The Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation are making concerted efforts to enhance coordination between local professionals and their counterparts from the diaspora.
The ministry held a one-day forum in the capital Mogadishu on Tuesday, aimed at assimilating the two groups and encouraging them to inculcate a culture of sharing ideas and experiences.
The well-attended meeting graced by several government ministers was supported by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
“It is imperative that we put our differences aside, unite for the sake of the country,” Deputy Prime Minister, Mahdi Ahmed Guled Khadar said in his address to the forum.
Mr Mahdi acknowledged significant contributions made to Somalia by local Somali professionals and their counterparts in the diaspora. “Everyone should stand up for the country through voluntary initiatives. We shouldn’t wait for others to unite us and bring us together,” he said.
The Somali diaspora makes a huge contribution to the country’s economy through remittances and in various sectors. Available statistics also show that professionals from diaspora occupy at least 80-per cent of positions in the government. The forum by the government is part of efforts being made by the government to ensure equal opportunities in the public sector to local professionals.
“It is the intention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to enhance the engagement and conversation between locals and the diaspora to rule out misunderstanding, attract the diaspora back to the country and inculcate a culture of sharing of ideas, and how to take advantage of existing opportunities to rebuild the country,” Ahmed Isse Awad, the Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs noted.
Speaking at the same event, the Deputy AU Special Representative for Somalia, Simon Mulongo, urged the forum to contribute skills and resources to rebuild the country.
“The diaspora and the people of Somalia need to come together and be able to hold anything they want to lay their hands on, to be able to succeed even much better,” Mr Mulongo advised.
The annual forum serves as a platform where Somalis in the diaspora and local professionals can share ideas and experiences.
Dr Sadia Siyad, the Chancellor of Hano Academy – a vocational training school in Mogadishu noted that while the Somali diaspora plays a significant role in the country’s reconstruction process, dialogue with all stakeholders to elevate the level of contributions and support to the country needs strengthening.
“I think it’s a great platform to start to have a dialogue, to actually come together as Somalis and discuss what we can do as a community for our country to make a difference,” Dr Sadia said.
“I think it’s very important for each one of us to know that we are all Somalis, we only have one country called Somalia. Everyone has a civic duty which involves giving back to the community,” said Hafsa Haji Elmi, a diaspora Somali.
The Director of Diaspora Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mohamed Abdi Ali, expressed optimism at the high level of discussions at the forum.
“This was an important platform to enhance integration between the Somali diaspora and their counterparts who grew up here. A lot of ideas and knowledge was exchanged,” he said.
The Diaspora Affairs department is a unit in the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; established to promote cohesion among diaspora Somalis and enhance diaspora activities.