By: Mark T Jones
Somalilandsun – The Horn of Africa Business Association (HABA) applauds the progress made by Somaliland over the last two decades and feels privileged to have strong and purposeful connections with the region. Presently the greatest single threat to the region is unemployment, closely followed by water and food security. It has been heartening to see locals and the Diaspora playing a constructive role in helping stimulate growth as this is essential to continuing economic and social development.
Whilst the Horn and much of East Africa remains a challenging region in a number of ways, it has been heartening to see a growing confidence and this in turn has begun to yield dividends in regard to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Somaliland has won many admirers around the globe for its single-minded and courageous spirit. HABA, as a non-political business association and specialist consultancy is deeply troubled by the fact that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London has decided to advise against all travel to Somaliland by British nationals. Risk is something that people assess on a daily basis and yet it is regrettable that the FCO have sought fit to issue a blanket warning, something which will cause enormous anxiety to business leaders, NGOs and large numbers of the Somali Diaspora, as well as considerable disquiet throughout Somaliland and beyond.
Rather than helping change misconceptions about the Horn of Africa this will undo much of the good work that has been achieved in recent years. The fact that there is no official British representation in Somaliland does not help matters. Whilst HABA recognises the importance of vigilance, in this instance it believes that the FCO has been overly hasty.
The Horn of Africa Business Association (HABA) remains passionately committed to the people and countries of the region. Rest assured that we will work assiduously to play a positive role that sees constructive and personal engagement not from gilded offices in London or gated legations in Nairobi, but on the ground in the Horn of Africa, face to face with our Somali friends and associates.
Mark T Jones
Horn of Africa Business Association (HABA)
124 Cromwell Road
LONDON SW7 4ET