Members of the opposition in Somalia warned this week that the country’s federal government is about to sign a secret petroleum exploration and drilling agreement with two foreign companies a month before its term in office expires, which would “pose a great danger” to the future of Somalia and its natural resources.
“On 5 June 2018, the Federal Government of Somalia and Federal Member states signed an agreement on sharing of natural resources in Baidoa, which states that any agreement on the drilling, exploration or search for oil in the country must be transparent, thoroughly debated, evaluated and agreed upon, and finally approved by the House of the People of the Federal Republic of Somalia, before it is signed,” the letter reads.
The Council of Presidential Candidates (CPC) in Somalia strongly opposes the secret deal between Coastline Exploration Inc and Liberty Petroleum Corporation on oil block deals, Warsame said on Twitter.
“Any agreement on the drilling for oil must be transparent, thoroughly debated, evaluated, agreed upon & approved by the Parliament, before it is signed,” he added.
The secret agreement would be signed just a month before the current government’s term in office ends, the opposition says in the letter, noting that this timing of an oil deal “creates strong suspicions.”
Somalia launched in August last year its first-ever offshore licensing round. Back then, the country expected to announce the winners of the oil auction in the first quarter of 2021, Ibrahim Ali Hussein, the chief executive of the Somali Petroleum Authority (SPA), told Reuters.
At the end of August this year, WorldRemit, one of the leading players in the world of international money transfers, put in a reported $500m bid for the takeover of the US app-based remittance company Sendwave. Not bad going for a company that was founded only 10 years ago by a Somali entrepreneur, Ismail Ahmed.
Remittances today account for more than FDI or overseas development aid. The global market is estimated at $700bn a year. Nigeria alone received an estimated $24bn in remittances in 2018, up from $4bn in 2013.
Many economists predicted that the economic meltdown caused by Covid-19 would lead to a massive drop in remittances and as a result, adversely impact emerging markets. The World Bank, at the start of the pandemic in April, estimated a 20% fall in remittances, anticipating catastrophic consequences.
However, these predictions were confounded when some countries, such as Kenya, posted growing year-on-year remittance numbers as at August. Ahmed is not surprised by this. He says he couldn’t fathom the World Bank estimates as experience had shown him that remittances were generally countercyclical.
The rise in remittances, for example in countries like Kenya, has been attributed to a number of factors. One is that many of the people sending money back home are actually those ‘essential workers’ who have kept health facilities going, and provided the services that have kept the economies of the West afloat.
In addition, government stimuli had cushioned the economic blow and the different economic mitigation schemes have meant that in some countries, such as the US, disposable income at the end of the month has at times actually been higher than what many workers were earning before the pandemic.
Ahmed says that the figures for WorldRemit, as at October, were quite strong for the year. “The only region where there was a noticeable fall are the Gulf countries, especially with Indian workers sending money back home.”
Recalling his life story, he says it seems that he was destined to work in money transfer services. He was born and raised in what is now Somaliland and he reflects that his family often received monies from a relative working in the Gulf.
With an excellent head for figures, he was awarded a World Bank scholarship to study economics at the University of London in the UK. But before he could take up the offer, the Somali Civil War intervened.
In the chaos that followed, he managed to escape and thanks to the money sent to him by his brother working in Saudi Arabia, he was able to purchase an air ticket out of Djibouti to the UK.
Expertise in the world of remittances
Fascinated by the world of remittances, he wrote a research paper on the subject at Sussex University; and whilst at the London Business School, as part of a case study project, he put together a model of a remittance business. This was to become the blueprint for what is today WorldRemit.
Before setting up WorldRemit, Ismail worked at the UN to advise on the system of remittances after 9/11.
While working on a UN Development Programme for Somalia, out of Nairobi, he noticed fraud involving senior colleagues. He blew the whistle and, for this, was dismissed.
He fought his corner, alleging unfair dismissal. He won his case and substantial compensation. This was the seed money he used to launch WorldRemit together with Catherine Wines, who also had extensive experience in money transfers, having herself restructured a remittance business that was subsequently sold to Travelex.
He says the scope of their ambition right from the get-go was big – hence the name of the company. As a student, he had experienced the frustrations and high charges involved in sending money back home. Working at the UN, he had realised that the process could be expensive as well as far from frictionless.
Right from the outset, he says, he knew that using rapidly improving IT technology was going to be the ace in their pack. Properly deployed, it could challenge the two giants in the field – Western Union and Moneygram.
He sees WorldRemit as an aspect of the increasingly important fintech sphere. The runaway success of M-Pesa and mobile money in Kenya underscored to him, in the early 2000s, the enormous potential of digital.
However, breaking into the market wasn’t plain sailing. The dominant players had, in many cases, struck exclusivity deals with banks or agents and seemed unassailable.
Given the very tight space left in the market, WorldRemit started with a single agent in both Uganda and Kenya. But the company still managed to get considerable business. This proved to them that their business was viable and also that the market was growing apace.
It was not long before WorldRemit became a substantial global player. Today the company operates in over 6,500 money transfer corridors worldwide and sends money from 50 countries to more than 150 nations.
The acquisition of Sendwave will make it a company that generates over $200m in revenue and manages more than $7.5bn of remittance flows.
The deal will strengthen the company’s position in the US, the world’s biggest source of outward remittances. “You can’t be big in money transfers if you’re not big in the US,” says Ahmed.
Industry more streamlined
The remittance industry has definitely benefited from having more players in the market: costs have been drastically reduced and the spread on exchange rates has also fallen considerably. However, some analysts warn that it is becoming an increasingly difficult area in which to make money as competition is eroding margins and the marketing costs to acquire new customers are greater than the gains.
Ahmed doesn’t agree; he counters that the industry will not only grow but will evolve. One factor behind the resilience of remittances has been the digitisation of payments. “Somaliland is pretty much a cashless society today. In Kenya, 90% of remittances are non-cash based, with the majority going to mobile money. In Nigeria 90% of international money transfers will end up in a bank account. So even during lockdowns, remittance flows still take place.”
He believes that the digitisation of remittances will also enable countries and analysts to better understand and make use of data that is now more readily available.
He also anticipates that the infrastructure backbone of remittances, which is ultimately about matching and settling trades, can help play a greater role in business transactions such as purchasing machinery or goods from abroad, as well as in intra-African trade, where too often buyers need to access dollars or euros to settle a payment within Africa.
Remittances have often been overlooked as a development tool, he says, but today they are a key indicator from a macro-economic perspective. Nonetheless they have been criticised for being ‘unproductive’ capital in that they are used in the ‘receiving’ country to make basic purchases.
Ahmed refutes this and says that as well as covering expenses such as school fees, food or medical bills, a big chunk of remittance payments goes to starting new businesses, investing in land and property.
Somalia on Tuesday morning announced it is cutting diplomatic ties with Kenya, in the latest escalation of a spat between the two, and following the invitation of Somaliland leader Muse Bihi to Nairobi.
Somalia cuts diplomatic ties with Kenya over Somaliland
Osman Dubbe, the Somali Minister for Information declared the news on national TV a few minutes to 2am in the morning, breaking tradition of countries making such pronouncements during the day.
Dubbe said Kenya had “constantly interfered” with Somalia’s internal affairs and that Nairobi was violating Somalia’s sovereignty.
He said Kenyan diplomats in Mogadishu will have seven days to leave the country. But this came just a week after Mogadishu actually expelled the Kenyan ambassador to Somalia, Lucas Tumbo, and recalled theirs to Nairobi, Mohamud Ahmed Tarzan, following a similar complaint of interference.
Somalia had also submitted a complaint to regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), to include the spat with Kenya during the upcoming virtual summit on Dec 20 on Tigray.
Kenya though, became the second country in a year after Guinea, with which Somalia has cut ties over the Somaliland issue.
Bilateral talks between Kenyan and Somaliland delegations
Kenya hosts Bihi
But as Mogadishu moved in the night, Nairobi was hosting Bihi for bilateral talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta. Both sides on Monday said they had agreed on a number of issues and would continue discussions on Tuesday on business and security cooperation.
With the cutting of diplomatic ties, it means the Kenyan embassy in Mogadishu and Somalia’s mission in Nairobi will be shut and their officials sent back home. But both countries, based on Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, will remain obligated to offer visa and other travel and immigration services to nationals of each other.Advertisement
In fact, each country will remain obligated to protect premises owned by either side on their host territories.
However, despite having legal obligations to protect citizens of each other, the actual protection of each other’s nationals may be granted to a third acceptable state.
It was unclear by Tuesday morning what will happen to military cooperation between Somalia and Kenya which has sent troops to the country under the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom). Legally, it is Amisom to make a decision about troop movements, but in consultation with the UN and troop contributing countries.
About 350,000 Somali refugees also live in Kenya, most of them in camps in Dadaab and Kakuma. Kenya will have to continue protecting them, under the international humanitarian law.
What may be exposed, however, are the properties owned by Somalia businesses and politicians in Nairobi.
Officials in the Kenyan capital said on Tuesday morning they had not yet received any formal communication from Mogadishu on the severing of ties.
Kenyan government official’s attempts to block a local art collective’s music video that had been uploaded to YouTube
Social media’s complex symbiotic relationship with mainstream media is still evident in powerful ways.
Somalia specialist Peter Chonka, for example, argues that the blurring of public and private boundaries inherent in the country’s social media environment can be disruptive. It has resulted in a lack of coherence in political communication by state actors
Not only have digital media and mobile phones created pathways for African entrepreneurs and consumers to access local and global networks with greater ease and speed, but the technological sector that supports digital media – from mobile phones to laptops and internet connections – has come to require a digital entrepreneurship that benefits from the creativity of African citizens.
Traditional and new media
Social media’s complex symbiotic relationship with mainstream media is still evident in powerful ways.
Somalia specialist Peter Chonka, for example, argues that the blurring of public and private boundaries inherent in the country’s social media environment can be disruptive. It has resulted in a lack of coherence in political communication by state actors. This further challenges their legitimacy. Tensions between traditional and modern forms of communication are reflected in the online clash of views over “appropriate” online content, moral values and perceived threats to national security.
Media scholar Brian Ekdale highlights the debates around “morality” in social media content. He researched a Kenyan government official’s attempts to block a local art collective’s music video that had been uploaded to YouTube. Ekdale then considers what this shows about the ongoing tensions between global media technology giants and local users and regulators on the continent
What is especially interesting is the way in which African users have found ways to adapt and appropriate digital and mobile media, for example, developing codes to communicate via mobile phone without using airtime – so-called ‘flashing’ or ‘beeping’ (calling and hanging up before the receiver can answer so as to avoid incurring a call cost).
While this creativity can be celebrated as an ingenious way for African users to adapt digital and mobile media to their own circumstances, it also points to the often exorbitant costs of airtime and data which are obstacles to the use of new media technologies in African countries. Airtime comes at such a high cost in South Africa, for example, that it is often offered as a prize in consumer competitions, or airtime vouchers are given as gifts or freebies.
The advent of digital media has turned the media landscape upside down. The news cycle moves at lightning speed, thanks to live tweeting, blogging and citizen journalism, all unknown just a few years ago.
To remain accessible, conventional media practitioners in Africa are adapting to a new media world that is time-sensitive and more interactive. Advocacy journalism, in particular, is growing exponentially—bloggers and citizen journalists are mobilizing for various causes, including good governance.
Although a lot has changed in media technology and operations over the last 15 years, society still looks to the media to play its traditional role—to inform, educate and entertain.
In Africa the media plays an even more critical role, that of deepening and institutionalizing democracy.
Citizens need to be informed as nations take on new responsibilities in a globalized world.
“Media plays an important role in buildding an informed society. Said shakir essa somali digital media and journalist news publisher at allafrica
Citizens need credible information from a media that can skillfully moderate debate and provoke meaningful conversations that can lead to transforming africa
the media must see itself as instrumental to ensuring and improving the quality of life in society.
<p class="has-drop-cap" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">“Journalists see themselves as watchhdogs. Instead, I see the media as a leader. Watchdogs just sit down and watch, but a leader stands up and leads. You have to walk and work,” Mr. Chinje said in an interview with <em>Africa Renewal.</em> “Journalists see themselves as watchhdogs. Instead, I see the media as a leader. Watchdogs just sit down and watch, but a leader stands up and leads. You have to walk and work,” Mr. Chinje said in an interview with Africa Renewal.
Africa needs journalism that innovates and supports innovation in a modernizing continent, he says, one that not only grows, but promotes growth and the development of society. It needs journalism that not only generates the ideas that are the engine of social transformation, but also moderates the debates that emerge from these societal changes.
Digital media and journalism as a sector is evolving, and there are plenty of job opportunities in the field. However, Aspiring journalists have to build their experience and gather certain skill sets to thrive in the industry, said: shakir essa ( shakir is a somali digital media and journalist news publisher at allafrica
If you’re interested in starting (or growing) a career as a media in east africa, then you have a lot to learn from shakir essa
Shakir started his career in journalism as an intern at the allAfrica news website and quickly scaled through his career as a journalist, amplifying African voices and stories.
Shakir Essa on, July 6th,2016 for a 30-minute Facebook Live session where he’ll be discussing journalism ans digital media as a profitable career choice, and the skills aspiring journalists need to acquire.
Shakir essa is digital media publisher and PR consultant who is currently consulting at Media allAfrica news, as a radio producer, media relations trainer and digital journalism trainer. He also works as a volunteer youth mentor and freelance journalist.
Latest years shakir had a successful career at one of the africa leading international news sites and radio, the ALLAFRICA.
While working for AllAfrica, he works as trucking industries on Amazon prime in USA
Also he led several productions including creating digital content for younger audiences and news coverage of somali politics
In June 2016, he took one of the lead roles in setting up somalia and the breakaway region somaliland
For live broadcasting on social media His work helped direct the day to day running of the live broadcasting and training journalists on storytelling and social media skills.
Shakir Essa served as editor at allafrica news media and somali news tvs
The Shakir Essa Report, first aired January 2012, is a thirty-minutes, weekly report at allafrica on storytelling for African immigrant stories in northern Africa, Libya and Tunisia.
Shakir essa served as editor at allafrica news site’s,