— British Prime Minister David Cameron and Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud began a conference on the reconstruction of Somalia Monday, seeking international support for the country as it emerges from two decades of civil war. Back in Mogadishu, residents are rebuilding their city, amid lingering insecurity.
At the port in Mogadishu, a constant stream of ships arrives carrying the cargo to rebuild Somalia.
Ismail Abukar Hussein, a 32-year-old truck driver, said, "A year ago, we could make one delivery a month. Now we can make between three to five deliveries. Business is booming because of the peace."
The roads in Mogadishu have been cleared of roadblocks set up by the militant group al-Shabab for nearly two years, allowing Hussein to freely deliver food and construction materials around the city.
Port Manager Abdullahi Alle Noor estimates the port sees 20 percent more ships today than this time last year. He said, “We have new activity. There is a container terminal and we have started exporting livestock. It shows that Mogadishu is ready to be a fully functioning seaport.”
The port is one example of how gains in security have enabled an economic revival in this war-torn country.
It is an image of progress the Somali delegation will show off in London, hoping to harness international aid and recognition of Somalia as a viable state ready for investment.
In the run-up to the conference, British Foreign Secretary William Hague traveled to Mogadishu to meet with President Mohamud and to reopen the British embassy.
The Somali president, regarded as the country's most legitimate leader since the state collapsed in 1991, is co-hosting the London conference, attended by representatives from more than 50 nations.
“This number of attendants and participants indicates the real commitment and the real willingness from international partners," he said. "This is absolutely an opportunity, but it is also a challenge to Somalia - how we respond to the good intention, that good gesture.”
The agenda includes the new government’s vision for reforming judicial, financial and security issues.
In Mogadishu, British Foreign Secretary Hague cautioned that Somalia still has a long way to go.
“Great progress has been made, but the problems Somalia is grappling with haven't been fully solved," he said. "The work is not complete. It is the work of many years and it requires a sustained effort from leaders in Somalia, of course, but also its partners in the region and across the world.”
British-trained African Union troops have pushed al-Shabab out of the capital city and large swathes of southern Somalia. But the group still makes its presence known. Just two days before the conference, a suicide car bomb targeting a Qatari delegation killed 11 people and wounded several others.