The Somaliland business community is mobilising support from the locals, the diaspora, the region and the international community to help raise funds to rebuild the expansive Waheen market in the capital Hargeisa that was razed to the ground in the weekend with an estimated cost of over US Dollars 2 billion lost in the inferno.
The business community has already contributed substantial funds towards reconstruction efforts of the market, considered one of the largest and busiest in the horn of Africa.
And the Somaliland community in Kenya has been quick to react to calls to mobilise funds to help rebuild the market.
Kenya hosts a huge number of Somaliland community some of whom have also been affected by the losses in the market that serves the Horn of Africa and beyond.
The community will meet on Sunday to hold a fundraising event that has been organised in collaboration with the Somaliland representative office in Nairobi.
The entire Waheen market and the surrounding business district was razed to the ground, with thousands of businesspeople losing their livelihoods.
Many of the traders in the market had financial links with other parts of the world including the Gulf, China, Asia and Europe.
Also affected were women who ran small businesses.
The cost of rebuilding the infrastructure and destroyed businesses is believed to be $5 billion with the government and the business community now rallying for support from across the globe.
The tragedy struck when the region is suffering one of the worst droughts in decades, recording the driest season in 40 years. It came on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan, a period when traders import huge quantities of food and other goods, all of which have been lost
It is feared that from the tragedy, the city and its environs will face a severe shortage of food and other commodities which was already being felt due to the war in Ukraine.
Key leaders who showed sympathy with Somaliland include British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who said his government will assist in the rebuilding process and called on those with good will to help.
“It is our hope that the international community will take cue from the British Prime minister’s appeal and help in the reconstruction effort,” said Dahabshiil Chief Executive Officer Abdirashid Duale who is leading in the mobilisation of the business community to raise funds.
Dahabshiil Group of Companies which includes the largest money transfer company in Africa has worked closely with the small micro enterprises that operated in the market by offering financial services to them.
Mr Duale, who visited the scene of the fire, said: “I am devastated that so many have lost their livelihoods inferno, it is time we came together to rebuild the market. As Dahabshiil, we will do all we can to help all those who have been affected.”
In an interview with the BBC, Mr Duale said the economic impact of the tragedy was massive.
“The government has estimated the loss to be around $2 billion. I believe it could be more than that because thousands of people, from Hargeisa to the border with Ethiopia to the port city of Berbera and beyond, depended on that market. It was a regional hub serving the entire Horn of Africa”.
He said Dahabshiil, Dahabshil Bank, eDahab and the company’s other financial services would waive all fees for anyone contributing funds towards the rebuilding of the business district. Money sent to Dahabshiil’s special fundraising account is being managed by an independent committee which will make sure the assistance will go to the right people, especially those hit hardest by the fire.
Mr Duale said there was an urgent need to have more fire stations in Hargeisa and other cities and towns.
He said any reconstruction should take health and safety into account, with firefighting and other rescue equipment on hand. He said all businesses should invest in such lifesaving equipment and ensure staff were properly trained so they could fight back against any future fires.