The first Somaliland Diaspora Investment Consultative meeting was held in Hargeisa on the 25th of March 2018 at the Crown Hotel.
The meeting which was organized by the Somaliland Diaspora Agency (SLDA) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International investment was attended by members of the Diaspora, stakeholders and representatives from various government ministries and other dignitaries..
Dr. Sacad Ali Shire, Minister of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation , in his opening speech , highlighted the importance and vital role of Somaliland’s Diaspora in the country’s economy, underscoring that since the current export of livestock, the country is largely dependent on the remittances sent by the Diaspora and its role in the economy country. He further stressed the need for the country to promote investment, and the need to address challenges whenever they arise; he further answered a lot of questions asked by the members of the Diaspora. The Minister of Foreign Affairs strongly encouraged the vibrant and collaborative efforts of the Diaspora, and expressed concerns that the government is not in control of the investors and advised that there is a need for a policy that is good for the government. .
Mr. Abdi Abdullahi Hersi, the chairman of Somaliland Diaspora Agency speaking at the conference said that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the first part of the survey conducted by the recently formed Cities in the area of collection, organize and integrate investment information for the Diaspora so as assess and identify challenges, and work to encourage investment into the country of the Republic of Somaliland Diaspora. He said that after we conducted the Pilot survey and after considering a request submitted to us by businessmen from the Diaspora to hold the meeting so that they can present the grievances and challenges facing investors, they invited the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Investment, Finance, Finance, General Operations, Chamber of Commerce, The Chairman of the Supreme Court, the Immigration Department, the Mayor and other government departments to answer the questions at hand.
Although some of the officials invited to the meeting failed to attend due to excusable reasons for some of them, Diaspora entrepreneurs based on the occasion raised a range of issues including questions regarding the barriers and challenges facing investing Diaspora investment in country which were answered by Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Investments, Trade, and the Chairman of Chamber of Commerce.
Questions asked by the Diaspora investors were mostly related to the system of tax collection in the country which treats Diaspora as same as big businesses not to mention the foreign investment law only supports foreign investment, and businesses, unlike the Diaspora do not have the support of the government and other incentives to invest in their investments and other factors. Different participants of the Diaspora entrepreneurs complained of limited skills of the country and suggested Somaliland Government to have clear policy on improving technical skills of the people. Other entrepreneurs complained of that they could not export their products of oil through the Airport.
Hon Mohamed Ahmed Awad, Minister of international investment while answering questions from the Diaspora investors said, “The government is in the process of reviewing and amending the foreign investment act, which will pave way for not only attracting foreign investments, but also to encourage more investments from Somaliland Diaspora such as giving tax breaks whenever they invest in the country by setting up industries and other substantial investments exempt when they’re importing cars which they will have to pay their taxes.
Hon Mohamed Saad lIdle(Sajiin), Minister of Commerce, industry and tourism while addressing the participants said,” We are committed to support and encourage members of the Diaspora, but having said,I will like to make one thing clear that we cannot make tax break time. My advice to you in the Diaspora should merge and form a combination of partnerships so as to invest in big ventures which benefit the country.
Mr. Mohamed Shukri , Chairman of the Somaliland Chamber of Commerce briefed the Diaspora investors of the untapped investment opportunities that exist and the same time to be cautious before making investing in a bid to avert incurring losses, and instead opt for business that will be profitable in the long run. “Diaspora entrepreneur’s expectation is very high when they come home to embark on business, but goes down when they start, particularly without making any related further feasibility study and consultations for their business plans,” he said.
As Somaliland Diaspora Agency invited participants included different key tour operators and airlines operating in Somaliland such as Ethiopian Airlines, and Air Arabia. Executive Director of Somaliland Diaspora Agency stated they are calling for the main airlines to support the Agency’s Diaspora-oriented programs, and particularly thanked Ethiopian Airlines who realized such cooperation. Mr. Estinafous Weikema, Area Manager of the Ethiopian Airlines in Somaliland who also delivered a key note speech pointed out history of the Ethiopian Airlines operation and services in Somaliland being the first and the main operator that started international flights in Somaliland. Mr. Weikema emphasized that they would collaborate with SLDA on provision of recommended services to the Diaspora on all possible capacities.
Somaliland Diaspora Agency invited representatives from airlines which operate in the country such as FlyDubai and Ethiopian Airlines.
Based on the Pilot Survey Conducted, below questions included the Somaliland Diaspora Investors Questions, and Concerns
- Does Somaliland have progressive tax system? If yes, why all investors/businesses are taxed at same rate in Somaliland?
- Somaliland Diaspora entrepreneurs feel that there is no progressive tax system, and that the government doesn’t have tax system that is straight and fair. All business owners are taxed at same rates
- What are the Government tax exemptions for Diaspora investors, and are there other incentives to Diaspora investment?
- Diaspora entrepreneurship and making businesses has been on increase since recent years
- Return of Diaspora households from abroad moving with their possessions is increasing year after year
- There is no government plan for providing residential, commercial, and industrial land incentives for the Diaspora in general
- What is the difference between foreign investor and Somaliland national Diaspora investor accordance to Somaliland Foreign Investment Law?
- Somaliland foreign investment law guarantees incentives to foreign investors but not Somalilander investors from the Diaspora.
- Does Somaliland Government have plan to set up physical policy and banking systems that can encourage Diaspora investment?
- Diaspora concerns include existing banks don’t offer overdrafts and there are several issues from an Islamic point about interest/Riba.
- What are the Government laws in relation to hiring foreign labour?
- Somaliland Diaspora investors feel that local/national staff is unskillful in certain professions which is challenge to their investments, and that sometimes hires employees from abroad.
- Local competitors poaching trained staff from abroad, which leads to devastating effects on their businesses and there are no consequences for the perpetrators.
- What are the Government limitations towards duplicating business ideas and property rights protections?
- Somaliland Diaspora has also concerns over the following in Somaliland?
- Lack of Tourism polices
- Lack of contract enforcement
- Overdue court cases, while Diaspora nationals have limited time to stay home
- Favoritism of Local business people
- Lack of preventive and protective measures in relation to Diaspora and Diaspora-born children of Somaliland nationals
The invited Diaspora entrepreneurs and some other participant businesses included: Masala Specialist Hospital, Masala Specialist Hospital, International Medical services, Young Muslim Academy, Xarago Company, Casri fashion, Asma Style, Royal Style, Weris Accessories, Café Barbera, Galool Café, Holland Diary food company, Saryan Museum, Hargeisa Cultural Center, Crown Hotel, Cafra Supermarket, Sugan Billicsan, Gacalle group Business, BM Cosmetics, Sahra’s Botique, Simple Divine, Kings Coffee, Haboon, Amiir Perfumes, Sumaya World, Altawba Perfumes, Horn Garden, Guleed Hotel, Habeen Dhalad, Alpha Beauty, North Star Medical Center, Quruxbila, Hubaal Cleaning service, Star Box, Himilo Restaurant, Nasrulah, Epyan Shoes, Good Super Style, Oderese, Sovocco, Adams Inn Hotel, Carayaabo ARH, Al-Ashira centre, AJ Poultry Farm, Boodhari Mills, UBI, Nabad Consulting, Bella Rossa, HYJ Consulting, The Review, Odorose Eng, Asad construction, Mandar Food Factory, Caroyabo Agriculture, Nuriye Napkins Factory, Eagle Fishing, Al xariiri Multi Service, Community Consultancy Development, Toosi Travel, Amalina Clinic, Som Fishing Coup, FB2 Berbera, IPX + AIGIC, SLN-TV, Cookies Time, Quantum-CES, Hawdolmo, Fishery Association, Royal Consultants Ltd, STC, North Rock, Chicago Huge, Seegaal Trade Co., Supreme Court, Biryani Restaurant, Sanka Group, European Colleague, Daus Company, Somaliland Vegetable Oil Comp, Arayaanbo Fadagi, Smart Jobs Co, DAS ACC, KHEYRAAD DEV. Association, United Pricic IndustryOderese, Sovocco, Adams Inn Hotel, Carayaabo ARH, Al-Ashira centre, AJ Poultry Farm, Boodhari Mills, UBI, Nabad Consulting, Bella Rossa, HYJ Consulting, The Review, Odorose Eng, Asad construction, Mandar Food Factory, Caroyabo Agriculture, Nuriye Napkins Factory, Eagle Fishing, Al xariiri Multi Service, Community Consultancy Development, Toosi Travel, Amalina Clinic, Som Fishing Coup, FB2 Berbera, IPX + AIGIC, SLN-TV, Cookies Time, Quantum-CES, Hawdolmo, Fishery Association, Royal Consultants Ltd, STC, North Rock, Chicago Huge, Seegaal Trade Co., Supreme Court, Biryani Restaurant, Sanka Group, European Colleague, Daus Company, Somaliland Vegetable Oil Comp, Arayaanbo Fadagi, Smart Jobs Co, DAS ACC, KHEYRAAD DEV. Association, United Pricic Industry
Somaliland Diaspora Agency