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Monday, January 19, 2015

Somali diaspora conference highlights, Rwanda | Diplomat News Network

Somali diaspora conference highlights, Rwanda | Diplomat News Network

A conference that brought together representatives of Somalia’s diverse and influential Diaspora to discuss key elements of a policy that will streamline their contribution to their country’s rebirth, draws to a close today (January 16) in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda.
Dubbed the ‘Diaspora Policy Consultation Conference for Development in Somalia’, the event is the brainchild of the Office for Diaspora Affairs (ODA), a department within Somalia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Investment Promotion. The conference is supported by AMISOM, the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) and Rwanda’s government.
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The Special Representative of the AU Commission Chairperson (SRCC) for Somalia (SRCC) and Head of AMISOM, Amb. Maman Sidikou attended the opening ceremony along with Omar Ali, Chief of Staff for The Somali Presidency, Amb. Welile Nhlapo of ACCORD and the Guest of Honor, Parfait Gahamanyi, the Director General the Multilateral Cooperation unit in Rwanda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.
“Somalia is in a process of coming back. Somalia is trying to get out of its fragility that has been there for the last 25 years. In order for it to get out of the fragility much more effort is needed and only Somalis can do it. I mean we can get help from anywhere else, but at the end we Somalis have to recognise and have to come back and provide the much needed skills, much needed ideas, much needed investments to save and assist the week system that we have today,” said the Chief of Staff, Omar Ali.
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“Somalia requires and deserves more than your remittances ladies and gentlemen. You owe it to these ordinary folks who didn’t have the privilege and opportunity you had to leave Somalia. You might have been sustaining them back home with your remittances, but it’s due to your enduring sacrifices that you still have Somalia today, a country you wish to return to someday,” Amb. Maman Sidikou told almost 100 participants who had flown into the Rwandan capital from countries like Malaysia, Canada, USA and other parts of the world.
Rwanda, fondly known as the land of a thousand hills, was selected by the ODA as the venue for this significant meeting because of the country’s exemplary track record, in engaging it’s extensive and dynamic diaspora network to support homegrown efforts to recover from internal conflict.
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“As Africans we need to come together and you know put ideas together that will make this continent more vibrant and more resilient instead of relying on foreign aid,” said Lucky Philip, the Director of Global Investment Promotion Unit at the Rwanda Development Board.
Participants focused on working group discussions and compiling suggestions that are expected to form the proposed pillars and thematic areas of the Diaspora Policy. They were also taken on field trips to key institutions and sites around the east-central African country to further learn from – and share with – their African counterparts. One highlight was the visit to Rwanda’s Parliament, the first in the world with a majority of women.
“What is actually left now is for them to go back to their home country and try to develop it as well, and this conference here is to try to persuade Somalis from abroad to come back and invest in Somalia,” said Ahmed Mohamed, an economic advisor in the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation.
The delegates come from diverse but representative walks of life e.g. medical professionals, clerics, civil servants, entrepreneurs and students who pledged at the close of the conference to use their influence and resources to drive development projects back home.

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