News | Somalia Initiative

Somali Diaspora conference opens in Kigali

13 Jan 2015

Joint deliberations on the roles played by the diaspora in the development and policy-making of their home-countries.

The second Somali Diaspora community conference opened in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda yesterday. The conference was jointly organised by AMISOM in conjunction with the African Centre for the constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) and the federal government of Somalia. The conference named “Diaspora Policy Consultation” focused on the affairs of Diaspora community, their role in the development and reconstruction and the Somalia government’s Diaspora policy which aims to attract them back to work, live and invest in Somalia. The purpose of the meting, according to the organisers, was to explore ways in which the Diaspora can be mobilised and harnessed for the purpose of national reconciliation and development. Kigali was specifically chosen as a venue because of Rwanda’s civil war and the enormous role its own Diaspora played and continues to play in rebuilding it.

The key speakers at the conference were academics, practitioners and senior Somali government officials who all focused on the importance of the Diaspora as a development driver in Somalia.

Ambassador Welile Nhlapo of the African Centre for the constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) recognised the value of the Somali Diaspora and people in general and thanked them for their active support for the South Africans against the Apartheid regime.

The Somali Minister for Foreign Affairs and Investment Promotion Abdirahman Dualeh Beileh, who pre-recorded a message, spoke of his own experiences as a Diaspora and how vital they are to Somalia’s future. He spoke of his Ministries favourable policies towards returning Diaspora members in key areas such as investment and he urged the Diaspora to return with their skills, experience and wealth and invest in Somalia just like he and many others have.

“If anything has kept Somalia and its people going during the period of turmoil it was its Diaspora,” said Minister Beileh.

The Chief of Staff of the Somali President’s office Ali Omar made clear the Somali government’s commitment to returning Diaspora. He spoke of those already employed and investing in Somalia and he urged all Diaspora members to contribute positively in any way to rebuilding their home nation. He further spoke of his own journey from the US to his current post in Somalia.

“I am one of you as I was Diaspora before joining the President’s team so were many of the Somali parliamentarians and the civil society members” he said. “Bring your ideas, talents and let’s rebuild like Rwanda.”

The African Union’s Special Representative for Somalia and head of AMISOM Ambassador Maman Sidoku reiterated the importance of the Diaspora and how they can further involve themselves in the development and progress of Somalia.

“Somalia needs you more than ever before as the country is going through political and social transformation,” said Ambassador Sidoku to the Diaspora delegates at the conference. However, he stressed the importance of continuity in government operations and within the civil service by advising against the continuous changes in staff whenever there is a Ministerial reshuffle which affects many including experts from the Diaspora.

Parfait Gahamanyi, The Director General of Multilateral Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Rwanda also addressed the delegates at the conference and spoke of Rwanda’s experiences and strategies for utilising its citizens across the world. He spoke of successful government campaigns initiated and implemented in partnership with the Diaspora such as the dollar campaign. He also stated that the Rwandan Diaspora are ambassadors to their adopted nations for Rwanda and their positive contributions reflect strongly on their home nation.

Abdulkadir Kamtiirey, the Director of the office of Diaspora Affairs at the Somali Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Investment Promotion who jointly organised this meeting with AMISOM counterparts made clear that the investment the Diaspora make in Somalia are crucial for peace and stability.

The conference has brought together around 100 Somali Diaspora members and it is scheduled to continue for five days.

This article from:

  • Somalia
  • Rwanda
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