected in its media. Broadcasters and journalists operate in a dangerous environment, affecting their ability to report freely, and many Somalis rely on foreign broadcasts for their news.


Airmail to Europe takes up to two weeks.

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