Representatives from the Global Diplomatic Council (GDC) and InterNations Exchange (INEX) visited the offices of the Diaspora Agency in Hargeisa, Somaliland on 22 October 2019. Hon. Amb. Yohan Byrde, Secretary General and Executive Chairperson of the GDC and Mr. Jeroen Zandberg, Deputy Secretary General, had several informative meetings with the SLDA Chairman, Abdi Abdullahi Hersi, and numerous project managers of the Diaspora Agency. During these interchanges the SLDA representatives explained the workings of the agency and outlined their plans for the coming years. In the discussions that followed the focus lay on the possibilities of cooperation between the Agency and the GDC and how the international network and other resources of the GDC can best be utilised to support the Agency in their work for Somaliland and the over half a million Somalilanders in the diaspora.
The Somaliland Diaspora Agency (SLDA) was established in 2010 by presidential decree in order to have a better understanding of the diaspora of Somalilanders and to develop and implement a framework to enable the Somaliland communities abroad to keep in touch with their country of origin. Furthermore, the Diaspora Agency is active in attracting investments to Somaliland and provides information and support for those who wish to set up a company or wish to engage in some other form of economic activity in Somaliland. Since the majority of the Somalilanders abroad are engaged in economic activity in their new homes, there is an enormous pool of resources that Somaliland can tap into in order to develop the country further. The remittances of Somalilanders working abroad sent back to the country number many millions of US dollars per year and are vital to the economy of Somaliland. The diaspora is also a major source of funds where it comes to investment in the retail- and hospitality sectors. The majority of the diaspora investments come from the UK, USA and Canada.
The meetings ended in a positive atmosphere and laid the groundwork for a future working relationship between the Diaspora Agency and the Global Diplomatic Council. His Excellency Amb. Yohan Byrde is committed to working with the Diaspora Agency in improving the relations between Somaliland and its Diaspora.
Somaliland has great untapped economic potential, which is slowly becoming known throughout the world. The GDC delegation also visited the coastal city of Berbera which has a modern port that is built and operated by DP World, a Dubai based company, which bought a lease for thirty years and invested 442 Million US dollars into the facilities of the port. The newly established Free Zone is also located in Berbera. This area provides companies in trade and production many benefits and is set to grow rapidly when it is officially opened in 2020. The Berbera port is one of the main channels through which goods are transported to and from landlocked Ethiopia, a country with a population of over 100 million people. The predicted economic growth of Ethiopia therefore also provides real business opportunities for Somaliland.
The extensive network of the Global Diplomatic Council also includes business leaders and state-of-the-art companies who believe in the added value of a globalised value chain and the profits these bring for all. The GDC believes that Somaliland is one of the few diamonds in the rough waiting to be developed and explored with great possibilities for successful businesses. It therefore sees itself as a logical and valued partner of the Somaliland government, its agencies and multinational business corporations.