Somaliland: Western Union to Establish Services Nationwide


By: Yusuf M Hasan

HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – The local Western Union branch based in the capital Hargeisa is set to avail its services to clients within all regions of the country.

This was revealed by the Western Union Somaliland branch director Mr Mohamed Ismail Kahin during an interview with Somalilandsun in which he informed that the expansion will be in partnership with interested entrepreneurs who shall operate under franchise.

The local branch of Western Union Company (NYSE: WU), which opened in April 2011 is operated by the Global Exchange and Money Transfer a subsidiary of Global Export and Import Agency Ltd company owned by diaspora based Somalilanders.

The strategic agreement between the two companies that saw Somaliland become the fiftieth market African market served by WU also entails that local clients are availed all the Western Union® Money TransferSM services nationwide.

According to Mr Kahin the nationwide roll-out of services is as a result of the success that the local Western Union branch has garnered since inception coupled with the ever increasing demands by overseas based clients for a nationwide network.

Said he, “Apart from the first six months our branch is now sustainable and coupled with the increasing clientele we shall expand our services coverage area thus accommodate all in the country”

The local WU branch which has served clients from diverse locations like Iceland and Afghanistan pools its main clientele from North America and the Middle East.

“A majority of our customers are from the USA, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE” said Mr Kahin

On revealing that they also service clients from Europe The local WU boss says that they are intensifying promotions campaign thus attract a fair share of remittances from the large Somaliland Diaspora in various European countries.

With a four member team of highly trained and dedicated employees the Western Union branch currently based in Ibrahim Kodhbuur estate plans to move once its new building at the Hargeisa Central business district-CBD where it shall launch and manage its planned nationwide network of agents.

“Our new ultra-modern building in the centre of the city CBD coupled with our core group of highly trained staff shall facilitate the high quality service Western Union is reckoned with worldwide” says the WU local director who is currently engrossed in supervising final works at the high-rise building.

Queried On the issue of security of deposits the local branch director Mr Mohamed Ismail Kahin says that guarantees emanate from a 10-digit Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN) that Western Union provides the sender.

“In order to send funds, a sender goes to a Western Union office and presents funds (plus fees) for “Next Day” or “Money in Minutes” service. The sender provides his or her name and address, the recipient’s name, and a designated payment destination. Western Union then provides the sender a 10-digit Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN) that the sender must provide to the recipient. The recipient presents the 10-digit MTCN to our offices in Hargeisa and Money is then paid out in five minutes. If a recipient lacks identification documents, the sender and receiver can set up a pre-arranged password. All Funds are paid out in cash” says Mr Kahin

This ease of transfer that is attributed to the operational in-roads made by the local branch coupled with the worldwide standing of western Union has also facilitated business from some international investors and donor organizations operating in Somaliland.

According to Mr Abdikarim Abdi Adan, Managing Director of Global Exchange & Money Transfer who gave Somalilandsun an interview through Skype from Wales in Britain their operations have put Somaliland in the world financial market.

Said he, “Western Union is one of the most recognisable and trusted names in the money transfer industry and we are delighted to be working with them to offer their much needed services in Somaliland. In addition, their investment is a testament of the economic viability of our homeland and a great encouragement to other international investors.”

Though the Global Exchange & Money Transfer investment is yet receive any tax reliefs Mr Adan says that his moment of pride with the government came when the planning minister Dr Sa’ad Ali Shire told the Feb 2012 London Conference on Somalia that “investments by Western Union, DHL and Coca Cola were not only proof of Somaliland’s economic viability but its security status in the Horn Region as well”

Revealing that the actualization of the Western Union Somaliland branch was facilitated by the government of ex-president Rayale who he thanks the Global Exchange & Money Transfer MD attributes successes to the Current administration of president Silanyo that has established a conducive investment environment especially as pertains to banking laws.

According to comments made by Mr Jean Claude Farah, Western Union’s Senior Vice President for Middle East and Africa during the launching of the Somaliland branch in 2011: Somaliland is a vibrant and growing market that plays such an important role in the economic development of the broader region.

Said he “While We welcome the addition of an agent with strong community ties like Global Exchange and Money Transfer to our global network We’re also very excited to be in Somaliland with its vibrant and growing market .”

The extension of money transfer services to Somaliland marks a further step in Western Union’s commitment to the expansion and development of its pan-African network which provides a critical link to the ever growing African diaspora. The Western Union service will initially enable only receipt of funds in Somaliland from its global network of over 440,000 agent locations.

The global Western Union came about in 1851, when the New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company was organized in Rochester, New York by Hiram Sibley and others, with the goal of creating one great telegraph system with unified and efficient operations. Meanwhile, Ezra Cornell had bought back one of his bankrupt companies and renamed it the New York & Western Union Telegraph Company. Originally fierce competitors, by 1855 both groups were finally convinced that consolidation was their only alternative for progress. The merged company was named The Western Union Telegraph Company at Cornell’s insistence, and Western Union was born.