New entrepreneurs build Somaliland
The stability in Somaliland attracts many from the Diaspora in Sweden and other countries to return. They help to build up home again.
Abdirahman Jama Ismail has lärarjobbet on the shelf to invest in telecommunications and remittance services in Hargeisa. Photo: JOHN AUGUSTIN
It’s been 23 years since Somaliland broke away from Somalia and formed an independent state. Because the world has not recognized the northwestern part of Somalia as a country fails many foreign companies with its operations and investments. Despite it’s large enterprise, particularly in the capital, Hargeisa.
Unlike Somalia, where Islamist organization al-Shabab still controls areas in the southern and middle parts, there has been no terrorist attack in Somaliland for the past six years. This means that many who were forced to flee the civil war in Somalia now want to return and help rebuild their country again.
One of them is Abdirahman Jama Ismail. He sought asylum in Sweden in 1991 and spent two decades in Umeå and Stockholm, where he worked as a language teacher. Meanwhile, in Sweden longed Abdirahman Jama Ismail keep coming back to Somaliland, where the roots were. The four-year teacher training that he received free of charge in Mogadishu in the mid 80s, he wants to pay back now.
The country has invested in me, but I have not given anything back.
Abdirahman Jama Ismail
– The country has invested in me, but I have not given anything back, says Ismail.
Lärarjobbet have, however, he put on the shelf and instead focus on telecom and referral services – which is a growing industry in Hargeisa. Ismail working with a mobile payment service in the international remittance company Dahabshiil.
According to the World Bank sends diaspora back up to half a billion dollars each year – money that the economy and the people of Somaliland are dependent on, since unemployment is at 60 percent.
– Each and every family will receive money sent to them, it is very widespread, clarifies Ismail.
The money appears to do good, for everywhere are building new houses, both private and different types of businesses in a city almost completely bombed to the gravel during the civil war in the late 80s. Along the sopkantrade cavernous roadside seated male adjacent pallets loaded with the local currency – Somaliland shilling.
Because it is not internationally recognized and the exchange rate fluctuates (one US dollar is currently worth about 6,000 shillings) uses most residents mobile payment services or dollars when they buy goods and services.
Despite the enormous problems that widespread poverty and unemployment so is Somaliland, according to many observers stable with a functioning government, democracy, free press and free elections. Why then Somaliland ingredients which are otherwise largely lacking in the Horn of Africa?
Ismail explains that somaliländare were contractors historically.
– Since you had a conflict with the Christians in Ethiopia so they had to deal with the Arab world, he says, and explains that the Somaliland government are focusing strongly on security – where 60 percent of the budget goes to the military and policing costs.
While al-Shabaab is a major problem in Somalia is the case differently on the other side of the heavily guarded border.
– It advises people secret service police as soon as they see something suspicious. People remember the war and does not want to be in union with Somalia.
Ismail’s wife and two children left in Sollentuna outside Stockholm, but also the family wants to move back to their homeland soon.
– My wife wants to invest in selling exclusive clothes. As an NK in Hargeisa, said Ismail.
In the capital there is talk Scandinavian all around, a slightly strange feeling out on the Horn of Africa, given that no tourists in sight. Diaspora brings with him not only Swedish, Norwegian and Danish – but also the name Scandinavian Hotel.
Botan Ibrahim, 54, who lived in Umeå 25 years helping his sister, who is currently in Denmark, to operate the hotel. He describes Somaliland as “a small emerging country”. Competition with a greater number of hotels increases since many of Diaspora are increasingly visiting the city. Now wait Ibrahim Botan that foreigners should find Hargeisa.
– Then it will be good business for real!
He drinks coffee at the veranda with his friend Ahmed Awale, 61, who has driven some environmental projects in the three months that have passed since he returned – after living the past 30 years in Stockholm.
With financial support from Sida, he is responsible for a project that aims to recycle plastics – a seemingly huge problem in the capital and around the country where it is plastic garbage openly in droves in the streets because garbage collection system is not working. Ahmed Awale also talk with factories for durable solutions and to school children about the importance of reforestation.
– It is through peace that we can invest and develop our economy, explains Ahmed Awale and clarifying at the same time:
– Without a sustainable environment will no peace to keep in the long run.
Somaliländare said to be an entrepreneur to his fingertips and talk with Zahra Jibril as true the thesis. She fled the age of six with her aunt to London and came back to Hargeisa three years ago. Instead of sending money each month did 28-year-old helping his large family who live a nomadic life – which is more than half of the population still does. Having invested and built a well for the family, it was time for Zahra Jibril to help rebuild the country.
– Somaliland has huge potential but there are also great risks, she says, and mentions that young people constitute 70 percent of the population, and most of them are unemployed.
– We already have problems with human trafficking, and crime increases when there are not enough jobs.
She has worked in various projects, including the police and bringing home knowledgeable doctors from the Diaspora in the Nordic countries.
Jibril is now working as an adviser to governments and companies. Despite developments in Somaliland in the right direction so the government has under her focused too much on education and too little on jobs. She believes that employers should raise wages so that no jobs in areas such as the private sector and aid organizations disappear for Kenyans and other Africans.
Give the right salary for the right person. Only then can we put our own people at work.
Somaliland has about four million inhabitants and a quarter live in Hargeisa. Urbanization from rural to urban areas is rapid.
Economy: In addition to remittances, estimated at half of the country’s GDP, so, exports of livestock such as sheep, goats and camels for one of the country’s main sources of income. Over half the population is dependent on livestock production and about 20 percent live off farming. Major crops are sorghum (grass), maize, fruits and vegetables. The country also produces frankincense, used as incense. Treasures and customs duties from the port of the third largest city of Berbera in the Gulf of Aden provides vital income.
Security Mode: Foreign Office advises against all travel to Somalia (including Somaliland and the autonomous region of Puntland).
In large parts of Somalia, there is still war between militant Islamist groups and the government, but in Somaliland, there have been no terrorist attacks since 2008. Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, the year when Somaliland declared independence from the central government in Mogadishu. State and local authorities provide basic public services such as schools, water and electricity supply. Telecom companies are prevalent, as well as coverage.