October 8, 2015

Somali Ministers of Trade and Industry Tour Europe with SPARK

SPARK has initiated and organised a week-long tour of Somali Ministers of Trade and Industry to Europe from 5 – 12 October 2015. The Ministers were accompanied by representatives from the Somali Chamber of Commerce and successful Diaspora entrepreneurs currently active in the Horn of Africa. So far the delegation has attended important meetings with government institutions, businesses and Diaspora groups in the Netherlands and will continue the tour in Sweden and Denmark. The tour’s primary objective is to promote economic cooperation between businesses in Europe and the Somali regions, whilst also educating the European Somali Diaspora on the plentiful business opportunities in their country of origin.

SPARK is extremely proud to have organised this tour in collaboration with our partner organisation DutchSom, bringing together ministers from three regions of Somalia on a pioneering trip. This is the first time that officials from The Federal Government of Somalia, Government of Puntland State and Government of Republic of Somaliland have united to travel together on a tour of this nature. This unique cooperation of the ministers underlines their willingness to put aside political tensions to enhance economic prosperity in the region as a whole business promotion and knowledge creation.

Whilst in the Netherlands, the delegation attended fruitful meetings with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a Dutch parliamentary commission and both business and Diaspora communities. In organising this event SPARK hopes to set a precedent for future collaborative economic tours of the governments of these regions, emphasising common economic interests that will stimulate cooperation.

There is a consensus that Somalia is suffering from an identity issue as the country transitions from decades of civil war to a more stable situation. The regions of Somaliland and Puntland in particular are showing promising signs of increased stability, and their respective ministers insist that now is the time for investors to react, starting businesses and creating employment opportunities for the people living in these regions. Somalia’s public sector has endured enormous suffering as a result of the protracted civil war, yet the Ministers argues that in the absence of the public sector, the private sector has flourished, arguably evidencing that Somalia is an ideal breeding ground for business enterprise. The ministers convinced the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Somalia wished to move away from humanitarian aid and towards a more sustainable system of development aid. They were adamant that these regions lacked neither capital nor labour, but required instead education and technology. Their Dutch counterparts were highly receptive to the ministers’ presentations and agreed that more must be done to alter Somalia’s negative image.

SPARK was excited by the honesty and openness with which the discussions were held. This tour can only prove positive for projects currently active in Somalia, with capacity building and Diaspora entrepreneurship two of the focuses in the region. Diaspora groups were surprised and encouraged to see the three regions represented on a collaborative tour, increasing the attraction of taking part in SPARK’s Migrant Entrepreneurship Programme.

Somali Ministers Tour

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