Conference should focus on positives, argue Somali business leaders

 

The build up to the London conference on Somalia has focused on what doesn't work in the Horn of Africa nation - the coastguard, the central government, the security services - but the answer to the country's crisis lies in examining what does work, argue Somali business leaders.

Piracy, famine, kidnappings and a multi-sided battle against Islamic militants the Shabab dominate headlines in a country routinely referred to as the world's most-failed state. But there are regions of Somalia that are enjoying comparative stability and strong economic growth, argues Abdirashid Duale, the CEO of the region's leading money transfer company Dahabshil. Studying what's working in the relatively peaceful regions of the country may hold the key to solving the crisis in the southern and central regions which have been worst hit by war and famine.

"Many outsiders are not seeing the full picture," said Mr Duale. "It is true that politically, certain regions of Somalia have failed, but there are significant regions – particularly Somaliland, Puntland and Galmudug – that have benefited from diaspora investment and are relatively stable."

Much of the focus at the London talks will be international efforts to solve the Somali crisis but the biggest investor in the country - at $2bn annually -- is the Somali diaspora itself, he points out.

"The conference addresses issues that are highly political, but if the Somali region is to be rehabilitated, then its business community – domestic and international – must be central to any agreed plan," said Mr Duale.

For two decades international engagement with Somalia has been dominated by the alternating approaches of military occupation or containment. Despite the disastrous effects of various military interventions, particularly the Ethiopian invasion in 2007, the first approach has remained popular with policy makers. While up until the Horn of Africa famine spurred a major international response the policy of containing Somalia's problems within its borders was the preferred policy option in a region heavily impacted by the US war on terror.

There has been very little focus on taking what hasn't failed in Somalia which typically revolves around the national obsession of trade, in sectors like livestock, and newer fields like telecoms and money transfer.

When the success of Dahabshiil and other money transfer systems has been discussed it has often been talked about in terms of blocking alleged funding of extremist groups like Shabab with its self-avowed links to al Qa'ida. In December US banks in Minnesota, which is home to America's largest Somali community shut down remittance services following the conviction of two ethnic Somali women for raising funds for the Shabab.

"Blocking remittances to Somalia from the diaspora in the US is very damaging to those who depend on that source of income to survive," said Duale. "Following the recent case in Minnesota, I would urge the international community not to follow suit."

He points out that annual remittances represent the largest capital inflow to the Somali region, "far greater than the funding it receives in international aid."

There is widespread frustration in the Somali business community that the remittance system is being targeted while aid to Somalia's dysfunctional central government is being increased despite its atrocious track record which includes embezzling funds meant to pay its soldiers who have then sold their weapons to the Shabab.

The London gathering backed by the British foreign office is expected to strengthen support to Somalia's transtional federal government (TFG) despite its history of squabbling and theft of foreign aid. There are calls for any new funding to focus on the education system and boosting economic efforts that could offer alternatives for young Somalis otherwise vulnerable for recruitment by radicals or pirates.

"Many of Somalia’s key business sectors are already thriving, while civil servants and government officials are often poorly paid and unaccountable, so the political process needs to catch up," said the Dahabshiil boss.

The strongest message from business and community leaders has been the need for a solution led by Somalis themselves to their country's enduring crisis.

"While the support of the international community is crucial, solutions to Somalia’s problems must be Somali-led," said Mr Duale. "The functioning administrations in certain regions show they are more than capable. The international community should recognise what Somalia has achieved and how it has achieved it."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Sport
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Voices
voices
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries are at risk of tinnitus
News
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself with remarkable success
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower