When I met regional heads of state during this month’s IGAD summit in Djibouti my message was clear – buoyant trade is crucial to peace and development.

To put it simply, if people trade within and across borders, communication channels are more likely to stay open and there is a common interest in internal and regional stability. For trade to thrive, people have to talk to each other and to trust each other, no matter their ethnicity or nationality.

Speaking from experience, the business community, including Dahabshiil which has been in in the remittance industry, can play a crucial role in increasing development which in return will reduce conflict and instability.
Under the stewardship of Executive Secretary H.E. Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu whose term was extended during the Heads of Government Assembly, IGAD has been highlighting the importance of issues like remittances in addition to its core role of promoting peace, prosperity and regional integration. I welcome IGAD’s recognition of the central part remittances play in livelihoods and development. As we all know, money sent from loved ones abroad outstrips development aid.

During our meeting, Dr Workneh emphasised to me the essential role of the private sector in the development of the IGAD region.

I look forward to the day when business leaders participate in IGAD and similar summits at the same level as the diplomatic and political community because they will bring a different perspective and accelerate progress in our region despite its challenges

The devastating effects of the recent recurring drought and floods have highlighted how our region is one of the hardest hit by climate change although we produce some of the lowest carbon emissions globally.

Governments, international partners and the business community must work closely to think ahead and prepare for what are bound to be further environmental calamities. If the region’s key players cooperate, each pooling their best skills and know-how, I believe innovative solutions can be found to reducing the impact of climate change which pushes ever growing numbers of people in the region to seek better lives abroad.

Global institutions, including commercial, non-profit and humanitarian, should work more with local companies both small and large to create job opportunities which will increase peace and development, and, in turn, reduce illegal migration within the region as well as externally. This will also attract more diaspora members to come back home as well as those from other countries seeking rewarding and exciting work and investment opportunities.

I was delighted to meet so many foreign and international delegations at the summit. I hope that they too will integrate more fully responsible business leaders in the region into their activities in the greater Horn of Africa as they are crucial to economic development, community cohesion and political stability.

The presence at the summit of such a wide range of high-ranking delegations, including the US, China, the European Union, Japan, the African Union and the United Nations, highlights the growing importance of the region’s place in the world, especially in terms of geopolitics and trade. The rapid development of ports, roads and other big infrastructure projects across the greater Horn of Africa are testament to its ever increasing role as a key trading hub both regionally and internationally.

As the CEO of Dahabshiil Group, which has multiple activities across the region, I have been impressed with the rapidity of the growth of air, rail, road and sea routes, and the extraordinary development and innovation in financial and telecommunications services. Continued investment in such services and infrastructure can only lead to faster development as it enables more fluid movement of information, goods and people, especially when regional integration is fully achieved.

Abdirashid Duale is the CEO of the Dahabshiil Group which offers financial, telecommunication and other services, and invests in trade. Its network has a presence across IGAD nations and more than 110 other countries.

Nairobi news