A Somaliland Story

SONY DSCIt’s not often that our grantees feature on national TV, but that’s what happened at the official opening ceremony of RLabs Somaliland in Borama. Last year, we awarded RLabs a grant of £11,100 towards the cost of establishing a tech hub in the de facto independent state of Somaliland. When the grant was awarded, RLabs Somaliland was little more than an idea aimed at encouraging entrepreneurship, tackling unemployment and promoting tech skills.

Since then, RLabs Somaliland have made impressive progress. Not only have they sourced the software and hardware necessary for the running of the lab, they have also found a suitable and accessible space in the city of Borama. Most excitingly, however, the lab now has a manager and two trainers to ensure that they can actually deliver the training courses that are so desperately needed by Somaliland’s youth. Although the centre has only been open for a few weeks now, it’s already proving popular and the team hope to be able to offer more services in the coming weeks.

Despite the progress that the Somaliland team have made, it hasn’t all been plain sailing. Negotiating ways around astronomical electricity bills, expensive commercial software licences and finding an appropriate site for the lab were just some of the difficulties that the team faced. Fortunately, however, when it comes to talent, Somaliland seems to have it in bucketloads. 100 people with IT or management degrees applied to work at the lab – there’s clearly no shortage of talent in Somaliland and we’re hopeful that RLabs will be able to open up and develop some of the entrpreneurial spirit there.