Former refugees launch university in Somaliland
Drawn by better governance and investment opportunities, Africans across the diaspora are increasingly returning to their home countries.
Almis Yahye Ibrahim remembers when he and his friends hit on the idea of building a university in one of the world's most neglected corners, the breakaway republic of Somaliland.Skip to next paragraph
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It was the winter of 1997, and they were hanging out in Helsinki's cafes, keeping the Finnish winter at bay. That's when they dreamt up the International Horn University.
Four years ago, armed with diplomas and savings and driven by a desire to make a difference, the three men and another friend who had been in Malaysia returned home to build their dream. The towering university now stands in Somaliland's hilly capital Hargeisa.
"It was not an easy decision to leave all that and return to a totally destroyed country wrecked by civil war."
Investments by returning refugees provide a lifeline to millions in Somaliland, which does not receive any direct foreign aid as it is not recognized internationally.
This trend of Africans returning home to do business is taking tentative hold in several sub-Saharan countries.
As nations shake off war, adopt better governance, and cash in on a commodities boom, former refugees and other members of the African diaspora are coming back, drawn by patriotism and investment opportunities in a region which the International Monetary Fund expects to grow by 6.5 percent this year.
"The returnees have transformed Somaliland," said Abdullahi Ali, who drives a taxi for a returning refugee in Hargeisa.