By Mohamed Abdimalik
GOOBJOOG NEWS|MOGADISHU: State Minister for Commerce and Industry (MoCI), Abdulkadir Sharif launched the Somalia Trade Information Portal (STIP) on Wednesday which will enhance business owners and investors access to trade and regulatory information.
The site, https://www.stip.gov.so/ , available in Somali and English, is now the official data portal to freely access and download trade-related laws, procedures, and forms, said MoCI press statement released after the launch event.
Portal users will access various standard forms, procedures, easy to understand flow-charts, and other detailed guides on obtaining various government registrations, permits, and clear guidance on the export and import of goods from and into Somalia.
Screenshot of the newly launched Somalia Trade Information Portal.
Speaking on the occasion of the launch event, Hon. Abdulkadir said that with this “information system,” citizens, importers, exporters, and foreign investors can now access up-to-date trade regulatory information and news.
Users can also request and receive timely support from the newly established STIP office, which is tasked with maintaining the site, updating content, and responding to public requests.
The minister said the platform would also help Somalia realize the spirit of transparency and improve the speed of service delivery. The establishment of the portal is also seen as an essential step towards long-sought after trade reforms necessary to spur regional trade and further supports Somalia’s bid to join the World Trade Organization.
Praising the STIP initiative, MoCI Director General Abdiaziz Ibrahim said that STIP’s launch is a crucial and timely milestone for Somalia.
“With the Covid-19 lockdown still in place, we have a limited number of civil servants in our offices. The portal will therefore help us significantly reduce foot traffic since we have now shared online a host of frequently asked information and documents.”
Abdiaziz said that MoCI is moving most business services online and that from now on, there “won’t be any need to visit or queue at our offices for information.”
In his speech, the deputy chairman of Somalia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), Abdirahman Abdullahi Galaanbi, lauded the “new innovative system.” He said by making information available, the site will save traders time and also make doing business in Somalia “fast and easy.”
“Lack of access to capital and trade information are two of the biggest barriers facing women-owned business in Somalia. Young women traders, in particular, are worst affected. I will share the site with our network, and I hope it can help them to navigate the complex requirements of international trade,” said Iqra Dhool, the director of Somali Women in Business (SWIB) Forum, an organization that helps connect women business owners to share information and discuss issues of concern.
Trade and marketing director, Ahmed Warsame, showcased the portal’s features and functionalities during today’s launch event, held at Decale Hotel in Mogadishu. The event was attended by over 100 representatives, including trade directors from numerous ministries, the chamber of commerce, private sector organizations, companies, and virtually by members of the international community.
Somalia now becomes the sixth Eastern Africa nation to launch an official trade information portal, after other countries in the region recently inaugurated similar initiatives.
The establishment of STIP was made possible by the collaboration of over 20 ministries, agencies and MoCI, with technical support from the International Financial Corporation (IFC)/World Bank, and funding from Denmark, EU, and UK’s FCDO.
Mohamed Abdimalik is an independent journalist based in Mogadishu and contributing data reporter for Goobjoog News. He is also the Director of FESOJ Disinformation Lab.