The 5th Somaliland Annual Diaspora Conference 2021
Theme: “Mobilizing Somaliland Diaspora for the National Development Agenda”
Date: August 22nd to August 23rd, 2021
Venue: Mansoor Hotel, Hargeisa Somaliland
Conference Language: Somali and English
The Republic of Somaliland has a large Diaspora population roughly estimated at over 1 million people, mainly spread across Western Europe, North America, the Middle East, North & East Africa, and Australia as well.
Marked by three important causes, the history of Somaliland’s migration movement started in the mid-nineteenth century when Somalilanders began to migrate to nearby Yemen, the Arab Gulf Countries, East Africa, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain, mainly for economic purposes, and through the existed trade relations as well. The first emigrant Somalilanders settled in the UK in the 1880s whose descendants are still residents in the UK Port Cities such as London, Cardiff, and Liverpool.
The second wave of Somaliland emigrants was among the labor force attracted by the Gulf Oil Boom in the 1970s-80s, plus those who were fleeing from the political oppression and the attempts of ethnic cleansing by which the communist regime in Somalia was doing against the Somalilanders and the subsequent civil war which compelled the third-largest emigration wave of Somalilanders to foreign countries, especially to the EU countries.
Historically, and over the decades, Somalilanders in the Diaspora always maintained strong links with home. To the present time have an active role other than making remittances and continued useful involvements both in the private sector and supported Somaliland’s post-conflict reconstruction. They have vital contributions to the economic improvements and the political transformations of the country. They had a meaningful role in the regaining of Somaliland’s sovereignty, peacebuilding, reinstating processes, the political transition, and constitutional development by engaging, supporting, advocating for good governance, the political stability, and development of our democratic institutions.
Although, due to the absence of official data and statistics, the exact amount of remittances by the Diaspora cannot be determined, yet according to the Somaliland Central Statistics Department (2020), it is estimated that USD 800 million worth of remittances is received annually from the Diaspora which is equivalent to 58% of Somaliland’s 2020 GDP estimate. Such remittance though may not be sustained for future generations, yet currently constitutes the main source of finance particularly contributing to household income 31% in urban areas, and 23% by rural households. According to reports published by Somaliland’s Ministry of Finance, Diaspora remittance is also key to finance for many Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, and as such plays an important role in the overall investment, and the national development of Somaliland.
Over the years, members from the Somaliland Diaspora from different countries invested in a variety of small and medium businesses brought business innovations and created local employment opportunities. They have significantly invested in the real estate and the construction sector – both residential and commercial, light manufacturing factories, hospitality services, catering, tourism, accommodations, education, private health, and more especially in the service sector to a great extent. They have a considerable role in the current improvement of telecommunication technology, public and regional transportations as well. At the same time, despite it is fragmented and constrained by the absence of a regulatory framework, there are Diaspora Groups who support philanthropic projects towards community development, and social welfare. Mainly on community-based initiatives, there are Diaspora Activists or Diaspora-led Charities in different countries abroad who at times contribute to provision or maintenance of social services, health facilities, boarding schools, incentives to teachers for the most part in certain rural areas, whereas others occasionally provide donated medical supplies to hospitals. A good example is the Somalilander-American-Health-Association (SAHA) which is based in the US and the Somaliland inter-health network which is based in the UK, and the World Remit founder, Ismail Ahmed, all contributed medical donations during the COVID-19 crisis, last year.
The continued peace reliability and the political stability have a crucial influence on Somaliland’s emigrants abroad in terms of returning home or getting interested to make investment home. The evident increase of entrepreneurship and at the same time the Diaspora homecoming visits rising after each election and peaceful transfer of power is both evidence of this fact. For instance, the most important, costly, or classy Diaspora-invested businesses not only in Hargeisa but in all the big cities opened after the Presidential Election 2017, and in the same way, the Diaspora members and families arriving through Egal International Airport during Summer Months have been on increase since after the Parliamentary and local council Election of this year.
In addition to that, there has since years been a significant increase of the Diaspora members including professionals, experts, Diaspora-born youth, and families permanently returning from abroad and moving to Somaliland, some of them opening their businesses, some of them working for Public Institutions, Private Entities, some working as health practitioners, teachers, consultants, etc.
Also, there is a growing awareness among the Diaspora especially the young people who are interested to volunteer, share skills or undertake internships at Public Institutions.
According to a survey carried out by the Somaliland Diaspora Office under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation in the year 2020, on 200 Diaspora-invested businesses in Hargeisa, it was identified that the Somaliland Diaspora business investment increased 57% from 2017 to 2020. And such identified increase was over 90% only in the year 2020 whilst the employment these businesses created was increasing 10% every year within this period. The survey also discovered those entrepreneurs who invested in the businesses were mostly from the UK, Canada, and the USA. Since recent years, Diaspora contribution to social services such as education and societal has besides increased.
Taking into consideration the vital role of the Diaspora, and the need for deeper engagement with the Diaspora, the Government of Somaliland established the Diaspora Office as a major department under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation with the mandate to engage with the Diaspora in the areas of policymaking, research, coordination, investment, knowledge transfers, mobilization, awareness, and social integration, and in the Diaspora Diplomacy.
Under the Economic Sector, Somaliland National Development Plan (2017-2021) encourages further development of the Diaspora’s role as indicated by the Outcome “By 2021, increase Diaspora role in both the domestic market investment to 10% and their contribution to the public investment” and corresponding to the adopted SDG8 “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.” Key interventions to be implemented within this period include Establishing Diaspora Trust Fund, creating a sound and friendly business environment for the Diaspora investment interventions, and Creating programs for bringing Diaspora expertise and young generations back to home.
There have been continuing consultative processes under the leadership of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation since last year and per the recommendations provided towards enabling environment to address identified challenges in deepening engagement with Diaspora communities, for example; improving service delivery, creating incentives for diaspora investment, provision of information and creating a conducive environment for opportunities, and pathways for the Diaspora human talent transfer to contribute to the development of Somaliland.
The Somaliland multiparty system has been made to replace the traditional clan-based arrangements since the Referendum was made for the Somaliland Constitution. Since then, seven popular, free, and fair elections were held – for local councils, the presidency, and the legislative council; all in which Somaliland Diaspora have had key roles. However, every election campaign unexpectedly seems to affect and hamper the Diaspora unity, cooperation, and their collective efforts for the common interests.
The Annual Diaspora Conference as a key component of the yearly held homecoming conventions; is regarded as best practice and essential opportunity for the Somaliland Diaspora, private sector stakeholders, and the Government to discuss and dialogue on vital issues affecting Somalilanders in the Diaspora within the origin country as well as challenges they are coping with abroad, maximizing their contributions and participation in the national development agenda.
The Somaliland 5th Annual Diaspora Homecoming conference
The Somaliland 5th Annual Diaspora Conference focuses to complement and improve the national Diaspora engagement plan and the policy-making process, broad-based consultation towards key Diaspora-oriented projects aligned with the Somaliland national development plan, and beyond. Under the Theme “Mobilizing Somaliland Diaspora for the National Development Agenda” the Conference is exceptionally designed to offer unique and the first of its kind opportunity to the Somaliland Diaspora according to the center of the conference, selected themes in the agenda, the number and the types of the participants invited. The Conference will be held in Hargeisa from 22 to 23 of August 2021, at Mansoor Hotel, Hargeisa Somaliland.
The Somaliland 5th Annual Diaspora Homecoming Conference 2021 is planned to bring together about 100 delegates in a structured format mainly from the Somaliland Diaspora stakeholders including members with professional backgrounds, intellectuals, educationalists, researchers, entrepreneurs, investors, or members and groups with successful business backgrounds, important local companies or prominent local business community members, catalysts, business support organizations, national and international development partners, influential and well-known persons, cultural icons, Policymakers or Government officials from key Ministries or different Public Institutions/MDAs, and also foreign delegations representing varied hosting countries of the Somaliland Diaspora and coming with the influence of Somaliland Diaspora including the friends of Somaliland.
This is to provide a premier platform for the participants to discuss, and dialogue on selected themes and critical issues affecting Diaspora’s greater engagement in the national development, the Diaspora organization, and cohesion among them abroad, collective involvements, combined efforts, and in general the Diaspora’s contributions to the private investment in the existing opportunities, financing public priorities, or in the main the country’s National Development Processes. The Conference will decisively examine Somaliland’s Diaspora contributions to the homeland development, weaknesses, and strengths, challenges, and opportunities, understanding effective approaches to addressing identified challenges and the ways to properly integrate Diaspora engagement in the National Development of Somaliland with a view to consequential investment flow, remittances, human talent, and knowledge transfer, international cooperation and lobby and advocacy for the cause of Somaliland.
The 5th Annual Conference is intended to produce a concrete outcome in the appropriate and required engagement policies and strategies at national, regional, and local levels, and at the same time to give out an inspiring message to the global Somaliland Diaspora to consolidate their talent and role for the benefit of their better-quality role in the participation of Somaliland economic, social, and political development goals as indicated in the National Development Plan, and Somaliland Vision 2030.
Goals and Objectives of the 5th Annual Diaspora Conference:
The Somaliland 5th Annual Diaspora Conference is intended to produce a concrete outcome in the appropriate and required engagement policies and strategies at national, regional, and local levels, and at the same time to give out an inspiring message to the global Somaliland Diaspora to consolidate their talent and role for the benefit of their better-quality role in the participation of Somaliland economic, social, and political development goals as indicated in the National Development Plan, and Somaliland Vision 2030.
The Conference aims to provide comprehensive dialogue on strengthening and consolidating the Diaspora role and integrating into the National Development Agenda through complementing appropriate engagement framework.
Not limited but specific objectives of the conference include the following: –
- Identify and discuss major challenges affecting Diaspora unity, consolidating their human talent, other capital resources, and combined contributions to the homeland development, and explore applicable ways to addressing challenges and concerns;
- Complement national Diaspora engagement plans and policy development,
- Harmonize and support setting up guiding principles for the effective engagement of the Diaspora in the national development agenda;
- Discuss to improve coordination on Diaspora engagement at national, regional, and local levels;
- Encourage Diaspora investment flow in the private sector, and identify opportunities and impeding challenges;
- Encourage Diaspora contribution to the public financing of community development projects, institutional and infrastructural building in their country, and identify opportunities and challenges in the coordination processes;
- Enable networking of the Diaspora business community, activists, lobbyists, or advocates, sharing pertinent information, exchange of experiences, best practices, and success stories;
- Launch the first Somaliland Diaspora Business Forum;
- Recognize and acknowledge Diaspora achievements in the areas of investment in the private sector, creating employment, and opportunities, activism, innovation, and skill transfers.
- Review the past engagement of the Diaspora in the lobby for recognition – analyze strengthens, and weaknesses, challenges & opportunities, and make recommendations for better approaches and roadmap for improvement;
- Discuss the role of the Diaspora in strengthening peace stability, and resolving inter-clan conflicts in Somaliland;
- Encourage healthy activism and avoid downbeats and misdeeds in the Diaspora;
- Make petition on Marking National Diaspora Day for Somaliland to the President;
Thematic Areas of the Conference:
The Year’s selected Main Theme of the Conference is “Mobilizing Somaliland Diaspora for the National Development Agenda” and accordingly the Conference will focus on the following thematic areas under which all papers, presentations, discussions, speeches, and the other activities on agenda will be considered during the Conference: –
- Diaspora Unity;
- Diaspora Investment Flow and impeding Challenges;
- Investment Environment and Business Opportunities for the Diaspora;
- Diaspora Role in the Community Development;
- Diaspora Knowledge Transfer and Volunteer Development;
- Coordination on Diaspora Engagement at Varied Levels;
- Diaspora Role in Peace Stability, and Influence on Inter-Clan Conflicts;
- Early initiatives on Engaging 2nd, 3rd, and Younger Diaspora Generations;
- Diaspora-oriented Programs and Outreach Mobilization;
- Establishment of Somaliland Diaspora Business Forum;
- Regulatory Framework and Roadmap on Diaspora Engagement;
- Leveraging Diaspora Resources for National Development;
- Diaspora Remittances and Respective Regulations;
- Diaspora Participation in the NDP and the Required Mechanisms for Evaluation.
- Marking National Diaspora Day;
- Review on the Diaspora performance in the Recognition Seeking Campaign.
Expected Outcomes of the Conference:
Not limited to but expected outcomes from this Conference will include the following: –
- The 5th Somaliland Annual Diaspora Conference kicks off in 2021 as high level, the first of its kind and well-organized homecoming Conference;
- Bringing together key stakeholders, Diaspora groups from various countries, Government Institutions and Officials, Diaspora and local business community, investors, entrepreneurs, experts from the Diaspora and locals, locally-represented International Companies/investors, academia, civil society organizations, etc., for the first time discuss key topical issues on the Diaspora engagement matters, investment opportunities, and joint participation in national development processes;
- A unique opportunity and forum provided for the Diaspora to consult and discuss critical issues, identifying major challenges, opportunities, improving coordination towards engaging with the Somaliland Diaspora, and working together for the benefit of Somaliland;
- An opportunity offered to the Diaspora in awareness and exploring investment opportunities, investment making processes, incentives, and better capitalizing of their expertise for communal benefit purposes;
- An opportunity offered to the Diaspora to have to say, feel ownership and inclusion to contribute to the planning, development, and implementation of relevant policy and strategic framework on engaging with the Somaliland Diaspora;
- More interactions, networking, sharing information, and exchange of experiences and good stories provided for the Diaspora groups, and with other stakeholders;
- An opportunity for key local business community groups to showcase and make exposure or publicity of their businesses, products, services, innovations, and new projects they are marketing in Somaliland;
- Key awareness message provided for the Somalilanders in the Diaspora to improve cooperation and useful links with their origin country, Republic of Somaliland;
- More useful inputs and positive recommendations for the development of National Diaspora Policy & Strategic Plan, and implementation of important Diaspora-oriented Projects;
- A petition signed on proposed Marking of Somaliland Diaspora Day to the President of the Republic of Somaliland;
- Agreement with the Diaspora Groups on a specifically defined set of commitments, and related communique issued at the end of the Conference;
- Papers, keynote speeches, and presentations provided and useful for reference and reviews for related engagement policy and strategy development;
- Conference Report issued with recommendations, action points, and way forward;
Modality and Format of the Conference:
The Somaliland 5th Annual Diaspora Homecoming Conference will be held two days from Sunday, August 22nd to Tuesday, August 23nd with the program starting from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM before the Prayer Time each day. This Conference will combine a variety of activities including Keynote speeches, thrilling presentations, panel discussions, plenary sessions, workshops, Question and Answer sessions, Group work discussions, break-out sessions, themed exhibitions. Based on the set program, there will be different ways the Conference will offer increased opportunities for interactions and networking among participating delegates, groups, and organizations in order to satisfactorily meet the expectations of the participants and their interests in being part of the endeavor.
More structured than previous annual homecoming events, this Conference will encourage participation and active role of varied business corporations, service, and product providers, investors, and entrepreneurs both those from the Diaspora and some of the local key business community – some varied SMEs including those trading in national production related sectors such as agriculture, fishery, livestock, Frankincense, Manufacturing and Production Factories, Camel Milk Association, etc. and the major corporations such as Telecommunication Companies, Financial Service Companies, and Banks, there will as well be encouraged partaking of representatives from some of the Internationally-represented companies in Somaliland such as BS Coca-Cola, Hyundai, and Samsung Galaxy, etc. also, DP World, and alike International Companies operating or represented in Somaliland will be encouraged to attend and exhibit during this Conference as well.
The Conference will also encourage the attendance of active Local NGOs, Umbrellas, INGOs operating in Somaliland, and other stakeholders of the Civil Society. It will be a wonderful opportunity they can exhibit and showcase their products and services, and so that will bring display booths, sample products, varied related publications, presentations, etc.
In addition to that, varied Ministries and other Government Institutions will present and exhibit more practical information relating to their mandatory roles, policies, reports, and key varied publications. This category will include Ministry of Planning & National Development, Trade, Industry & Tourism, Ministry of Finance Development, Minerals & Energy, Ministry of Fishery & Livestock, Ministry of Agriculture Development, Ministry of Environment & Rural Development, Ministry of Transport & Roads Development, Chamber of Commerce, Industry & Agriculture, Somaliland Ports Authority Agency, Somaliland Frankincense Agency, Central Bank of Somaliland and their MDAs.
The Somaliland 5th Annual Diaspora Homecoming Conference is planned to host not less than 250 participants who will be selected and invited under set criteria, or terms and conditions for eligibility.
All those participants from the private sector other than the Diaspora, the local business community members, corporations, and companies including the locally-represented foreign companies, and the civil society stakeholders and who have an interest in exhibiting their products or services during the conference will be formally asked for to contribute financial support associated with their participation in the conference. Under this category, Standard Sponsorship Packages will be made for the different groups to sponsor the conference and to exhibit well.
Conference Agenda and Program Schedule
|Day 1: August 22nd, 2021.|
|1.||Registration of Participants||8:30am – 09:30am|
|2.||Opening Prayer and National Anthem||10:00am – 10:10am|
|3.||Welcome Remarks & Introduction of Participants||10:10am – 10:30am|
|4.||Key Note Speech:
MOFA & diaspora engagement, Objectives and the importance this conference
|10:30am – 11:00am
|5.|| Short Speech:
The mandate of the Diaspora Office, the achievements, the progress, and the challenges
The role of the Diaspora Host countries in engaging the diaspora as development actors
|7.||SL President speech,
The National Development, and the role of the Diasporas
|12:00pm – 12:30pm|
|9.||Panel Discussion 1: Developing a National Diaspora Policy
National Diaspora Policy framework: Thematic and priority areas of diaspora policymaking
Panelists will explore the need for developing a national diaspora policy. They will also draw the policy recommendations for the key priority areas that need a guiding policy.
|02:00 – 03:00|
|10.||Questions and Answers Session:
The panel would answer questions related to policy priorities and issues.
|03:00 – 03:30|
|11.||Visiting the Exhibition||03:30 – 04:00|
|End of Day one|
|Day 2: August 23rd, 2021.|
|1.||Registration of Participants for Day 2.||8:30 – 9:00 am|
|2.||Day 2 opening and welcoming the delegates|
|3.||Keynote Speech 2:
Recap of Day 1 – and the launching of the Somaliland diaspora business forum
|9:00 – 09:30 am|
Members of the audience can come to the stage and share their opinions, challenges, and policy recommendations
|09:30 – 10:30 am|
|5.||Visiting the exhibition||10:30 – 11:00 am|
Diaspora Investment and Entrepreneurship in Somaliland
The paper will discuss the nature and magnitude of diaspora investment and entrepreneurship in Somaliland, the success stories and failures, and the recommendations to improve diaspora business creation in Somaliland.
11:00 – 11:30 am
|7.||Panel Discussion 2: The role of the Diaspora Business Forum on Somaliland’s Economy
The Challenges and Opportunities of Diaspora business forum and the diaspora investment in general
Panelists will explore the challenges and the opportunities facing the Somaliland business forum and the required policy recommendations for its success. They will also analyze the general policy parameters and strategic options for attracting and capitalizing on the full potential of the diaspora investment in Somaliland.
11:30 – 12: 30 am
|9.||Panel Discussion 3: The role of the Diaspora Skills Transfer on the National Development
The challenges and opportunities of Diaspora Skills and Knowledge transfer
Panelists will explore the policy parameters and strategy options for developing the diaspora skills and knowledge transfer and tapping them into the national development agenda
|02:00 -02:30 pm|
|10.||Panel Discussion 4: The role of the Diaspora in Promoting Somaliland’s Recognition
The Role of the Diasporas as diplomats and lobbyists for the case of Somaliland’s recognition
The Panelists will explore the role of the diaspora in playing the role of becoming ambassadors, advocates, and lobbyists for Somaliland in the host countries. Panelists will also draw the policy recommendation on strengthening and improving this role.
|02:30 – 03:00|
|11.||Panel Discussion 5: Diaspora Remittances and the Future
The role of Diaspora remittances in national development, the challenges and opportunities facing the 2nd and 3rd generations of the Somaliland diaspora abroad, and the strategic options for engaging them.
The panelists will explore issues of identity and culture that are affecting the follow of remittance by the younger generations in the diaspora, especially the 2nd and 3rd generations, and what the diaspora community associations and the diaspora office can do to address these issues.
|03:00 – 03:30|
|12.||Panel Discussion 6: Diaspora and Philanthropy
Recognizing the role of the diaspora in philanthropic assistance to Somaliland and how to improve that role.
The panelists will explore the challenges and opportunities of diaspora philanthropy and humanitarian fundraising and the lessons learned from the role of the diaspora in the Covid19 health assistance and fundraising.
|03:30 – 04:00|
|1.||End of day two|