Abdirahman Hersi is the dynamic and energetic CEO of Horn of Africa Strategic Consulting Initiatives or HASI consulting Consulting is key regional player consulting services related to strategic management, leadership, marketing, HR, and other organizational development for business, NGOs and government institutions. HASI also provides services related to project management, proposal & concept note development, drafting polices & procedures.

Mr Hersi has attended the Africa Trade & Investment Global Summit in Washington DC and been kind enough to give us an exclusive interview on the summit and how it affects Somaliland and the region in general.

Tell us about the ATIGS summit and who was in attendance?

LapCorp Group presentation at ATIGS 2018

The 2018 Africa Trade & Investment Global Summit (ATIGS), was held on June 24 to 26, 2018 at the World Trade Center Washington D.C, under the main theme “Driving Trade, Unleashing Investment and Enhancing Economic Development: the Gateway to African Markets”. ATIGS is a prestigious biennial business conference and exhibition designed specifically to promote and facilitate international trade between Americas, Asia, Caribbean, Europe, UAE, with Africa; to facilitate foreign direct investment in Africa, and to provide a platform for businesses to expand into new markets.

The original idea of the ATIGS was conceived by a Cameroonian businessman and the owner of LaboCorp Group of Companies who has worked with many business and industry leaders to make this dream summit a reality. The US Chamber of Commerce has been a tremendous help in facilitating visas for the delegations, and since the last ATIGS held in San Francisco did not have a single participant from Africa due to visa issues.

There were more than 70 countries in attendance including government delegations from ministers, governors, heads of chambers of commerce, high-profile African business leaders, project developers and international investors.The event covered 16 economic sectors, particularly manufacturing, agribusiness, power, construction, transportation, IT, health, financial technology or cryptocurrency, tourism, telecoms, and natural resources sectors.

There were both government and private sector investors seeking to get in the ground level of African development and with varied interests in many economic sectors. This was the basic idea of the summit, to bring together investors and Africa.

What were the main topics of discussion in the summit?

Because of the main purpose of either attracting investment or finding the right investment opportunity with the right country or the right business in attendance, this was everyone’s singular focus. The more prepared countries had presentations to showcase their natural resources, their economic There were different keynote speeches about countries highlighting their natural resources, farm and factor production. I was amazed by how different countries were organized, government officials, business leaders, investment consulting firms and that each countries team had a unified plan to attract the most investment to their country.

The most discussed topics were investment in natural resource such as fishing, agriculture, minerals an oil exploration. Other areas that are pertinent to African development such telecommunication and technology, clean and sustainable energy, industrialization, raising the standard of healthcare were discussed in great detail.

The western African participants both public and private sector participants from Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon and others were the best prepared teams. From east Africa, Ethiopia had the most visible presence with their Washington DC Embassy staff, Chamber of Commerce as well as many business leaders in their private sector were present.

What about Somaliland, was there a delegation from Somaliland attending the Summit?

Actually, I was the only one person from Somaliland representing my firm HASI Consulting. The thing that surprised me the most was the Ethiopian delegations presentation which talked about their stake acquisitions from Djibouti, Kenya and Sudan and the glaring omission of any mention of Somaliland, Berbera Port or the Corridor project, not even a word about Somaliland was uttered by the Ethiopian team. A western businessman in attendance asked the Ethiopian delegation why they have not pursued Berbera and their response was that it is possible in the future!

I have talked to many investment firms from around the world and I was always shocked that most have not heard of Somaliland. Even some Ethiopian companies have not heard of us!!

The UAE delegation did mention Berbera Port deal with DP World.

What is your suggestions to our Government on how to raise Somaliland’s profile in summits like these?

Preparation is everything to be successful in these important gatherings, the Government, business leaders from Somaliland need to be prepared to be able to present the investment opportunities in our country. And the first step is to actually attend!

At a minimum, exposure to international investment firms will get us known, how long we have been a country, the stability and our untapped natural resources in Somaliland.

Its important that relevant government agencies collect and present investor information and publish it on regional and international magazines and social media to make sure people know what kind of investment opportunities are available in Somaliland.

It is also important to get the business community involved and educate them on how to connect and be able to effectively present and possibly attract investment into their business but equally important, we need to focus on attracting investment from within Somaliland to jump start robust manufacturing that can lead to more exports and show case our natural resources.