Somalia Economy - 2021


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Economic overview

Despite the lack of effective national governance, Somalia maintains an informal economy largely based on livestock, remittance/money transfer companies, and telecommunications. Somalia's government lacks the ability to collect domestic revenue and external debt – mostly in arrears – was estimated at about 77% of GDP in 2017.

Agriculture is the most important sector, with livestock normally accounting for about 40% of GDP and more than 50% of export earnings. Nomads and semi-pastoralists, who are dependent upon livestock for their livelihood, make up a large portion of the population. Economic activity is estimated to have increased by 2.4% in 2017 because of growth in the agriculture, construction and telecommunications sector. Somalia's small industrial sector, based on the processing of agricultural products, has largely been looted and the machinery sold as scrap metal.

In recent years, Somalia's capital city, Mogadishu, has witnessed the development of the city's first gas stations, supermarkets, and airline flights to Turkey since the collapse of central authority in 1991. Mogadishu's main market offers a variety of goods from food to electronic gadgets. Hotels continue to operate and are supported with private-security militias. Formalized economic growth has yet to expand outside of Mogadishu and a few regional capitals, and within the city, security concerns dominate business. Telecommunication firms provide wireless services in most major cities and offer the lowest international call rates on the continent. In the absence of a formal banking sector, money transfer/remittance services have sprouted throughout the country, handling up to $1.6 billion in remittances annually, although international concerns over the money transfers into Somalia continues to threaten these services’ ability to operate in Western nations. In 2017, Somalia elected a new president and collected a record amount of foreign aid and investment, a positive sign for economic recovery.

Real GDP growth rate

2.3% (2017 est.)

4.4% (2016 est.)

3.9% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 122

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

1.5% (2017 est.)

-71.1% (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 92

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$20.44 billion (2017 est.)

$19.98 billion (2016 est.)

$19.14 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2016 US dollars

country comparison to the world: 150

GDP (official exchange rate)

$7.052 billion (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 60.2% (2013 est.)

industry: 7.4% (2013 est.)

services: 32.5% (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 72.6% (2015 est.)

government consumption: 8.7% (2015 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 20% (2015 est.)

investment in inventories: 0.8% (2016 est.)

exports of goods and services: 0.3% (2015 est.)

imports of goods and services: -1.6% (2015 est.)

Ease of Doing Business Index scores

Overall score: 20 (2020)

Starting a Business score: 46 (2020)

Trading score: 51.6 (2020)

Enforcement score: 54.6 (2020)

Agricultural products

camel milk, milk, sheep milk, goat milk, sugar cane, fruit, sorghum, cassava, vegetables, maize


light industries, including sugar refining, textiles, wireless communication

Industrial production growth rate

3.5% (2014 est.)

country comparison to the world: 90

Labor force

4.154 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 87

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 71%

industry: 29%

industry and services: 29% (1975)

Unemployment rate


Population below poverty line


Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA

highest 10%: NA


revenues: 145.3 million (2014 est.)

expenditures: 151.1 million (2014 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

2.1% (of GDP) (2014 est.)

country comparison to the world: 221

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-0.1% (of GDP) (2014 est.)

country comparison to the world: 49

Public debt

76.7% of GDP (2017 est.)

93% of GDP (2014 est.)

country comparison to the world: 39

Fiscal year


Current account balance

-$464 million (2017 est.)

-$427 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 119


$819 million (2014 est.)

$779 million (2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 167

Exports - partners

United Arab Emirates 47%, Saudi Arabia 19%, India 5%, Japan 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

gold, sheep, goats, sesame seeds, insect resins, cattle (2019)


$94.43 billion (2018 est.)

$80.07 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 49

Imports - partners

United Arab Emirates 32%, China 20%, India 17%, Turkey 7% (2019)

Imports - commodities

cigarettes, raw sugar, rice, broadcasting equipment, textiles (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$30.45 million (2014 est.)

country comparison to the world: 189

Debt - external

$5.3 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

country comparison to the world: 131

Exchange rates

Somali shillings (SOS) per US dollar -

23,960 (2016 est.)

NOTE: The information regarding Somalia on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Somalia 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Somalia 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.