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Dahabshiil CEO And Dr Laura Hammond Discuss Preliminary Findings Of Remittance Research

"In my experience, remittances have been instrumental in alleviating poverty and nurturing local economies in some of the Somali territories' most remote locations. Particularly through its work with IFAD, Dahabshiil has invested heavily in expanding its network of money transfer agents in order to reach those communities.

"Remittances are primarily based on peer-to-peer personal relationships. The rapid spread of new telecommunications technology has been essential to stabilising and increasing remittance flows by allowing people to keep in closer contact with their families in the diaspora."

Dahabshiil Group entered Somalia's booming telecoms industry in 2008 with the acquisition of Somtel, a fast-growing firm specialising in mobile and high speed broadband.

This expansion is indicative of the synergies between the region's telecommunications and remittance industries. Diaspora money has poured into telecoms as young, dynamic firms have competed vigorously for market share. As technology has advanced, communications between transfer agents has been greatly facilitated.

Mr Duale said: "In the early 1990s, high frequency radio was the primary means of communication and money transfer. Two decades later the Somali territories offer some of the most advanced and competitively priced telecoms services in the world. Dahabshiil has rapidly assimilated this new technology as it has become available."

With seventy per cent of Somali families now owning at least one mobile phone, the increasing connection between migrants and their families has fanned demand for remittances. Transfers to Hargeisa, as Mr Duale explained, tripled during the mid-90s as telecoms services first became widely available. After twenty years of upheaval, both industries have become central to maintaining important familial and social connections, often across long distances.

Diaspora investment has also been a critical factor in the growth of the energy, import/export, manufacturing and construction industries. As the security situation in Mogadishu has improved, Mr Duale indicated that new houses are springing up as families look to return home.

"The construction sector in particular is benefitting hugely from remittance inflows. A rising property market will create wealth and jobs, and will be an important part of the capital area's economic recovery," he said.

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