Country Listing

Somalia Table of Contents



Salient Features: Formerly socialist-oriented economy undergoing market-oriented structural adjustment until 1991. Stabilization and macroeconomic adjustment programs implemented during 1980s under auspices of international credit and aid agencies. Privatization of wholesale trade and financial sectors largely complete by 1991; economic growth sporadic and uneven across sectors. Most economic activity disrupted by breakdown of Somali state in 1991.

Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, and Fisheries: Crop and livestock production, forestry, and fisheries, accounted for bulk of gross domestic product (GDP) in 1991; livestock predominant agricultural export, also important source of animal products (mostly milk) for internal markets and subsistence. Crop cultivation dominated by rural subsistence sector, which generated sufficient surpluses to sustain domestic informal markets and barter economy until 1990. Main crops: sorghum, corn; incipient production of mild narcotic qat suppressed by central government during mid-1980s. Small plantation sector dedicated primarily to export of bananas and sugarcane. Domestic grain supply supplemented by international food aid. Small forestry sector dominated by production for export of frankincense and myrrh. Fisheries production showed modest growth during 1980s but remained minor economic activity. Agricultural activity severely curtailed as result of drought and breakdown of Somali state in 1991.

Mining: Mining contribution to GDP negligible (.3 percent of GDP in 1988) despite substantial deposits of gypsumanhydrite , quartz and piezoquartz, uranium, and iron ore. Meerschaum sepiolite mined; gold deposits suspected but not confirmed.

Manufacturing: Small manufacturing sector, based primarily on processing of agricultural products, consisted of few large state enterprises, hundreds of medium-sized private firms, and thousands of small-scale informal operations. Largescale enterprises dedicated mainly to processing of sugar, milk, and hides and skins. Overall manufacturing output declined during 1980s as result of failure of inefficient state enterprises under market conditions. Manufacturing activity further curtailed by civil war and collapse of Somali state. By 1990 manufacturing ceased to play significant role in economy (about 5 percent of GDP).

Energy: Domestic wood, charcoal, and imported petroleum provided basic sources of energy; significant hydroelectric potential of Jubba River remained unexploited; four small-scale wind turbine generators operated in Mogadishu. Prior to civil war, eighty state-owned oil-fired and diesel power plants provided electricity to cities and towns. Refining capacity limited to one refinery. Foreign oil supplies erratic throughout 1980s. United Nations Development Programme hydrocarbon study in 1991 indicated good potential for oil and gas deposits in northern Somalia.

Foreign Trade: Exports consisted of agricultural raw materials and food products. Livestock and bananas principal exports, followed by hides and skins, fish and fish products, and myrrh. Trade balance remained negative throughout 1980s and early 1990s. Principal imports in descending order: food, transportation equipment, nonelectrical machinery, cement and building materials, and iron and steel. Italy and Arab states main destinations of exports; Italy main country of origin for imported Somali goods in 1990; other minor suppliers included Norway, Bahrain, and Britain.

Currency: Somali shilling. During 1980s currency alternated between fixed and floating rates; as of March 31, 1992, US$1 equaled 3,800 shillings.