Somalia Labor Market

Agriculture employs at least six out of ten Somalis. Most important is livestock management. Only a small part of the population are resident farmers. A large proportion of Somalis are employed in the informal sector of the economy. Few Somalis have a formal employment.

According to official figures, unemployment is low, but statistics for Somalia have major shortcomings. According to the ILO, unemployment was estimated to be around 47 percent in 2014-2015, but it pointed out that it is even higher for young Somalis. Other sources speak of even higher unemployment rates in Mogadishu. Many who work are underemployed.

Few women have a formal employment. Those who work are found in the informal sector where wages are low.

According to al-Shabaab, it is contrary to Islam that women participate in economic activity.

The right to organize trade unions is enshrined in the temporary constitution of 2012. However, there are no strong trade union organizations and the government and employers often lack respect for trade union rights.

Officially, there is a 48-hour work week, and workers are entitled to 15 vacation days and nine vacations. There are also laws that guarantee safety in the workplace, but no authorities can guarantee compliance.

  • COUNTRYAAH: List of key population facts of Somalia, covering most basic population data, religion statistics, and language profiles.

Somalia Population

Slavery, human trafficking and forced labor are prohibited by the Constitution, Child labor is common. According to Unicef’s calculations, almost half of all children worked during the period 2009 to 2015. They were mainly employed in agriculture, in the home or selling cigarettes and the drug khat on the streets, or forced to beg. Forced labor occurs, often it is children or persons belonging to minority groups that are exploited, for example in agriculture, quarrying, the construction sector and for transporting khat.

Children have also been recruited by various armed groups such as al-Shabaab.



14.0 percent (2019)

Youth Unemployment

24.9 percent (2019)



US stops wage support for Somalia’s army

December 15

The US is temporarily suspending its support for salaries to the Somali National Army (SNA). The decision comes as a response to an evaluation that has been critical to poor results and poor control over salary payments. It includes 10,000 soldiers in Mogadishu, Banador, Lower and Middle Shabelle. The aim is likely to pressure the government to tackle corruption in the military. The soldiers previously received $ 100 a month in salary, but the sum was halved in 2016, due to lack of money. Assessors point out that the US strategy is unlikely to succeed, and that by withdrawing the money, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed is already undermining a fragile position. However, President emphasizes that his government should do everything it can to pay salaries and buy equipment for SNA.

Opposition politicians are arrested

December 18

A former minister and candidate in the presidential election, Abdirahman Abdishakur, is arrested by security forces and charged with treason. In connection with the arrest, fighting is reported to have erupted and five of his bodyguards are killed. Abdishakur belongs to the opposition and has sharply criticized the government. He has previously been an advisor to the United Nations Special Envoy in Somalia. Hundreds of people gather in Mogadishu to protest the arrest. Several MEPs also criticize the arrest.

At least 13 dead in attacks against police academy

December 14

At least 18 people are killed and 15 injured in a suicide attack against the Mogadishu Police Academy, where they gathered for a parade. The Islamist group al-Shabaab takes on the blame for the act.


Violence and drought have forced one million people to flee in 2017

November 27th

About 10,000 people flee to Mogadishu away fighting in Middle and Lower Shabelle. Violence, but especially the severe drought, has caused about a million people to leave their homes since the beginning of the year. According to the UN agency Ocha, over 6 million people depended on food aid in early November.

Over 100 dead when US bombs al-Shabaab

November 22

US military launches an attack on one of al-Shabaab camps northwest of Mogadishu. The attack killed more than 100 members of the militant group, according to a spokesman for the US military.

Musa Bihi Abdi wins the election in Somaliland

November 13

Presidential elections are held in Somalialand after being postponed several times. Three candidates are in attendance: Musa Bihi Abdi from the ruling Kulmiy Party, Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi “Irro” from the Waddani Party and Faysal Ali Warabe from Ucid (see also Somaliland). The election is won by Musa Bihi Abdi, who gets 55 percent of the vote, ahead of Irro who receives almost 41 percent of the vote. The turnout is 80 percent. After the election, Irro accuses the Electoral Commission and the Kulmiy Party of irregularities, leading to unrest that requires at least eleven lives.

USA: “40 terrorists killed in drone attacks”

November 12

The United States is carrying out several drone attacks against al-Shabaab and the Islamic State (IS), including in Gaduud, some 40 miles southwest of Mogadishu, and in Puntland reports that it has killed “40 terrorists”.

IS faction in Puntland worries UN observers

November 10

According to a report by the UN group monitoring the sanctions against Somalia, a fraction of the Islamic star (IS) has grown strongly in Puntland and carried out several attacks there, including taking control of the city of Qandala in the Bari region for a few months in 2016. The faction, led by Abdulqader Mumin, has since 2016 grown from a few dozen people to maybe 200 people, and has received money from Syria and Iraq, among others. The report expresses fears that Bari may serve as a sanctuary for IS members forced to flee Syria and Iraq.

The AU is losing peace with a thousand people

November 8

The African Union (AU) announces that it will withdraw 1,000 people from Amisom this year. At the same time, representatives of the AU are calling for increased support from the outside world to enable Somali forces to take over the defense of the country. The AU plans to gradually withdraw all of its strength of over 20,000 people by December 2020.

American drone attack against IS

November 3

The US launches its first drone attack against the Islamic State (IS) in Somalia. The US military says it has “killed several terrorists”. According to the United States, the attack must have taken place in coordination with the Somali government. The week before, a group that claimed to belong to IS had taken up a small port city in Puntland.


New terror attack in Mogadishu

October 29th

At least 27 people lose their lives when terrorists attack a hotel that is popular with government officials in the capital Mogadishu. The attack begins with the blast of two car bombs outside the hotel, which is then stormed by five armed men. Two of the terrorists are killed when the government forces regain control of the hotel. Islamist militia al-Shabaab takes on the blame for the act. Police chief Abdihakin Dahir Saiid and head of national intelligence service Abdillahi Mohamed Sanbaloosh are dismissed following the attacks. Later, all truck traffic is prohibited during daytime in Mogadishu in order to strengthen safety.

Protests against al-Shabaab

October 18

In Mogadishu, thousands of people gather to protest al-Shabaab and what the Islamist group calls “massacres.” President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed speaks to protesters at a football stadium in the city, urging people to join the army to liberate the country and defeat al-Shabaab. Residents of the capital say they have never seen such big protests in Mogadishu. Similar protests are being held in other cities in the country’s southern and central parts. As yet, no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the suspicions are directed at al-Shabaab.

Several hundred dead in terrorist act in Mogadishu

October 14

Over 500 people are killed and many injured in two bombings in the central parts of Mogadishu. Most people are killed when a truck full of explosives explodes. The fact that the explosion is so powerful is also due to the fact that a tanker next to the truck catches fire. Several adjacent buildings are leveled with the ground. At least 160 of the victims are so severely injured that they cannot be identified. The killings are the bloodiest in the country since the Islamist insurgency began in 2007. No group has assumed responsibility for the killing, but the suspicions are directed at al-Shabaab. The truck used in the attack is believed to have come from the Shabelle Valley and must have passed several roadblocks, manned by government soldiers, on their way to Mogadishu. It is speculated that the explosive charges were hidden so well that they were not discovered or if the driver bribed the soldiers to pass. President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed calls for three days of country grief and urges Somalis to unite against the terror. After the act, people gathered on the streets of Mogadishu to protest against the terror and al-Shabaab. Djibouti, Kenya, Qatar, Turkey and the United States assist Somalia in providing medical care to the more than 300 people injured. The United States promises more military support to Somalia if the government asks for it. The week before, Defense Minister Abdirashid Abdullahi Mohamed and the Chief of Defense Forces Mohamed Ahmed Jimale have resigned without any explanation, but analysts speculate that they are dissatisfied that the President has not consulted them adequately on defense matters.

Turkish military base opens in Mogadishu

October 2

Turkey opens a military base in Mogadishu, where among other things, 10,000 soldiers are to be trained for the Somali National Army (SNA) (see also Foreign Policy and Defense).


At least 15 dead in attack on military deployment

September 29th

15 soldiers are killed, according to Somali military, when al-Shabaab attacks a military base in Barite five miles outside Mogadishu. The Islamist militia claims to have killed 21 people.

USA: al-Shabaab members killed in aviation

September 13

US military says six al-Shabaab members have been killed in three airstrikes.

New battles in border town

11 September

Hard fighting is reported to have erupted around a military base near the city of Balad Hawo, near the Kenya border. This happens after al-Shabaab blasted a car off base, in a suicide bombing, and then stormed the facility. According to the military, 10 army soldiers are killed, while the terrorist group claims to have killed 30 people and released about 30 people from prison. Al-Shabaab is also suffering losses. The day before, at least 6 people were killed in a suicide bombing in the town of Beledweyne in central Somalia. al-Shabaab took it on.


Ten civilians are killed in army raids

August 25th

At least 10 civilian villagers, including three children, are killed by the Somali Army (SNA), with support from American soldiers. Initially, SNA claims that all those killed in the village of Bariire in Lower Shabelle, about five miles outside Mogadishu, belonged to al-Shabaab, but later admitted that civilians are among the victims. According to some sources, the victims were farmers from one clan who are in conflict with another clan. Their relatives later protested the shootings and refuse to bury the victims before the government acknowledged that SNA killed civilian Somalis and paid damages to relatives. A few days later comes a statement from the government saying that the 10 were killed by mistake and agreed to pay compensation to the victims’ families.

Drop-off setback for al-Shabaab

August 13th

Mukthar Robow (also known as Abu Mansur), who until 2013 held a leading position in al-Shabaab, surrenders to the authorities. Abu Mansur was Deputy Minister of Defense during the Islamic Court’s rule in Mogadishu in 2006. However, some analysts believe that the departure did not mean a major setback for al-Shabaab, as Abu Mansur had not held a prominent position within the militant Islamist group for several years. His position was completely undermined by the suspicions it aroused when the United States removed him from his list of terror suspects (previously Washington promised a $ 5 million reward to anyone who could arrest Abu Mansur). International human rights organizations want him to be brought to justice for the abuses he has committed, similar demands are also being made by relatives of al-Shabaab’s victims inside Somalia.

At least 19 are killed in factional battles

9th of August

At least 19 militiamen are killed in fighting between two factions of al-Shabaab in the western Bakool region.


Dozens of AU soldiers killed

July 30

At least 23 soldiers from the AU force Amisom and a Somali army soldier are killed when a vehicle column is attacked by al-Shabaab about 14 miles southwest of Mogadishu. At least twelve of the killed AU soldiers are confirmed to be Ugandans. Al-Shabaab claims that a total of 39 soldiers were killed, but that source is not confirmed by any other source.

Internet connection repaired

July 17

After more than three weeks of isolation from the outside world, the central and southern parts of Somalia regain access to the internet. According to government estimates, the breakdown has cost the country almost SEK 90 million a day in lost income, partly because Somalis abroad were unable to send money home.

Internet outages harm Somalia

July 12

Since June 24, southern and central Somalia has no Internet connection with the outside world after the fiber optic cable under the sea has been cut off, probably by a ship anchor. Somali authorities estimate that the disruption will cost the country the equivalent of US $ 10 million per day in lost business. Among other things, it has become difficult to transfer money from Somalis abroad, which make up about a quarter of the country’s GDP.

US bombs al-Shabaab posting

July 5

The United States launches an air strike against an al-Shabaab post about 50 miles southwest of Mogadishu. It is the third American airstrike since June 11. At the same time, al-Shabaab is carrying out a series of minor attacks on the Kenyan side of the border, including a police station being attacked in the city of Pandanguo. From mid-May until now, at least 28 people have been killed.


18 dead in suicide attack against hotel in Mogadishu

June 15

At least 18 people are killed in a suicide attack against a restaurant and hotel in Mogadishu. Posh Hotel is the only place in town where there is a disco. Many of the victims are young. About 20 people are also taken hostage. al-Shabaab assumes responsibility for the act.

Almost 60 dead in attacks in Puntland

June 10th

At least 58 people are killed when al-Shabaab attacks an army base in Af Urur in Puntland. The act takes place after five members of the Islamist militia were sentenced to death for an attempted assault in Bossasso, Puntland’s capital, at the end of April.


13 police officers are killed

May 25

In the course of two days, 13 policemen are killed by three road bombs in northeastern Kenya, near the Somalia border. Al-Shabaab takes on all three attacks.

Party registration office opens in Mogadishu

May 23

The National Electoral Commission opens an office in Mogadishu to register political parties. It is seen as a first step towards holding elections in the country according to the principle “one person, one vote” in 2020.

First suicide bombing of IS in Somalia

May 23

Five people are killed in a suicide attack in the Puntland region. The Islamic State (IS) is taking on the deed, which should have been the first attack of its kind carried out by the extremist movement in Somalia. The group designated for the act is a breaker from al-Shabaab and is led by a man who must have lived in Sweden, among other things.

Security agreement with the outside world

May 11

At an international conference in London, Somalia concludes a security agreement with the countries that are the country’s most important allies and donors. Among other things, the agreement is based on increased foreign aid to train the Somali army. The intention is for Somalia to take ever greater responsibility for its own security, so that the AU force Amisom can be phased out in the long run. At the same time, the food shortage is acute. According to the UN, 1.4 million children will be severely malnourished before the end of the year. So far during the year, more than US $ 600 million has been raised for efforts to combat the drought, but an additional 900 million is considered necessary in order not to further aggravate the situation.


Car bomb kills ten

April 9

At least ten people are killed in a suicide attack in Mogadishu. The deed is carried out by a minibus filled with explosives that runs into a vehicle column where Somalia’s newly-appointed Foreign Minister Ahmed Mohamed Jimale is traveling. The Foreign Minister can manage but three guards and seven civilians are killed. al-Shabaab takes on the deed.


Pirates hijack Indian ship

March 31st

Somali pirates hijack an Indian merchant ship off Yemen. Ten crewmen are taken hostage. Somali security forces manage to take the ship after a few days and free two crew members. The pirates flee with the rest of the crew to the coast. Later these were also saved. The kidnapping is the third outside Somalia since the beginning of the year.

UN support for food

21 March

The UN grants a loan of SEK 195 million to counteract starvation as a result of the severe drought that has hit the country. Radio Magodishu announces that 26 people have now died of starvation in Jubaland in the south.

Five dead in bombing

21 March

Five people are killed when a car bomb explodes in Mogadishu, a few hundred meters from President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s residence. al-Shabaab takes on the blame for the deed, which happens a few days after Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire presented the country’s new government.

More than 40 refugees killed

More than 40 Somali refugees are killed when their boat is subjected to an attack on the Red Sea off Yemen.

Pirates hijack oil vessels

14th of March

Armed Somali pirates take the oil ship, Aris 13, and force it to change course, towards Somalia’s northeast coast. At the same time, the hijackers are demanding a ransom. Cutting is the first in five years. Between 2005 and 2012, Somali pirates carried out a series of hijackings that disrupted international ship traffic, cost the affected countries the equivalent of several billion SEK and caused interventions by the UN, EU and NATO.

Bomb demands life in Mogadishu

the 13th of March

A car bomb explodes in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu. Thirteen people are said to have lost their lives. The Islamist group al-Shabaab takes on the deed.

The UN chief appeals for action for Somalia

March 7

On a visit to Somalia, UN Secretary-General António Guterres appeals to the outside world for a swift and substantial effort to avoid a new famine disaster.

New head of government in place

March 1st

Hassan Ali Khaire becomes Prime Minister. His government will consist of 25 ministers and 43 deputy ministers, which is significantly more than the president has previously promised, much because he has to take into account both the clan’s representation, but also to reward those who supported him in the election. Many of the ministers are young and fairly inexperienced. 15 of the ministers also joined the former government.


Disaster status is announced

February 28

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed announces disaster states across the country because of the drought and appeals to the outside world to come to the rescue. WHO warns that Somalia may be affected by the third famine disaster in 25 years. The famine in 2011 required around 260,000 lives.

Soldiers occupy Parliament in Puntland

February 26th

Dozens of soldiers occupy the Point Parliament to protest that they have not received their wages and poor working conditions. However, they return to their place at the invitation of a respected clan elder.

The President travels to Saudi Arabia

February 23

President Farmaajo makes his first trip abroad to Saudi Arabia. There he will discuss, among other things, how relations between countries can be strengthened, security issues and the impending famine disaster in Somalia. Usually a new Somali president usually makes his first trip abroad to Ethiopia.

Norwegian Somalis are appointed new Prime Minister

February 23

The president appoints Hassan Ali Khaire, head of British oil company Soma Oil & Gas, as new prime minister. Khaire, belongs to the Hawaiian clan and is both Norwegian and Somali citizen. Among other things, he has worked as a primary school teacher in Norway and has been the Africa Head of the Norwegian Refugee Council. Soma Oil & Gas was indicted in 2013 for bribing the Somali Ministry of Oil to obtain the right to search for oil. However, a British investigation into the case was dropped in the absence of evidence.

Many dead in new bombing

February 19

At least 34 people were killed in a bomb attack in Mogadishu. No group is to blame for the act, but the new president accuses al-Shabaab of being behind it. He offers $ 100,000 in rewards to those who provide information that allows the guilty to be arrested.

The United Arab Emirates builds military base in Somaliland

February 13

Somalialand signs an agreement with the United Arab Emirates to allow the Gulf State to build a military base in the port of Berbera. The Horn of Africa is strategically important for the countries around the Persian Gulf, both because of the conflict in Yemen (see Yemen: Current Policy) and the need to secure shipping in the region. The decision was approved by a clear majority in the Somali parliament.

Change of presidential post

February 8

24 candidates will stand in the presidential election on February 8. Most of them are former ministers or people who have lived in exile. Representatives of both chambers of Parliament are taking part in the vote. The election is being held under rigorous surveillance at Mogadishu Airport. In the second round of elections, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed unexpectedly defeats incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. The fact that Ethiopia supports Mohamud is believed to have strengthened Pharmaajo’s position before the vote. A large number of MPs who all counted on would support Mohamud’s vote for Farmaajo, who is already winning in the second round. He gets 184 votes while Mohamud gets 97. Mohamud admits he has lost. Farmaajo immediately takes over the presidential post. (Farmaajo comes from the Italian word for cheese, formaggio. His father must have been very fond of cheese when he was growing up in the then Italian Somaliland). Famaajo belongs to marehan, a subclan to darod, the same clan that the former dictator Siad Barre came from. Early on Election Day, al-Shabaab attacks a hotel in Puntland, killing four people. Two assailants were also killed.


al-Shabaab launches new attack on Kenyan site

January 27

At least 60 Kenyan soldiers are killed when al-Shabaab attacks their site in Kulbiyow. The rebels who carry out the attack get there via Kenyan territory.

At least 28 dead in bombing

January 24th

The Islamist group al-Shabaab commits a terrorist attack against a hotel near the presidential palace. There is no official death toll, but according to ambulance personnel, at least 28 people have been killed and even more have been injured.

Jawari is re-elected as President

January 11

Parliament elects Mohamed Osman Jawari as new President. He belongs to the Rahavein clan (also called digil / mirifle). This means that Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, a former president who belongs to the same clan as Jawari, cannot stand in the presidential election. Jawari is supported by 141 of the 259 members participating in the vote. Most of the members of the Darod, Dir and Hawy clans vote for Jawari, which is largely governed by their hopes of being able to take back any of the posts as president or prime minister. According to tradition, the President, the Prime Minister and the President must come from different clans. The presidential election now looks set to be delayed until the end of January. Reports also indicate that the election has been rigged in many places. In some cases, in practice, there was only one candidate in a constituency, because the opposite candidate did not exist, disappeared or forced to stay away. There are also accusations that candidates bought votes. Many elders, who come from areas controlled by al-Shabaab, must, according to the magazine Africa Confidential, for fear of being stamped as traitors, have expressed regret for their participation in the elections since returning home. The militant group has offered forgiveness to those who have acknowledged it was wrong and who paid $ 300 into it.

Somalia Labor Market