Somalia inks $200 million infrastructure deal with Qatar

Somalia has inked a $ 200 million infrastructure deal with Qatar. Funds will go towards the reconstruction of roads and government buildings. Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre personally witnessed the signing.

CGTN’s Abdulaziz Billow has more details from Mogadishu

The $200 million deal is the biggest to date agreed by the new Somali government.

“The agreements are mainly development oriented — renovating roads, building new infrastructure, and creating employment opportunities for young people. Some of these projects are already under way, others will commence soon.”  Investment and Economic Development minister, Jamal Hassan said.

Some of the key aspects of the project include a 90 kilometre tarred road linking Mogadishu to the agricultural towns of Jowhar and Afgooye.

The deal comes amid a bitter standoff between Gulf nations. The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar – accusing it of supporting terrorism – a charge the country has vehemently denied.

Somalia was among the first Muslim countries to maintain a neutral stance in that standoff between Qatar and its Arab neighbours. The country also opened its airspace to Qatar Airways after the land, sea and air blockade was implemented. Experts say this deal is Doha’s way of endorsing Mogadishu’s approach to the Gulf rift.

“I am thrilled to inform you that the Qatar Investment Authority is renewing its pledges to Somalia in terms of human development programmes and economic growth. Other areas of focus are education and job creation for the youth.” Qatar investment authority CEO Khanifa Jassim Al-Kuwari said.

Meanwhile, the UAE is also a big investor in Somalia. It’s signed lucrative deals to rebuild ports in the Puntland and Somaliland regions in the country’s north, hoping to turn these into transportation hubs for the Horn of Africa.

In October, Somalia received 50 million dollars in aid from Saudi Arabia.

After his election victory, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo’s first official state visit was to Riyadh.

Amid the ongoing Gulf dispute, Somali authorities have urged Arab nations not to interfere in the country’s internal matters – calling for mutual respect and cooperation.