Shortly after the April 2 Garissa University College massacre, the authorities suspended the licences of all remittance firms, including my company, Dahabshiil. Dahabshiil is a global company, operating in 126 countries, 40 of which are in Africa. It complies fully with all international regulations.
It is only our operations in Kenya that have been affected by the licence suspension.
We are serving millions of customers from every corner of the globe.
The President’s announcement on Thursday that he had asked the Central Bank of Kenya to allow 13 remittance companies to resume in Kenya is welcome news indeed. Although of course we are fully regulated, we are more than happy to make any changes if required by the Central Bank.
Remittances not only help reduce poverty by enabling people to help their loved ones pay for food, shelter, medicine, education and other basic necessities. The funds are invested in business, agriculture, construction, promoting development and creating jobs. For remittance firms that work in Somalia, it is striking how much the country has changed in recent years.
For the first time in more than two decades, it has a government recognised across the world, including by the United Nations, United States and European Union. A sure sign of how much the situation has improved was US Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent trip to Mogadishu, the first ever visit by a US Secretary of State. And with US President Barack Obama coming next month to Kenya and Ethiopia, who knows if he, like Kerry, will make a quick stop in Somalia. Other countries are also heavily involved in the reconstruction of Somalia, including Turkey, Qatar and the UAE. Ministers from Igad recently held their regional meeting in Mogadishu.
Another key factor in the improved situation in Somalia has been the contribution of the contribution of its dynamic private sector, including Dahabshiil.
It has helped rebuild the country, create jobs, provide investment funds and has, through its corporate social responsibility activities, supported health, education and sports. Security in Somalia is in a much better state than it was four years ago. With the help if the international community, including the Kenyan military, al Shabaab has been pushed out of most parts of the country, including the main towns and cities. Pirates no longer rule the seas, and the devastating famine of 2011 is over. Ironically, it is at this time of real improvement and hope for Somalia, that it is becoming more difficult to send remittances to the country.
During Somalia’s worst of times, including the periods of control by clan militias, warlords and terrorists, there were no obstacles to remitting funds there. Now that most of the country is in the hands of an internationally recognised and legitimate government, the situation is becoming more difficult.