A remarkable turnabout in Mogadishu

Those dreaded insurgents who once controlled much of Somalia are gone, and the economy is bouncing back. Who knows whether the recovery is here to stay - Somalia has had any number of short-lived comebacks - but NYT reporter Jeffrey Gettleman lays out a convincing case for growth. And it's a lesson for American naysayers: Any economy, no matter how beaten up, can be reborn.

People here are sensing the moment and seizing it. More than 300,000 residents have come back to the city in the past six months, local aid groups say, and many are cheerfully carting away chunks of rubble and resurrecting their bullet-riddled homes. The economic boom, fueled by an infusion of tens of millions of dollars, much of it from Somalis flocking home from overseas, is spawning thousands of jobs that are beginning to absorb young militiamen eager to get out of the killing business. Given Mogadishu's importance to the country, it all adds up to a huge opportunity.


[Mohammed Sheik Nur] Taatey, 38, is a fishmonger, presiding over the day's catch and auctioning it off to wholesale buyers. His personal finances have soared in the past several months, an apt example, especially in this case, that a rising tide lifts all boats. The surge of people returning to Mogadishu and the opening of new restaurants and hotels have steadily driven up the price of fish, from about 50 cents a pound a few years ago, when Mogadishu was a shellshocked ghost town, to $2 today. And the catch is quite good, an upbeat sign for Somalia's reviving seafood industry, which has recently caught the eye of Asian investors. Just the other day, porter after porter stumbled through the fish market's doorway quivering under the weight of 150-pound blue marlins slung across their shoulders. "Oh, look, shark-fish!" Mr. Taatey shouted out in exuberant, broken English as a team of fishermen dragged in a 400-pound shark. Mr. Taatey promptly sold it for $600.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
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