India-Somalia Relations

Somalia is located on the Horn of Africa, bordered by Djibouti to the northwest, Ethiopia to the west and Kenya to the southeast. It has the longest coastline in Africa. Somalia’s 10 million population is largely homogenous with respect to religion and language.

After the outbreak of civil war in 1991, a multinational United Task Force (UNITAF) was deployed ahead of the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM) till 1994 followed by the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers in 1995. Indian peacekeepers served with distinction in both UNITAF and UNOSOM.

Indian traders have been trading with the Horn of Africa since ancient times. In 1940s-50s many Indians were recruited by Italians to work on their plantations in Somalia, mainly around Qoryoley. Other Indians established businesses in Somalia. It is estimated that there were nearly 200 Indian families in Somalia, mainly engaged in cloth dying in Mogadishu and Merka. Indian families in Kismayo left for Mogadishu in the early 1980s. After 1991 most Indians left Somalia, many relocating to Mombasa in Kenya.

Political Relations

A year after the independence of Somalia in 1960, the Commissioner of India to Mauritius was accredited as Ambassador of India to Somalia and presented Credentials in 1961.

Prime Minister of Somalia H.E. Dr. Abdirashid Ali Shermarke accompanied by Minister of Information visited India in 1963. H. E. Dr. Shermarke visited India again in 1968 as President of Somalia. Somalia’s Foreign Minister H. E. Dr. Abdurahman Jama Barre visited India in 1979. This was followed by the visits of Somalia’s Minister of Commerce & Industry in 1986 and of a Special Envoy of the President of Somalia in 1989.

After the outbreak of civil war in 1991, the Indian Embassy in Mogadishu was closed. Hon’ble Minister of State for External Affairs Shri Eduardo Faleiro visited Somalia in 1992. Somalia maintains an Embassy in India. The High Commissioner of India to Kenya is concurrently accredited to Somalia.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Planning and International Cooperation H.E. Dr. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali visited India in March 2011 to attend the 7th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India Africa Project Partnership. During the visit he met Hon’ble Minister of External Affairs Shri S. M. Krishna and Hon’ble Commerce & Industry Minister Shri Anand Sharma.

Hon’ble Minister of State for External Affairs Shri E Ahamed led the Indian delegation at the London Conference on Somalia on February 23 2012. He met the TFG President H. E. Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, President of Puntland H.E. Abdirahman Mohamed Mohamud Farole and President of Galmudug H. E. Mohamed Ahmed Alin on the sidelines of the Conference.  

The TFG Minister for Education, Culture and Higher Studies Prof. Ahmed Aidid Ibrahim visited India to participate in the India-Africa Science & Technology Ministerial Conference and Tech Expo held in New Delhi on March 1-2 2012. During the visit he met Hon’ble Minister for Human Resource Development Shri Kapil Sibal on March 9 2012.

The President of state of Puntland H.E. Abdirahman Mohamed Farole visited India on May 15-16 2012. He met Hon’ble Minister of State for External Affairs Shri E. Ahamed and Hon’ble Minister of State for Petroleum & Natural Gas Shri R. P. N. Singh.

High Commissioner led the Indian delegation at the Istanbul II Conference on Somalia held on May 31-June 2 2012.
Hon’ble Minister of State for External Affairs Smt. Preneet Kaur addressed the debate on Somalia held at the UN Security Council on October 16 2012. She congratulated the new Somali leadership noting that President Mohamud had studied in India during 1980s.

Minister of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Environment Abdirahman Ibrahim visited India to attend the High Level Segment of the 11th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity held in Hyderabad in October 2012. The Minister of Trade of the Federal Republic of Somalia Mohamud Ahmed Hassan visited India during January 2013 to attend the Vibrant Gujarat business summit.

High Commissioner led the Indian delegation at the Somalia Conference held in London on 7 May 2013.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud led the Somali delegation for the 3rd India Africa Forum Summit held in New Delhi from 26-29 October, 2015.  During the visit he was conferred an Honorary Doctorate degree by the Barkatullah University.  Earlier in July 2015, Special Envoy of Prime Minister and MOS for External Affairs Gen. V.K. Singh visited Mogadishu and handed over PM’s invitation letter to Somali President to attend the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit.   

Development Cooperation

India offers Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) training scholarships and Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) scholarships to Somalia. During 2014-15, 10 ITEC and 16 ICCR slots were offered to Somalia.

Somalia is among the partner countries of Pan African e-Network project. The project was inaugurated by Hon’ble Minister for External Affairs Shri S. M. Krishna on August 16 2010 along with the Vice Minister of Education of State of Puntland.

Somalis travel to India for studies and medical attention. Small numbers of Indians work in various Regions of Somalia.

Trade Links
During 2014-15, India-Somalia trade was US$ 391.05 million showing more than 51% increase over the figure of US$ 257.27 million during 2013-14.

Somalia qualifies for India’s offer of unilateral duty free tariff preferential market access for export of goods and services to India. The scheme, introduced in 2008, offers duty free access to exports from LDCs on 84% of India’s tariff lines and preferential access for another 9%.

India-Somalia Trade
(US$ million)


Indian Exports

Indian Imports

Total Trade













Source : Department of Commerce, India

Indian Participation in UN Peacekeeping in Somalia
4,600 Indian peacekeepers, led by Brigadier M. P. Bhagat, participated in UNOSOM II during 1993-94.  The contingent was headquartered in Baidoa. It included armour and helicopters. The troops also engaged in reconstruction and humanitarian work. They distributed medicines and seeds worth Rs. 10 lakh which were provided by the Indian government. 12 Indian soldiers laid down their lives during the deployment. The Indian Navy played a major part in the Indian contribution to the UN task force in Somalia.  

India was the Chair of the UNSC’s Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committee during as a non-permanent member of the Council (2011-12).

Following Hon’ble Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s announcement at the 2nd Africa India Forum Summit held in Addis Ababa in May 2011, India provided US$ 2 million to the African Union Mission for Somalia (AMISOM). India announced a further contribution of US$ 1 million to AMISOM in March 2012.

The Indian Navy has been involved in anti-piracy patrolling in the Gulf of Aden since 2008. India is a member of the UN Contact Group on Piracy off the coast of Somalia.

Useful Resources
Website of High Commission of India, Nairobi: https://hcinairobi.co.ke
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/India-in-Kenya-High-Commission-of-India-Nairobi/894496970596247
Twitter: https://twitter.com/IndiainKenya
February 2016

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