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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 July, 2004, 10:49 GMT 11:49 UK
Coca-Cola makes Somalia return
Grant Ferrett
BBC, Mogadishu

AbdiRisak Isse in the Coca-Cola factory
AbdiRisak: 'This is the beginning of a new era for Somalia.'
A new bottling plant has opened in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

It is the largest single investment in the country since central government collapsed 13 years ago, and is a sign of growing business confidence.

More than 500 people attended the opening of the Coca-Cola plant, whose forerunner was destroyed in the early 90s.

The absence of a central government and continuing lawlessness in Somalia has, until now, deterred investors.

The old Coke plant was destroyed at the beginning of the country's civil war.

But the relative calm of the last few years has encouraged Somalis living overseas to put more money back into the country.

The man behind the Coca-Cola factory, AbdiRisak Isse, told the BBC that the opening was a big day, not just for him but for the whole of Somalia.

'Automatic rifles'

"This is the beginning of a new era for Somalia," Mr Isse said, "This is the turning point. Somalia is normal and anybody can do business here.

"We need to work for to make the security better, and we want to create investment confidence in this country, and we need so many people to come back to their home country and do business here."

Other businesses have sprung up already, such as mobile phone companies, internet cafés and radio stations.

But conditions are tough.

Mogadishu's main airport and sea port have been closed for years because of rivalries between clan-based militias.

The Somali capital's roads have disintegrated and there is no mains electricity.

It is a sign of how insecure Mogadishu remains that the new Coca-Cola factory has increased the number of armed security staff to 100 for the opening day.

Will the return of Coca-Cola to Somalia signal a change in fortunes for the country's economy? Have you been affected by this story or are you a Somali living overseas who is also thinking of investing there? Send us your comments and experiences.

I think it's a positive sign. Coca-Cola is one of the proverbial 900-pound gorillas of the global economy and has been a vanguard of capitalism in other areas of the globe. While the effects of Westernisation will no doubt dissatisfy many native Somalis, I doubt they will begrudge it the accompanying stability.
Keith, Athens,USA

The salvation of the Somali people is in the hands of Somalis and those who are educated and exposed in the Western system of thinking without leaving our Somali culuture and heritage behind.
Mohamoud Farah Egal, Awadal region

I delighted to hear such type of promtion in my own country which is our ultimate home. Absolutely it will change the status of the Somalian economy.
Noor Yousuf, Hyderabad ,India

It's a good sign that someone like Abdirizaq Issa who is optimistic to invest alot of money now in Mogadishu, the place where I was born and grew up and I would like very very much to see again.
Bile Jama, Oslo, Norway/ Somali person

Will the return of Coca-Cola to Somalia signal a change in fortunes for the country's economy? It will for few, the few that have the right clan afilitations and right connections with the warlords. This will create, in the long run, an extremely wealthy few and a greater poor population.
Leo, Canada

The war lords should stay clear from the plant and allow long suffering innocent Somalis to earn a living.
Nwankwo Obinna Emmanuel, Abuja, Nigeria

The fortunes of the country's economy can't change by the return of Coca-Cola if the people themselves do not destroy the war lords who breed terror. I am an African and deeply touched by this honest humanitarian gamble that Coca-Cola through Mr Isse has embarked on. He needs all our prayers.
Austin Anadu, Georgia, USA

I'm a Somali living in Vancouver, Canada, I've been here since my childhood, which was the start of the civil war. I'm now an educated and business minded young man, whose looking to invest and at the same time start my own company. I think the Coca-Cola factory started in Mogadishu is a good start for the whole of Somalia, but in order for more investments to occur we need a central government immediately, and a set of laws and regulations. I think more investment should be directed towards the north cities, such as Galkayo and the port city of Boosaaso, where safety is number one. May there be peace, prosperity, and unity in all of Somalia.
Abdullahi Issac Ibrahiim, Vancouver, Canada

How often, and how much, does a large multinational coming into a developing country truly help the local economy develop? I suppose this hinges on your belief in "trickle down economics", but the answer seems clear to me that the wealthy few benefit by far the most, while the poor benefit minimally, and for only a short-term.
Andrew Mahlstedt, Pune, India

It is milestone to see such change in our economy. As a Somali-Canadian I am encouraged by this news, inshallah I myself will be returing to Somalia in the near future. However, I wish the businessmen who return to Somalia do not carry with them the disease that ruined our country to begin with.
Farhan Mohamed, Ottawa, Canada

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