SL Diaspora Contribution

Somaliland Diaspora Contribution to Homeland Development: The Republic of Somaliland has a large Diaspora population roughly estimated over 600,000 mainly living in the Western Europe, North America, Africa, Middle East and other parts in Asia as well

 Somaliland Diaspora Contribution to Homeland Development:

 The Republic of Somaliland has a large Diaspora population roughly estimated over 600,000   mainly living in the Western Europe, North America, Africa, Middle East and other parts in Asia as well as Australia.  They have long played tangible roles in the nation building since after Somaliland regained its independence from Somalia in May 1991 for which even their bravery inputs are unforgettable and momentous during the years of  the bloody struggle in 1980s against the collapsed Regime of Siyad Barre, and they have long been noted as quite significant to the Somaliland’s economic, political, social and cultural developments.

 Somalilanders in the Diaspora have contributed to Somaliland political transition by advocating for the good governance and strengthening of the countries democracy. Members of the community based in various regions of the world including UK, Scandinavian Countries, USA, Canada and elsewhere in Europe have engaged the Somaliland political leadership on pertinent political issues.

According to reports on remittances from the Diaspora the average household receipt of remittances per annum in Somaliland was about US$4,170 and its share of household income was 64 per cent (Ahmed, 2000), and the total value of the annual remittances was estimated about US$500 million, which would be about four times the value of livestock exports from Somaliland in a normal year. Henceforth, it is clear that Somaliland Diaspora communities contribute significantly to the national development and that there is room for such aid to be directed towards goals of poverty eradication across the Continent. There is a need to ensure that conversations on Diaspora involvement in development continue to occur.  

 The Somaliland Diaspora supported the peacebuilding process, and reinstating of Somaliland government in the early years after 1991. They have had immensely and to a great extent  contributed to the reconstruction of the ruined privately owned properties in the major cities and towns in every region of the country, they have provided private sector investment, creation of employment opportunities – in , telecommunications, hotels, financial services, small and medium factories, a variety of public-needed essential services including hospitals, universities etc, which have positive impact on the national economic growth, improving the labor industry, as well as beneficial for the government revenue increase. The Somaliland Diaspora brought visible innovations to the private sector.  The Diaspora also had and still have remarkable contribution to the formation of the political parties and the democratization process in Somaliland (Link here SL Diaspora History). 

Somaliland Diaspora have not only become resourceful for the support of interests of their country of origin but also entered for the development of the host countries, integrated well and proved active players in the most foreign countries they live. History of Somaliland Diaspora:  

 The context of Somaliland Diaspora is similar to those of the other countries in the African continent and other world. To date Somalilanders continue to migrate in search of better economic opportunities, resulting to major brain drain.  Indeed the Government of Somaliland recognizes the role of Diaspora as they have been the force driving through inward formal remittances, which made easy the process of peace and stability in Somaliland and from reconciliation, reintegration, rehabilitation, reinstitution of the state of Somaliland, the process of state building and democratization in Somaliland. In the present time, there is no accurate data on the status of Somaliland’s migration movement at the present.

 World Bank studies reveal that Somaliland Diaspora annually makes money remittance of about $500 million and other reports show that most percentage of   estimated one billion dollars remitted to Somaliland and Somalia mostly goes to Somaliland.

The bravery role of Somaliland Diaspora women has been appreciated according to their contribution to home more than men do particularly in the remittances. A survey made in 1998 on 165 remnants in Hargeisa showed 65% of them were women from the Diaspora.

The remarkable achievements have had in the economic, the private sector development and the infrastructural building in some cases are noteworthy whilst their contribution and engagement in the political arena has been on increase within the last decade.

 In Short the Somaliland Diaspora contribution can be divided as following:

Economic themes:

  • Flow of remittances to family and friends as social safety purpose and business startups
  • Commercial and business investments in the private sector, investing services and small scale industrial production initiatives – Small and Medium Enterprises and businesses of varying sizes, product and services;
  • Public infrastructural building such as roads, social services, airports, seaports etc.
  • Transferring innovative business ideologies and modern service models
  • Small scale Investment in the potential natural resources including fishery, minerals, animal fattening, gums and resins, energy and recycling schemes
  • Facilitated export opportunities 

Social themes: 

  • Transferring innovative business ideologies and modern service models
  • Contribution to rebuilding and maintenance of social services, health centers, schools, boarding schools, incentive to the teachers, other professionals in public service delivery and increasing opportunities of the higher education\
  • Transferring qualified professionals in a variety of   skills, health/medical professions and contribution to the community health services in urban areas as well as to   high standard education and advancement of the higher education
  • Transferring expertise, knowledge, ethics, accountability, transparency, standards and other norms
  • Contribution to the social welfare, mobilizing humanitarian assistance and emergence of droughts
  • Improvement in the telecommunication technology, transportation etc
  • Public policy formulations and developing tools
  • Voluntary workforce

Political themes:

  • Involvement in the political transformation of Somaliland
  • Supporting reestablishment, peace-building, reinstating, and constitutional development
  • Democratization process and formulation of political parties
  • Contribution to the recognition of Somaliland
  • Public awareness and pivot role in the political stability 

Remarkable Increase of Somaliland Diaspora Contribution in the Public Sector 2010-2016:

Since after the 2nd democratic presidential election of Somaliland in 2010, there has been greater contribution of the Diaspora in many foreign countries which has constituted active participation of the Diaspora in the National Development Plan of Somaliland (2012-2016). They contributed to the infrastructural building projects particularly roads in different regions, building boarding schools, airports, ports and orphanage centers. On the other hand, there increased both individual and cooperative Diaspora groups investing in a variety of businesses – production projects and services including hotels, consultancy firms, schools, colleges, transportation firms etc. Within this period, contribution of the Diaspora to the droughts and emergency support for the drought affected people and other vulnerable segments of the society were greater than ever before.

SLDA was trying to survey the Diaspora contribution particularly that for the public infrastructural building projects and other kind donations for the welfare improvement and accordingly came to know that nearly ten million dollars have been raised by Diaspora groups mostly based in UK for different projects including roads, construction of boarding school in rural areas, medical supplies etc the regions of  Marodijeh, Awdal, Sahil and Togdheer.

UK hosts the largest Somaliland community in Europe and North America and/or half of the Somaliland Diaspora abroad while estimated 150,000 populations. Despite of their contribution to the other sectors, this community enhanced their campaign towards lobbying the UK government and particularly those communities in Sheffield, Cardiff and South Hamlets in London respectively brought the success of the recognition of Somaliland by the local councils of those places. There are other communities in UK, Sweden and elsewhere in Europe who are now pushing the same motions.

On the other hand, there are lot undeniable challenges affecting the contribution and the greater engagement of the Diaspora in the homeland development which include the absence of international recognition, the limited political presence of Somaliland or embassies that would serve the Somaliland nationals abroad.

 Somaliland Diaspora Role in the Recognition Seeking Campaign

Somaliland Diaspora has since the regaining of Somaliland Independence 18 May 1991 had active role in the lobby and advocacy of Somaliland Recognition Case in the host countries they are resident particularly more in Europe, North America and Australia. It has been through the efforts and sacrifice of the industrious and capable volunteers of Somaliland Diaspora that has drawn the attention of many people, councilors, MPs, authors, journalists, political parties, government institutions, diplomats, humanitarian charity organizations, donors and more other from the international community who joined the friends of Somaliland and added their voice to the appeal of Somaliland for international recognition. The recognitions of Somaliland by Sheffield and Cardiff Municipal Councils in 2014 and 2015 respectively have been remarkable noteworthy achievements of Somaliland Diaspora in UK.

In recognition of this, Somaliland government has encouraged more integration of the Diaspora in the public diplomacy as in line with the Foreign Policy & Public Diplomacy Strategies under the leadership of Somaliland Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation. This aims to facilitate all lobbying efforts and campaigns, rallies, conferences and petitions by the Diaspora in contribution to the Somaliland’s case or quest of international recognition and host governments’ awareness upon Somaliland.

 As part of this, Somaliland government established Somaliland Diaspora Recognition Committees In various key host countries. Functions of these committees are laid in the Constitution of the Diaspora Recognition Committee drafted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation.

Main objectives of the Diaspora Recognition Committees include:- 

  • Educating the host country public about Somaliland
  • Promoting Somaliland and its image
  • Lobbying politicians in councils, parliament, government and political parties in the host country
  • Lobbying opinion makers and influential people in academia, media, business and civil societies
  • Making appeals and petitions
  • Organizing demonstrations
  • Networking with similar organizations
  • Working with Somaliland grass root groups and organizations
  • Working closely with Somaliland mission in the host country
  • Raising funds and receiving contributions where appropriate to finance the work
  • Making by-laws and rules as might be required
  • Taking any action that is lawful, which would help to fulfill the aims of Somaliland

Diaspora Recognition Committees:

Somaliland Government established the 1st Diaspora Recognition Committee selected on basis of the selection criteria of the related charter in January 2016 and so far Somaliland has Diaspora Recognition Committees in the most Western Europe countries including UK, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. It is underway activity led by SLDA and MOFA&C to continue formation of similar committees in North America, Middle East and Africa within 2016.

Since formed, some of the established committees in different countries acted well or ensured significant achievements in collaboration with the Somaliland Liaison Offices/Ambassadors where available, Somaliland friends as well as the established Somaliland communities associations.

These new committees’ need more capacity enhancement in relation to their roles but it is also expected that the National Recognition Seeking Roadmap which is draft in the hands of the National Recognition Committee of Somaliland will boost more and promote work of the newly formed Diaspora Recognition Committees abroad.