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Young refugee returnees and IDPs get jobs bringing cheap solar power to Kismayu

Friday March 22, 2019

A solar-energy and employment investment programme is opening pathways for reintegration for young refugee returnees, as well as introducing affordable energy to the southern Somali city of Kismayu.

Twelve young people, drawn from among the refugees returned from Dadaab in Kenya and from Kismayu’sIDP camps, have opened up businesses in town selling solar equipment, after completing a four-week training course in solar installation.

The project is being implemented by an NGO, Human Development Concern (HDC), with funding from the UN’s Development Programme (UNDP).  It aims to provide skills and investment opportunities to young people and to serve the local community.

Yusuf Abdi Mohamed has opened a shop called Dayax in Kimayu’sKibora market, along with two young women. The three of them completed the solar skills training course and were given a loan of $8,000 to invest in their own business.

After finishing high school in Dadaab, Yusuf could not get a job so he returned to Kimayu under a voluntary repatriation scheme. He and his family were living in a hut made of cartons and sticks because he could not find employment in the town.

Dayax has already sold 60 solar panels, 40 batteries, and 60 other solar accessories since January. Yusuf has been able to move to a decent rented house and can afford to pay $40 school fees for his six siblings.

Yusuf and his colleagues are paid a salary of $300 each and on top of that manage to put away $30-$40 profit a day from the shop into a savings account.

The deputy head of DHC in Kismayu, Abdiaziz Adan, said the programme was the first of its kind. The introduction of solar equipment and the skills to install it will bring many people cheap electricity, he said.

Aisha Ali Salah, one of the eight women trained, is now working with Basi Group Company selling solar panels and accessories in Farjano in Kismayu.

“We got the investment fund from HDC and rented a shop, which we stocked with solar products. Since I started working at the shop, my life has changed dramatically,” said Aisha, who has two children.

Since she returned to Somalia from Dadaab in 2016, she was selling vegetables in a local market in Kismayu earning around $6 a day. She is happy with the $300 a month she is now earning.

Adan MursalAdowand his family fled Jamaame district in Lower Jubba in 2003, following severe drought. They have been living in an IDP camp in Kismayu.

Now that he is also earning a living from solar installations, Adan has built an iron-roofed shelter and been able to provide for his family.

“My two siblings have started school and I have solved the needs of my family. The salary I earn is much better than what I used to get when I was doing tailoring,” he said.

A similar solar installation training programme has been implemented in Mogadishu.


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