By Abdirahman Omar Osman (Eng. Yarisow)
On May 11, Somalia will be marking one of the most important milestones in the history of the country since the efforts to reconstruct the country begun in the year 2000.
The Somalia International Conference will be held in London on 11 May 2017, after the United Kingdom galvanised the international community to bold on the new enthusiasm brought about by the election of the new government and to help maintain the momentum of a “New Somalia”. UK has taken a leading role towards Somalia and is the only western country that has a functioning embassy in Mogadishu, which shows their commitment, determination and genuine desire to help the country.
The conference at the historical Lancaster House will be co-hosted by the UK, the Federal Republic of Somalia and the United Nations as well as friends and partners of Somalia. This time it appears that Somalia and UK are both well prepared so that the conference will produce its intended objectives and outcomes.
It is notable that the UK has been galavanising international efforts to help Somalia since 2011, given that there are over 200,000 ethnic Somalis in the UK that is making valuable contributions to both their new home and back in Somalia. UK realises the importance of Somalis in UK and in the Diaspora, as they are part and parcel of the society and most of them are British Citizens. UK also understands too well that if Somalia is peace and stable will hugely contribute to the stability of UK and the world at large.
Following the election of President Mohammed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo on February 8, 2017, the country’s 3 leaders namely the President, the Prime Minster and the Speaker of the parliament are all from the Diaspora. The cabinet and the parliament have a number of UK citizens such as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister for Justice, Minister of Information. About 29 MPs in the current parliament trace their background to the UK. Nearly 90 out of the 275 MPs hail from the diaspora. Also a number of Diaspora are members of the Upper House (Senators) while others hold senior positions within the Federal Government as well as to regional states of Somalia.
Somalis in UK made valuable contributions to the society that include small businesses such as internet café and the many Somali restaurants and corner shops. Second generations are now completing their university degrees with high marks. UK understands the importance of multicultural society and the positive image that the diversity brings to the society. That is why a huge number of Somalis moved out from other European countries and are now residing in UK cities.
For instance, some formerly run down estates in most of cities of UK are now vibrant areas where businesses are thriving. Also some of council estates in London where authorities experienced high number of crimes were transformed by Somalis that have turned them into thriving business zones.
With Somalia turning a new leaf, it is now abundantly clear that the diaspora will be a major driving force in the new dispensation, taking into account that the diaspora have been leading in investing back home in the form of upmarket hotels, supermarkets, restaurants and new homes in Mogadishu and in other cities in Somalia.
Indeed, the Mogadishu economy and other cities in Somalia are significantly underwritten by remittances from some two million diaspora Somalis, worth some $1.4 billion each year.
The London Conference comes at the right time, when new leaders have full mandate and support of the majority of the population. So the momentum is there to build a new relationship between the government and public. Somalia and International partners will also sign a cooperation agreement in order to ensure that a follow up procedures are in place on the outcome of the conference.
But the challenge still remains how to convince the international community to pump in more funds and investments that would enable Somalia tackle the challenges of security, economic growth, fight corruption, and strengthen regional federal states.
Other include rebuilding the national army, initiate genuine national political dialogue and put in place programmes of achieving one-person-one-vote in 2021.
In addition, Somalia is facing unforeseen famine affecting about 5.5 million people. This famine is likely to come in the way of the earlier planned programmes because it is likely to persist in the next six months.
Notably, the United Nations (UN) has only managed to raise 30 per cent of the $825 million target it had proposed in March to mitigate against the effects of the drought.
In London, the government delegation plan to convince key international actors such as the UK, the European Union (EU), African Union, Arab League, Turkey, UAE, and the US, that the timelines they have put in place are achievable, and are backed by realistic strategic goals.
Mr Abdirahman Omar Osman (Eng. Yarisow) is the Minister of Information, former Minister of Treasury, former Minister of Information, and former Senior Advisor and Spokesperson to the President and the Prime Minister/s of Somalia. Worked 10 years in UK local government as Area Housing Manager.