The President of the self-proclaimed Republic of Somaliland, Ahmed Mohamed Mahmoud Silanyo, is currently leading a high powered delegation to the United Kingdom capital London for a business forum; aimed at promoting trade and investment opportunities in the African country.
The conference, co-hosted by the two countries, rallies businesses to make the most of Somaliland’s rich agricultural and investment opportunities to create a thriving economy and reduce its dependency on aid.
Attendees at the summit agreed that whilst the aid relationship will remain important, it will be business and investment that will prove increasingly important in creating jobs, sustainable growth and prosperity in Somaliland.
â€œIn Somaliland, where 63 per cent of men and 80 per cent of women between 25 and 34 years of age are unemployed, this need is particularly pressingâ€�, the UK Foreign Office Minister, James Duddridge, told the conference; which opened on Tuesday.
London said the British government is keen to build partnerships across Africa, and Somaliland is no exception. â€œWe want to help harness the power, the optimism and the drive of the people of Somaliland.
â€œWe want to build on that and create a business environment which attracts inward investment, and which encourages the brightest talent in Somaliland to stay, and those who have left to returnâ€�, says the UK Minister for Department for International Development (DfIDà , Lynne Featherstone.
The forum underlined business as central to Somaliland’s growth and development. It is already happening â€“ Hargeisa teems with people starting new businesses and shops. It is only through investment, trade and jobs that Somaliland can reduce its dependence on aid and remittances.
â€œPeople want the opportunity to work their own way out of poverty. People want the dignity that comes with a job and being able to provide for their own family. And the people of Somaliland, with all their entrepreneurial potential, are no exceptionâ€�, officials said.
London says the UK Government remains committed to help build a more economically stable and prosperous future for Somaliland. UK aid supports areas such as health, education and strengthening public financial management and governance, and importantly is helping to rebuild crucial infrastructure and create jobs.
â€œBut much of Somaliland’s potential remains untappedâ€�, even as the rich agriculture and livestock sectors could produce goods with much higher added value.
The UK and Somaliland have a close and long standing relationship. The UK opened an office in Hargeisa in 2012 and recent months have seen several high level visits in both directions, including by the previous Minister for Africa, Mark Simmonds, who visited in April this year.
DFID’s programme in Somaliland has grown significantly over the last 4 years (from £40m to £105m). DfID is one of the main bilateral partners for Somaliland and is supporting a wide range of programmes including health, education, and the flagship Somaliland Development Fund, which is rebuilding much-needed infrastructure such as roads and water supply, London revealed.