Mogadishu(Mogadishu)-The Turkish-owned bank, Ziraat Katilim, opened a branch in Somalia on Sunday, becoming the first international bank to extend its services within Somalia in over 50 years.

In an official statement, the Central Bank of Somalia (CBS) stated that this move will enhance economic opportunities and trade between Somalia and its international partners.

“The Central Bank of Somalia is pleased to announce the official inauguration and operationalization of Ziraat Katilim Bank, Somalia Branch on October 29, 2023. This will further enhance economic opportunities and trade between the Federal Government of Somalia and its trading partners, including the Republic of Turkey,” the CBS statement read.

The bank was granted its license to establish a branch in Somalia on July 2, 2022, after successfully meeting the required standards.

The statement from the Central Bank added that Ziraat Katilim Bank will offer a range of banking services for internationally owned businesses, institutions, and employees of its development partners.

“The new branch of Ziraat Katilim Bank in Somalia will offer a wide range of corporate banking services to businesses, international institutions, and development partners,” the statement added.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, the Central Bank Governor, Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi, mentioned that the opening of this branch reflects Somalia’s financial institutional reforms.

“We are happy to see the operationalization of Ziraat Katilim Bank in Mogadishu. This is a testament to the success of the reforms to Somalia’s finance sector, further enhancing opportunities for investment and development,” stated CBS Governor, Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi.

He added, “It’s a historic moment for all of us. Ziraat Katilim is the first international bank to establish operations in Somalia for more than five decades. We anticipate the new bank will add value to the development of Somalia’s financial sector and contribute to the growth of our economy.”

Somalia’s Finance Minister, Bihi Iman Egeh, underscored the importance of operationalizing the bank in Somalia for the country’s economic growth.

“We are delighted to witness the operationalization of Ziraat Bank in Somalia, which will be an important pillar for our economic growth and a connection for international trading and investments. This bank will empower investors to invest in our country, promote our economic growth, and provide us with access to excel in the international trading market,” said Minister Bihi Iman Egeh.

The minister emphasized the longstanding relationship between Somalia and Turkey, as well as Turkish continuous support to Somalia.

“We have a longstanding relationship with Turkey, which has played a key role in the reconstruction of Somalia. While facing several challenges, the Turkish president visited our country and affirmed his support to us. His visit has opened the way for more international partners and organizations to focus more on Somalia,” he added.

He mentioned the critical role played by Turkish Airlines, which became the first international airline to start its operations in Somalia and opened the route for other international airlines currently operating in the country.

Ziraat Katilim Bank is a state-owned participation bank, a member of Ziraat Finance Group, which operates in 20 different countries with 15 subsidiaries and 27 branches abroad.

Somalia has, over the past few years, managed to reform its financial institutions, which has attracted international investments, leading to economic growth.

These financial reforms and macroeconomic stability have played a vital role in Somalia’s journey toward debt relief, expected to be complete by December this year, clearing the loans contracted during the pre-civil war era.

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