Postal service and cash machines return to Mogadishu.
Two recent developments illustrate how business confidence is slowly returning to the war-ravaged city. The Somali government has launched its first postal service in more than two decades, and has also introduced postcodes nationwide – a first for the country.
The reintroduction of the postal service – which fell into disuse after the Siad Barre regime collapsed in 1991 – is another sign that some semblance of normality is returning to Somalia. Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Mohamed Ibrahim said Somalis would now be able to receive letters from abroad. He said the next phase would be to enable them to send letters to friends and relatives living abroad.
The week before the postal service relaunched, the country first-ever cash withdrawal machine was installed in Mogadishu in late September, by Salaam Somali Bank in the upmarket hotel Jazeera Palace Hotel near Aden Adde international airport.
According to Justus Mulinge Kisaulu, the hotel’s general manager, “Most of the customers were not aware there is an ATM in Somalia. Local residents, most of them don’t have a debit credit or a credit card to use the ATM”.
While the machine is only available for customers with a MasterCard, Visa or American Express card, and there is currently no option for customers to withdraw money in currencies other than the US dollar, Moallim Abukar, marketing manager of Salaam Somali Bank, says such an option will be available soon.
Dahabshiil, one of the biggest international money transfer businesses in Africa with 286 locations in Somalia, plans to follow suit and open an ATM in Mogadishu and Hargeisa, but says these facilitates will not replace the need for its traditional remittance services.
According to the Africa Research Institute, a British think-tank focused on sub-Saharan Africa, more than $1.2bn is remitted to Somalia each year. This is more than half of Somalia’s gross national income, and also more than the total amount of international aid sent to the region.