By Barkhad Dahir in Hargeisa
A factory that produces paper, boxes and student notebooks -- the first such industry to be in operation in Somalia in two decades -- opened in Hargeisa this past weekend.
An employee works at the newly opened AADCO Paper Factory in Hargeisa. [Barkhad Dahir/Sabahi]
Employees assemble books, office paper and packaging cartons at the AADCO Paper Factory.
Establishing the AADCO Paper Factory has been in the works since 2009, owner Aden Barado said at the opening ceremony on Saturday (January 5th).
"It took so long because we are in a country that was destroyed," Barado said, adding that it is difficult to start a factory in Somalia where there is little support to ease the process.
The factory began construction in January 2012 and finished in December.
The factory has 50 employees, including women, and more people will be hired soon, according to Director of Technology Mohamud Abdullahi Ahmed, who said some of the workers had been trained in China.
Every 16 hours, the plant produces 70,000 books that are ready to be sold in the market, he told Sabahi. The factory is environmentally friendly and uses a system that limits excess noise and smoke, he said.
This is the first factory of its kind to open in Somalia since the collapse of the central government two decades ago, factory General Manager Hassan Nur said. The total cost of the project was about $5 million.
During the first phase, the factory is slated to print exercise books for students, factory General Manager Hassan Nur told Sabahi. Within the first few months of 2013, it will also produce A4 office paper, notebooks and packaging cartons, Nur said.
In an effort to stop importing factory materials from abroad, the company will at the end of the year manufacture its own materials to make paper. "We want to be self-sufficient with the printing materials that our production requires, which we currently buy from China," Nur said.
"Our aim is to sell our products across Somalia and to neighbouring countries such as Djibouti and Ethiopia," he said.
Improving conditions for local manufacturing
The new paper plant will help people in the region save a lot of money that they spend on imported books and office paper, said Mohamed Shukri Jama, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture.
"It will increase job creation, knowledge and investment, and we welcome it," he said.
From 2000 to 2012, he said his agency licensed 58 factories in Somaliland that produced various goods, but only 18 of them currently operate. He said the defunct factories each received between $1 and $5 million from private investors, but failed to be profitable and eventually closed.
He said negative conditions, such as lack of government support, loan access and technological support, can hinder local production. To support local manufacturing, taxes should be increased on imported products so that people will buy locally produced goods, he said.
Minister of Commerce, Industries and Tourism Abdirizak Khalif Ahmed, who addressed the opening ceremony, said his ministry is planning to do just that. Ahmed said he recently forwarded to the Ministry of Finance a plan to increase taxes on imported products that are similar to locally manufactured goods in order to support and protect local manufacturing.
Somaliland regional President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo cut the ribbon at the ceremony, promising that his administration is committed to promoting investment in the region and increasing job creation through policy and technical support.