After decades of economic and political instability, Somalia's central bank governor says he wants the country to mint its first currency since the 1980's. As Grace Pascoe reports he hopes it will help rebuild an economy emerging from tears of chaos at the hands of Islamist and clan militias.
Somalia's central bank chief has had a potted career history. He was once jailed by a dictator AND he hides a loaded pistol in his desk drawer just in case Islamist militants call. Bashir Issa Ali now thinks a newly minted currency may answer some of Somalia's problems. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SOMALI CENTRAL BANK GOVERNOR, BASHIR ISSA ALI SAYING: "All these bank notes are fake. They are old, they are torn out, they are dirty. We don't have the resources needed to print the real money that we need. So we are in contact and in discussion with the international community." No new bank notes have been printed for 30 years. And Ali thinks they're key to rebuilding an economy ravaged by decades of chaos. Change is visible with new hotels and restaurants sprouting from the rubble. But the government is struggling to build a financial system and pull the country's 12 million people out of poverty. Muscab Oman is from the International Bank of Somalia (SOUNDBITE) (English) IBS HEAD OF MARKETING, MUSCAB OMAR ILMI, SAYING: "Our currency is not recognized by any other country in the world. Our currency is lost the credibility of it. People are having issues and difficulties using that kind of currency even right now if you want to purchase anything it is very rare to use our currency any more." The 1,000 shilling banknote is the only Somali bill in use. It's worth so little that money changers in Mogadishu use wheelbarrows to move them. Most city residents don't even bother any more, using the U.S. dollar instead