Events - 02.05.2013 - 00:00 

Mogadishu: A city like a ruin

The 43rd St. Gallen Symposium has opened its doors. Its topic: “Rewarding Courage”. One of the first speakers was Mohamoud Ahmed Nur, the mayor of Mogadishu. Without courage, there is virtually nothing doing in the capital.


2 May 2013. Mohamoud Nur did not accept spontaneously when he was asked to become mayor of Mogadishu. To begin with, he declined twice; he was living in the UK at the time. In the end, the President was still able to persuade him. He took office in 2010. “I took over a city in ruins,” he said in his address. Since the Somali civil war broke out in the early 1990s, Mogadishu has literally fallen apart – both in terms of infrastructure and in terms of society.

Bring back security and confidence

Mohamoud Nur was convinced that the first thing was to free people of a sense of fear, to “break windows into this cruel box” which violence-ridden Mogadishu had become, in order to reveal new perspectives for people’s lives, in order to give them security and confidence and to create new cornerstones for a working civil society, economy and politics. This requires courage in Mogadishu, a great deal of courage, if like Nur, you receive daily death threats at the initial stage of your term of office, while high-ranking politicians are murdered on a regular basis.

Potential in agriculture and fisheries

The mayor has not let himself be intimidated and outlines a picture of his city which has distinctly bettered since he took office three years ago. “The security situation has improved,” he said. The streets are lit again in Mogadishu – by solar-powered lamps because the city lacks the funds for electricity generated by other means.

The mobile telephony network has spread throughout the whole country, as has a banking system, for example, through which money can be transferred in a simple way. And Nur also mentioned the high degree of economic potential which, after decades full of conflict, still lies completely fallow: “We have eight million square kilometres of agriculturally usable land and more than 2,500 kilometres of coastline, but we have neither commercial agriculture nor commercial fisheries.” 

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