The United Kingdom has announced plans to host a trade and investment conference for Somalia in London during a planned security meeting to be held there in May, the UK Minister for Africa, Mark Simmonds, said Thursday.
Simmonds said at a meeting with Somali residents in London that the security improvements in Somalia had opened up new and exciting business opportunities there.
"Many diaspora organisations are already going back to invest. We want to encourage that, and also to demonstrate to non-Somali UK businesses the opportunities that exist across South Central Somalia, Puntland and Somaliland," Simmonds said at the meeting with the Somalis.
"Today I announced that we will be holding a major trade and investment event aimed at supporting inward investment into Somalia," the minister said.
The minister, accompanied by local MP Angie Bray, visited Ealing on 26 March to meet members of London's Somali community to hear from young Somalis about their hopes and aspirations for Somalia, and their objectives for the upcoming Somalia Conference in May.
The discussion was organised with the support of the Anti-Tribalism Movement.
"I am inspired by the dedication, commitment and passion I see among the Somali diaspora. The Somali diaspora have a vital role to play in the reconstruction of Somalia as it begins to emerge from 20 years of conflict," Simmonds said.
The UK's Somali community play an active role in helping Somalia to recover from the conflict, famine and insecurity, the minister said.
For years, the diaspora have supported family members back home, and helped raise money for charitable causes in Somalia.
Now that security and political conditions are improving, many are going back to help with reconstruction and redevelopment and UK officials say positive steps are already being undertaken to bring stability to Somalia.
"The security improvements allow more and more Somalis to return home and make a difference for their people. This is leading to a palpable sense of optimism, especially in Mogadishu, and we are keen to support that," the minister said.