Somalia summit talks tech and apps, not guns and bombs

Tech entrepreneurs in Somalia are holding a first-ever summit in battle-scarred Mogadishu, attracting hundreds to talk about business and innovation in a city more used to conflict and suffering.

The three-day event that began on Tuesday was conceived by a group of young Somalis to showcase the work of dozens of local companies.

“This is an opportunity to change negative impressions of Somalia, to give an image other than that of war, chaos and starvation,” said Abdihakim Ainte, founder of Mogadishu’s iRise Hub and the event’s main organiser.

“Just like other technology summits in the world, it brings together technology entrepreneurs, students and government to discuss technology and economic development,” he said.

Somalia collapsed into civil war in 1991 and since then has endured successive rounds of conflict involving clan-based militias, foreign armies and, latterly, Al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists the Al-Shabaab.

While a succession of internationally-backed governments have failed to stem corruption or bring peace, Somali entrepreneurship has persisted and economic activity thrived, despite the absence of a functioning state.

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