Bid to create a unified Somali diaspora gathers pace 

0
127

By: Abdirahman Yusuf

Global Somali Diaspora is final touching diaspora conference, first of its own, in Mogadishu on August, 2016 to promote investment for the Horn of Africa country, but also use it as a platform to positively rebrand Somalia as the last frontier of investment in the Horn/Eastern Africa region.

Global Somali Diaspora (GSD) was formed in Turkey June, 2014 by a group of young professionals, academicians, community leaders and businessmen from 20 countries, which have community Somali diaspora. The main objective of this organization is to mobilise Somali diaspora for positive actions,to promote investment in the country and create jobs in the rebuilding the nation.

The individuals drawn from various parts of the world including Europe (Africa, Australia) and America are meeting next month in Mogadishu to share experience and inspire other potential investors to consider channeling investments in Somalia.

Global Somali Diaspora (GSD) Executive Director Abdi Barud said the three days meeting will be the first big gathering bringing together hundreds of Somalis in the diaspora to share experiences and forge investment formulas set to shower the nation with foreign investments.

“You know we have more than two million Somalia people in the diaspora with most of them having fled the conflicts, hunger and famine economic despair. We are seeking a global platform to bring together all these people with their vast experiences to help rebuild Somalia. They have better education, more exposure and in most cases better economically and those are among the things we want to tap into,” Mr. Barud said.

Since its inception in 2014, GSD, has been holding various meetings in locations including USA and the major bases for Somalis in diaspora.

The meetings are aimed at cultivating the need for unity among the citizens of the Horn of Africa country and forge robust investment frameworks that will create impacts back home and help raise the standards of living for those at home.

“We want to mobilise Somali diaspora for positive actions, because they have diverse skills that this county needs to rebuild, ranging from education and medicine,” Mr. Barud told The Somalia Investor Magazine, in an exclusive interview.

 In the next month conference, those in the diaspora who have already been engaged in various forms of investments share their experiences and create benchmarks for others who would want to take similar initiatives.

They also share their change of perception about the country they have been connected to by history but many have never been there since they were born having been brought up in Europe, America, Africa or elsewhere.

“You know we have more than two million Somalia people in the diaspora with most of them having fled the conflicts, hunger and famine economic despair. We are seeking a global platform to bring together all these people with their vast experiences to help rebuild Somalia. They have better education, more exposure and in most cases better economically and those are among the things we want to tap into,” Mr. Barud said.

About 250 people are expected to attend the event daily since the event was timed with the summer when most people fly home for holidays.

The organisers believe the move will chart a new path that will promote investment in Somalia as the countries strives to regain its economic balance following two decades of political instability.

The Global Somali Diaspora aspires to create the missing links between local and diaspora Somalis- the two groups of the Somali people geographically and socially divided following decades of separations.

The two groups are said to be experiencing some tension with most locals still believing that those who flew in the diaspora are only coming back when things have settled.

“Our main aim is to ensure that the various communities stay united based on the experiences they have gathered from outside the countries. They are also more exposed and resilient to any intercommunity divisions hence we need them to be the champions of a new united Somalia,” the GSD Executive Director said.

The Diaspora members are also expected to be the ambassadors to paint the good and positive side of Somalia when they travel back and help transform the perception from what is largely known. The country is associated with hunger, famine and conflict overshadowing the investment potential, beautiful sceneries and great hospitality.

Doctors, and teachers are expected to be drawn from the group to reshape the country’s two crucial sectors.

A more unified Somali in the diaspora will also help champion for the rights of those abroad and address their concerns according to the organisers.

After the conference, the work is expected to continue in mobilizing Diaspora for a better tomorrow and a better Somalia. The social media helps to tie with one another and after more interactions, there are plans to create joint ventures for bigger scale of start-ups.

The millions of Somalis in the Diaspora send home at least 1.4 billion US dollar every year to support their families in basic necessities like food education and health care.

They are said to have close to 40 per cent of the country’s economy in control and will remain an influential constituency.

A diaspora remittance survey commissioned by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and carried out in 33 countries also revealed that those in the diaspora sent an average of US$422.90 per month to family and friends in the Somali regions.

The research shows that nearly 60 per cent of respondents reported being active investors with 33 per cent having recently invested in the Somali regions. Active investors responded from 12 countries across Africa, Europe, and North America, the highest concentration of which (78 per cent) came from only four main areas: the Somali regions, the UK, Canada, and the US (in descending order).

The World Bank estimates that US$1.4 billion flowed into Somalia from the worldwide diaspora in 2014, equal to 24 per cent of the country’s GDP. In addition to remittances, which are largely spent on monthly household expenses, diaspora funds contribute significantly to private sector investment.

If successful, this will be one of the largest gatherings of Somalis with the aim to promote investments back home at a time when most African countries are struggling to attract investments.