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UN-backed innovation challenge opens in Somalia

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A UN-backed innovation camp is underway in Mogadishu with 55 young Somali men and women brainstorming on best business ideas to improve the dairy industry.

A statement from the UN Development Program (UNDP) issued on Wednesday said participants in the first ever “Innovate for Somalia” will develop specific solutions to dairy industry challenges, which will then be reviewed, fine-tuned and developed into a business model.

UNDP Somalia Country Director, George Conway, congratulated the government on its leadership in making the event happen.
“These kinds of processes must involve broad collaboration between the Federal Government, between civil society and between the private sector, to bring us all together and think through what we can do differently,” Conway said.

“We need new thinking, new approaches to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and we rely on the youth of Somalia to articulate, bright, smart, new ideas that are bankable, that can create employment, that can help to reduce poverty in your country,” he added.

The social innovation event being run by two ministries is part of a series of innovation camps which will be held across Somalia and which will give young Somalis between the ages of 19 and 30 a chance to come up with innovative solutions to address development challenges in Somalia.
According to the UNDP, such business ideas or prototypes might be the establishment of a new company, a new NGO, or expanding the work of existing organizations with a scale-up plan.

“The core idea is that Somali challenges are tackled with Somali solutions, implemented by Somali people, and are locally owned and driven,” the UNDP said.

The innovation camps aim to support the government in implementing its National Development Plan, by using innovation to turn development challenges into serious social and economic ventures.

Abdi Dirshe, Permanent Secretary at Ministry of Planning, Investment and Economic Development, welcomed the young people to the event on behalf of the Somali Federal Government.

“This initiative will greatly contribute to the recovery and development of Somalia. We want to benefit from the skills and innovation of the Somali youth to address the challenges that are affecting our country,” he said.

The event, which will conclude with a finale on Oct. 9 with the young people forming teams to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges and win support for their idea.

The successful team who enter the UNDP incubation program will receive further mentoring and support to develop their business idea into a viable product or enterprise, and will go into a shortlist to receive financial support for their idea.

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Briefing Room

Singapore-flagged tanker attacked off Somalia but escapes

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AP — Mogadishu – An international anti-piracy force says a Singapore-flagged chemical tanker has exchanged fire with attackers off the coast of Somalia before escaping unharmed.

The European Union anti-piracy force says in a statement that the MT Leopard Sun was attacked by two skiffs early on Friday about 160 nautical miles off central Somalia. A private security team on the tanker fired warning shots and the skiffs turned away about 20 minutes later.

The Horn of Africa nation saw a brief resurgence of pirate attacks a year ago.

The EU statement says Friday’s attack is “likely to be piracy related” and is the first such attack since November.

The statement says the chemical tanker had been en route from Oman to Cape Town, South Africa.

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Briefing Room

US military says drone strike in Somalia kills 4 extremists

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VOA — A U.S. drone strike has killed several al-Shabab militants in southern Somalia, officials tell VOA.

Local sources said missiles fired Wednesday targeted a rickshaw carrying five al-Shabab militants near Jamaame, in the southern Lower Juba region.

“I can tell you that the airstrike hit a rickshaw and that five militants were killed. It was carried out by U.S. drone, helping our intelligence forces on the ground,” a Somali government official told VOA Somali on the condition of anonymity.

The attack was confirmed by witnesses and local residents, who also asked for anonymity because they feared militant reprisals.

Somali officials said they were investigating the identity of those targeted. Some sources said two of those in the rickshaw were civilians traveling with three militants.

A statement Thursday from the U.S. Africa Command said the strike was carried out by the U.S. military “in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia.” The statement said the strike killed four terrorists and no civilians.

On Tuesday, local residents in the region reported another airstrike that destroyed an al-Shabab training camp in the nearby town of Jilib. That airstrike, also confirmed by U.S. Africa Command, killed three militants.

The U.S. military has carried out dozens of airstrikes against al-Shabab and Islamic State militants in support of Somalia’s federal government.

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Briefing Room

U.S. military denies Al-Shabaab killed its soldier in Somalia

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MOGADISHU, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) — The United States military confirmed Tuesday no American soldier was killed or injured in southern Somalia as claimed by the Islamist militant group, Al-Shabaab.

The U.S. Africa Command (Africom), which oversees American troops on the continent, dismissed the report as incorrect that the insurgents killed the American soldier on the outskirts of Kismayo during a gun fight early Tuesday.

“We are aware of the reports, but they are incorrect. No U.S military were killed or injured in Somalia, as alleged in the reports,” Africom spokesperson Samantha Reho told Xinhua.

The militants through their radio station, Andalus had reported that the American soldier was killed in a gun battle that took place outside Kismayo town on Tuesday morning.

The allegations came amid intensified security operation by the African Union peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) backed by Somalia National Army (SNA) on Al-Shabaab controlled areas in the Lower Shabelle region, destroying several militant bases, checkpoints and explosives including an FM station run by Al-Shabaab.

The allied forces have ramped up offensives against the militants as the African Union forces continue with the drawdown which started with 500 troops last December.

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