Strengthening Somalia’s digital economy: The key role of technology

At the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2018 (PP-18), Mohammed Ibrahim, the Head of the National ICT & Digital Economy Office (NIDEO) in Somalia, discussed how his organization is working to strengthen the role of Internet-enabled services and how this will help the country achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“We’re on the private-sector side, so we’re trying to help the country to understand about the new digital economy, all this mobile money, cryptocurrency, blockchain – that kind of technologies… we’re trying to raise awareness about this new digital economy,” explained Mr Ibrahim.

Mr Ibrahim is confident in the role of ICTs to improve lives in Somalia, and the world.

“My focus now has shifted more towards what the technology can do to make the world a better place,” he says. “We want to see what [it can] deliver to the citizens, in terms of government, in terms of education, in all those areas.”
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So, how is Somalia using technology to achieve the SDGs?

“The Somali government is doing hard work in this area,” Mr Ibrahim explained. “Through its Ministry, through its ICT industry, a tremendous amount of work is happening… But there was always a secret about Somalia: that we were well connected. Although we went through 20 years of challenges, nevertheless technology-wise, we were fine. We are way ahead in terms of the developing countries when it comes to [being] connected. Of course we want to do more, we want to move forward.”
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“The government, through its ministry, they do a lot of hard work. Somalia came a long way. We’re more or less on a fast track to be part of the SDGs… I think it’s doable. I think it’s measurable. I think it’s more focused and I’m very optimistic it can be done,” believes Mr Ibrahim.

Mr Ibrahim has been an ITU delegate, in various roles, throughout the past 30 years. As he explains, ITU’s role in building consensus in the technology sector is as relevant today as ever.

“There’s a lot of good things happening. The ITU, 193 members, 700 institutions, a huge institution, so I feel happy that with all that structure the ITU can still deliver without ever voting. It’s always [through] consensus,” he said. “So I take my hat off, to see a team that can actually do this. So with that positive note I really want to say: ‘Look, the Plenipotentiary this year is a fantastic way forward.’ ”

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