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Somaliland: Empowering Women through ICT

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Women’s underrepresentation and lack of access in the ICT Sector is a global issue and it is no different in Somaliland, a conference on this issue has been organized in Hargeisa by Hayaan Haween, a platform designed to address issues that directly and indirectly affect women’s lives.

Attended by a number of intellectuals, women’s organizations, independent local researchers and others, the event focused on challenges facing women in the new technologies and the potential to improve women’s livelihood through ICT and how that impacts the economy in Somaliland.

Khadra Mohamed, host and graduate from Malaysia mentioned the state of technology in Somalilland and explained about the freedom to use the internet with regards to some restrictions on the Social Media platforms. She highlighted how those platforms are blocked or made inaccessible in many countries in Africa and the third world in general.

“I remember in the late 90s seeing broken computers being sent from Jigjiga or Mogadishu to be fixed in Hargeisa” Says Abdirashid I Ibrahim, Founder of Somali Jobs and Co-Founder of Maroodijeeh International University. “In 2000 there was a boom in the establishment of institutions offering technology courses with the first IT degree initiated in 2007” he added.

Abdirashid explained about the rapid development of technology related services in Somaliland potential to improve women’s livelihood through ICT which will have a huge positive impact in the economy. He spoke about the story of Njeri Rionge, a co-founder of the Multi-million Dollar Wananchi Online and her first business where she was selling yoghurt from a car trunk to high school students.

“This is a good example of the power of technology to help shift women from working in the informal sector to formal sectors” said Abdirashid, “You are all here because of technology, a Facebook post or a WhatsApp message is how you learned about this session tonight, right?” he concluded.

Abdulaziz Jama Oumer, a Master of Science in IT (Msc.IT) holder and a PhD candidate cited global statistics from International Telecommunication Union (ITU) depicting unequal access to technology between men and women. “There are no statistics for Somaliland or Somalia” He said highlighting that lack of information exacerbates this problem.

“Not everyone in Hargeisa owns a smartphone, not everyone uses The Internet” said Abdulaziz highlighting the Digital Divide and its limitations. Speaking about the limitless opportunities for women in the digital world, he said people can work from home, create new connections and can also enter the field of technology as professionals. “Sky is the limit” he said.

As for increasing technical knowledge and experience among professional women, he insisted that the only way to tackle the language barrier – perceived as one of the main barriers for young women to enter the ICT sector – is to start with improving the English Language first.

During the event, the panelists agreed that in order to move forward, a National ICT Policy must be developed, a policy that familiarizes girls with ICT.

At the end of the event, networking and mentorship connections were created, also job offers were made by some of the attendees who were previously lacking information about women in ICT. A number of women got an employment opportunity during the session.

From the huge turnout to the event and the comments from the Q&A session, it was evident that this was a topic of great interest for all.

Hayaan Haween “Journey of Women” is a platform founded in Hargeisa, Somaliland to highlight topics that affect women’s lives through raising awareness on critical issues. Previous topics featured on Hayaan Haween include Maternity Health, Literature of Somali Women, Breast Cancer and Mental Health Awareness and The Legend of Queen Arraweelo.  At these monthly events, a panel of experts discuss the topic followed by a Q&A session.

“Founded in May, 2017 this platform has proven to be popular with a growing following of young men and women” said Khadija Abdillahi Sheikh, a Banker, Social Entrepreneur and Co-founder of Hayaan Haween

 

You can follow Hayaan Haween on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for videos of this session and previous ones @HayaanHaween

 

Academic Researches

Somaliland: Sources of Campaign Financing in 2017 Presidential Election

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In a new research carried out by Center for Policy Analysis (CPA), a local Think tank organization publishes a new report on the Sources of Campaign Financing in 2017 Presidential Election in Somaliland. The new report focuses on how the election campaigns were financed by the three political parties and the amount each party spent on those campaigns.

You can download the full report in the below link:

Sources of Campaign Financing in 2017 Presidential Election  

 

 

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“Berbera Special Economy Zone Will Model Jebel Ali Freezone” DP World

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DP World Press Release

We are pleased to inform you about DP World’s agreement with the Government of the Republic of Somaliland to develop Berbera Special Economic Zone (BSEZ). The project will build on DP World’s existing operations at the Port of Berbera where the port has recently recorded the highest container volumes in its history. Berbera SEZ benefits from excellent connectivity being located less than 15km from Berbera port and is situated along the Berbera-Hargeisa highway.

DP World – which has over 35 years’ experience in developing and managing large-scale special economic zones and ports – will model the project on Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) in Dubai and will position Berbera as a gateway for the region; especially for those companies looking to serve countries in the Horn of Africa and the hinterland.  Investors and tenants in the zone will enjoy the benefit of an attractive regulatory framework and the ease of doing business via a One Stop Shop.

 

Presentation

Please see a short presentation on Berbera SEZ By Clicking Here  

 

Registration of Interest

Work on the project is underway and as we expect demand for the project to be high, we are currently inviting prospective companies to submit their specific requirements for operation in the SEZ.

To register your interest in Berbera SEZ, please fill out the following form: HERE

Once we have received your response, we would be delighted to discuss your requirements in further detail and address any questions you might have about Berbera SEZ. For any immediate follow up queries please contact us on PLEZ@dpworld.com

 

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Opinion: Where Do I Stand in a Changing Region?

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Over the past six decades, the Horn of Africa has been a region of strife and conflict ravaging both the human lives and state resources. Poor leadership style in the region criminalized both the state and the economy. This is why many fellow citizens in the region believe that the conflicts and crisis in the region are a state-driven.

Somalia’s prolonged state collapse is one of the heartbreaking troubles in the region and greatly impacted on the regional peace and stability. Though it could be debatable, one of the major drivers of the Somalia’s protracted state collapse, is Somalia’s irredentism policy towards the Somali-speaking regions in the Horn. Djibouti, Somali region in Ethiopia, and the Northeastern region in Kenya could be an example. In this case, re-establishing strong state institutions in Somalia by the Somalis, could mean what, to the other states in the region? Do the regional states are honest about restoring well-built state institutions in Somalia? Do Somalis are ready to abandon their irredentism foreign policy objective? These are some thought-provoking questions.

The Republic of Somaliland, which merged with the Italian Somalia in 1960 to form the Greater Somali State in the Horn of Africa declared its withdrawal from the union in 1991, following a bitter war with the Somalia’s military regime. Somaliland has not yet attained de jure recognition from the international community. This is another dilemma in the region which needs a particular attention and consideration of all parties concerned.

The decades-long standoff between Somaliland and Somalia’s warring factions, and even the successive transitional and federal governments, have been shaped by Somalia’s political instability since the collapse of the central government in 1991. This dilemma dates back to the early decades of Somalia’s creation as a state. However, if this stand off were not settled by the concerned parties, it will bring another cycle of conflict and confrontation.

The Ethio–Eritrea border conflict is another dimension of the region’s conflicts. This conflict claimed the lives of over 70,000 people on both sides. Though the two countries are closing up a chapter of hate and hostility, what does this first round negotiation and dialogue mean to the other states in the region? Could it bring political and economic change?.

The Djibouti–Eritrea clash near Ras Doumeira is another potential conflict which may erupt sooner or later, if the two countries fail to address it. Therefore, ending the border conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea will definitely have an effect on this part of the region. The question is: what kind of effect it will bring?

Claiming Somalia’s territorial waters by Kenya, is a breach of the international boundaries, including territorial waters, and, without hesitation, the Kenyans has shown an interest to extend its territorial sea and jurisdiction to the Somalia waters due to the inward-looking of the Somalia politicians. This is a potential conflict which could erupt sooner or later between Somalia and Kenya.

The four-year old conflict between the Dinka and the Neur, the largest and the second largest ethnic group in South Sudan respectively, is another setback which greatly affected the prospects of the South Sudan’s state in post-independence period. Without doubt, the regional states exported their differences to South Sudan allying with the warring parties.

An oil-rich Abyei region between the two Sudans is another contested area. The two countries are claiming the possession of that part of the region. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement reached by the two sides in 2005 highlighted the importance of resolving the conflict in the contested area of Abyie. This is another potential conflict which can escalate at any time in the future if the two parties fail to resolve it.

Despite the fact that the Horn of Africa is a troubled region, I am not cynical about seeing a peaceful and a prosperous Horn African region, but, the willingness of the regional leaders to realize that ambition is discouraging. I have a grave concern over the future of the region, and returning to war in a struggle to control both the state power and natural resources in the expenses of others is inevitable and unavoidable.

I ask myself, Do the Somali leaders wherever they are aware the changing nature of the Horn? Where do they stand in this changing region? Not as individuals, but as Somali politicians and intellectuals.

 

Nasir M. Ali

Hargeisa, Somaliland

 

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