News and Views
Somali Diaspora return, rebuilding homeland
For over two decades, war raged on in Somalia. Its countrymen and women fled and scattered to different parts of the world, where they struggled and established their lives. Today, Somalia enjoys peace, life has slowly returned to normalcy, with improved security facilitated by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) working together with the Somali National Security Forces.
This peace has seen many Somalis return home and participate in the reconstruction of their country. A quick look at the town reveals a booming construction sector and lots of mushrooming businesses.
Naema Adam has set up a brick laying business and is one of the many Somalis tracing their steps back home.
She lived in London for 24 years, having initially gone to pursue her studies in college. The start of the civil war meant she had to stay back in England, from where she completed her university education, got married and had three children. She says her choice of the brick laying business was informed by the visit to Somalia last year, during which she realized the shortage in quality building materials, deciding to move in and fill the gap.
“It was a wild idea for a mother to do this, but I thought it was worthwhile in the end. I had spoken to lots of locals and engineers and I had done some research. I then realized a bricklayer is really needed. Mogadishu is rebuilding, so I decided not to lose the opportunity,” says Naema
She has undoubtedly encountered many challenges, including the high cost of importing machinery. “Another way the government could help is to at least give USA discount on the tax at the port, to make it easier to import machinery and not products and let the people produce the products within the country,” she appeals.
Like Naema, Abdulqadir Abdul, lived in England. He left his country home in Somalia in 1991 and lived in Bristol with his family.
He also came back home just last year to visit family and friends. The visit, initially intended to be a short one extended to two months, during which he discovered a lot of opportunities and decided it was time he returned home. He now runs a barbershop in Mogadishu.
Abdulqadir, washing face one of his customers in his barbershop in Mogadishu.
“The difference between Bristol and Mogadishu is huge, both form a social and economic perspective. Currently, breaking into the Mogadishu market is far more challenging due to the effects of prolonged war. However Bristol also had some challenges, the extremely long work hours made it difficult for me to spend time with my family and friends; whereas Somalia is home, and I feel like the struggles and sacrifices, which are faced are far more worthwhile,” he says.
The Somali Federal Government is encouraging Somalis across the world to return home and be part of this reconstruction process. H.E Fawzia Yusuf H. Adam is the Somali Foreign Affairs Minister and says there could never be a better time to return home, than now.
“Am urging the diaspora to come back, as Somalia is currently booming with opportunities. There is now a chance to work without paying tax. Factories and the industrial sector being offered land, hospitality business on the rise. It’s cheaper and more lucrative than ever. There are the benefits that can be gained before restrictions get put in place,” she says.
First deployed in March 2007, the AMISOM force has helped flush out the al Shabaab insurgents, whose reign of terror forced many Somalis to flee their homeland. Together with the Somali National Defense Forces and with support from the United Nations, AMISOM continues to engage al Shabaab in the few areas it still occupies, while supporting Somali security institutions to develop capacity and be able to maintain the peace enjoyed today. The force together with her Somali counterparts also continue to work towards consolidating the peace gains to ensure a safer country for the Somali people, one to which many scattered across the world can return to, live and work without the dreadful fear of insecurity.