Tuesday May 9, 2017
London (Hiranweyn) – An informal side-event in the run of to the London Conference on Somalia aimed at spurring economic development in Somalia offered their solutions to the government of Somalia.
Himilo Training, Ashley Community Housing and Global Somali Diaspora (GSD) held the mini-conference on Monday at the Royal Society of Arts in Central London.
In a joint-statement released before the event, organizers said “this event intends to inform the Somali Government and other policy makers of the innovative approaches employed by organisations in Somalia and from the diaspora to upskill and create jobs for Somali youth to harness economic development”.
The speakers, Fuad Mohamed CEO Ashley Community Housing and Himilo Training, Zahra Shira, Executive Director GSD; Deeq Mohamed ‘Africa’, Executive Director Fursad Fund; Jawaahir Daahir, founder and CEO of Somali Development Services, Sado Jirde, Director of Black South West Network (BSWN); and Abdullahi Osman, Hormuz Telecom, all have considerable combined experience in job creation and entrepreneurship both in Somalia and among the Somali diaspora. Together they purposed a multi-faceted approach to strengthening the Somali economy.
According to the GSD, the Somali Diaspora is estimated to be between 2-3 million stretched out over all corners of the earth and contribute between $1.3 – 2 billion dollars annually back into Somalia through investments and remittances, far beyond any form of aid given to Somalia by international partners. They are involved in many sectors including education, health, technology.
Zahra Shira, the Executive Director of GSD spoke about the major role the diaspora play in investment, she also stated the GSD plays a key role in sustainable development by transferring the wealth of resources, knowledge, and ideas back into Somalia. She also highlighted working closely cooperation between diaspora and local groups “for the common good”. She believes this approach can be reapplied on a large scale by the government to utilize the human capital and put the economy on the fast-track to recovery.
“Part of the GSD mission to emphasize collaboration between local workforce and diaspora for the better development of the country. We must all do a better job of raising awareness and explaining the importance of collaboration between all Somalis and the impacts it can have not only in nation building and reconciliation but the long-term efforts on sustainable development, both economic and cultural.”
Fuad Mohamed is the CEO of both Ashley Community Housing (ACH) and Himilo Training, his organization, ACH, resettles refugees by providing job training and essential life skills to assist in their transition. As a former refugee, Mr. Mohamed understands firsthand the struggles a refugee faces in establishing themselves in a new country.
He’s asking the government to give the Somali youth – who make up 70% of the population – a chance to meet the demands f the labour market. He argued that traditional method of attending university is not the most conducive method as it releases graduates that aren’t finding permanent employment. Mr. Mohamed suggests meeting the demands of the Somali labour market head on by training Somali youth to complete the necessary tasks at hand, and a vast majority of those needs aren’t satisfied by a university degree.
It’s estimated that as much as 10% of Somalia’s population are Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs), and another 10% are refugee’s in Somalia’s neighbouring countries, namely Kenya and Ethiopia. With as much as a fifth of the total population displaced in some form, a major task how to resettle these people back into Somalia and take advantage of the human capital.
Somali’s in refugee camps are barred from participating in the labour market and cannot legally hold jobs in their host country. As a result, Mr. Mohamed says many have developed unique entrepreneurial skills and are very active in their communities.
“In order for Somalia to turn this into a net positive, the IDPs and returning refugees must be supported with training, education, and job skills.”
Somali’s investing in Somalia
As the Executive Director of Fursad Fund, Deeq Mohamed “Afrika” is already at the forefront of many economic development schemes. Fursad Fund is involved in many programs including education, vocational training, but it’s best known for its micro-financing scheme. According to the group’s website, they plan to create 50,000 opportunities in the next 5 years.
The project relies on the generosity of the Somali people and business, it prioritizes young people and women to become potential entrepreneurs. He suggests that the Somali government focus on getting Somali’s to invest in Somali businesses.
Former Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Abdi Aynte was on hand to provide his insight as a former government minister.
A follow-up conference is scheduled for later this year in Mogadishu in Somalia.