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UN pledges to help Somali young innovators develop dairy industry

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MOGADISHU, Oct.10 (Xinhua) — The United Nations and Somalia on Tuesday pledged to help young entrepreneurs develop technological solutions for the dairy industry in the country.

Speaking at the end of a seven-day Social Innovation Camp that ended in Mogadishu, Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, Peter de Clercq challenged the youth to come up with practical solutions to social and economic issues facing the country.

According to a statement from the UN Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), De Clercq expressed his satisfaction with the ideas presented, saying it was testimony that simple and innovative ideas can be used to address real local problems.

“We have to see how we can support people like you with all these amazing ideas and see how we can push forward and put them into practice and make them contribute to the economy of this country,” he said, pledging continued UN support.

The UN-backed first ever “Innovate for Somalia” social innovation camp brought together 40 young Somali men and women who brainstormed on best business ideas to improve the dairy industry.

The participants received mentorship and incubation support from UNDP to help firm up their business ideas.

The social innovation event is 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 -30 a chance to come up with innovative solutions to address development challenges in Somalia.

Somalia’s Minister for Planning, Investment and Economic Development, Gamal Hassan lauded participants for their innovative drive, pledging more support to ensure their proposals become reality.

“We have been working with the UN in Somalia to make sure that together we give you an opportunity to come up with solutions and ideas that can benefit the country and all of us. We are together in this and we will give you all the support that you need,” Hassan stated.

Over the next three months, participants will receive mentorship and incubation support from UNDP to help firm up their business ideas.

“The next three months we will be in the incubation phase, transforming these ideas into businesses and developing their business models. It will be followed by a pitching event for investors,” said Sherif El Tokali from UNDP Innovate Somalia.

The Innovation Camp, the first of its kind to be held in Somalia, focused on the dairy industry – a sector critical to the country’s economic growth, but that still struggles with many challenges such as poor storage facilities, disease outbreaks and lack of animal feed that prevent the industry to reach its full potential.

The business proposals presented will be fine-tuned with the help of experts before being implemented as workable solutions.

The skills learned during the Camp, such as design thinking, creative problem solving, prototyping and testing, will be valuable transferable skills that can be used to advance the dairy industry, as well as other sectors in Somalia.

Such initiatives enable Somali Youth to focus on local solutions, helping them to create jobs and to support economic development.

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VIDEO: Inside Somali Fishing

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Fishing is a vibrant sector along the Somali Coast. With continued support through investment and improved management, the Somali fishing sector has the potential to boost the Somali economy, ensuring long-term growth and stability in the region.

Learn more at oneearthfuture.org

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A lifeline for millions in Somalia, money remittance industry seeks more support

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LONDON — Every month, Fatma Ahmed sends $200 of the earnings she makes in London to her family in Somalia.

“It’s for daily life. For rent, for buying grocery things, to live over there. Because actually in Somalia, that much we do not have,” she said.

Remittances from overseas diaspora constitute a vital part of the economy of many developing nations, none more so than Somalia, where the inflows add up to more than foreign aid and investment combined. However, analysts warn that the industry is poorly understood by regulators and banks, putting the welfare of millions of people at risk.

The two million Somalis living overseas send an estimated $1.3 billion back home every year. With no formal banking system in Somalia, most of the diaspora use remittance services.

Technology makes that possible, says Abdirashid Duale, CEO of Dahabshiil, one of Africa’s biggest remittance services.

“Now, it is so instant, where we have the latest technology, with the internet, secure channels that we can use to send money back home,” Duale said. “Or we use mobiles … smartphones, technology where it will help us to deliver money quickly, but less costly. Technology is supporting us also with the compliance issue.”

Remittance companies rely on global banks to route the money, and those banks must comply with regulations on money laundering and the financing of crime and terrorism.

Citing those concerns, many banks have chosen to withdraw from the market. Such a move is unnecessary, says remittance industry expert Laura Hammond of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.

“Very often, it is not based on any kind of empirical evidence that shows that money is going into the wrong hands,” Hammond said. “The fear is just there is a conflict in Somalia, there’s the al-Shabab movement. And so there is a problem in a sense, a real precarious nature of the Somali remittance industry.”

The industry received a high-profile boost last month as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donated $1 million using the remittance firm Dahabshiil, along with mobile phone companies Somtel and eDahab, with the money transferred “live” to 1,000 families suffering the drought in Somalia.

The technology is moving fast. However, the cooperation of the global banking system remains key, and the remittance industry wants regulators to do more to support this lifeline.

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Ethiopia devalues currency by 15 percent to boost exports

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ADDIS ABABA, Oct 10 (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s central bank devalued the Ethiopian birr by 15 percent on Tuesday, its first such move in seven years to boost lagging exports.

The birr was quoted by the National Bank of Ethiopia at a weighted average of 23.4177 against the dollar on Monday, compared to what will be 26.9215.

“The devaluation was made to prop up exports, which have stagnated the last five years owing to the birr’s strong value against major currencies,” Yohannes Ayalew, the bank’s vice governor, told a news conference in the capital Addis Ababa.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, have both repeatedly urged Ethiopia to consider devaluing its currency to boost exports as they are mostly unprocessed products and need to stay competitive on price.

Ethiopia has operated a managed floating exchange rate regime since 1992.

The Horn of Africa country is the continent’s biggest coffee exporter but its total export revenue has been falling short of targets for the last few years owing to weaker commodity prices.

Addis Ababa earned $2.9 billion in the 2017-2018 fiscal year, versus a target of $4 billion.

On Tuesday, the central bank also announced that it has raised the main interest rate to 7 percent from 5 percent to stimulate savings as well as to counter inflation.

“The rate was pushed to mitigate the inflationary pressure that could arise from the devaluation,” Yohannes said.

Ethiopia’s inflation rose slightly to 10.8 percent year-on-year in September from 10.4 percent a month earlier, according to figures released by the statistics office on Friday.

Ethiopia’s economy is one of the fastest growing in Africa, with the IMF expecting a growth rate of 9 percent for the 2016/17 fiscal year.

The expansion, however, has mainly been fuelled by huge public expenditure. The government has invested heavily in dams for hydroelectric power, new highways and an electrified railway linking the landlocked nation to a port in neighbouring Djibouti.

The IMF has said Ethiopia needs to attract more private sector investment to maintain growth. But Addis Ababa has in the past tended to brush off such advice and said it would keep charge of key sectors. (Reporting by Aaron Maasho; Editing by John Stonestreet and Andrew Heavens)

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