A growing ITC sector offers job creation
Photo: Agnes Nygren
Smartec develop skills of world class while creating jobs in the technical service industry.
It’s four in the afternoon as we arrive to the store of Ahmed Amin. The shop has just opened again after the customary Somali mid-day siesta break. Although born in Somaliland Ahmed’s accent is distinctly British. He moved to the UK at an early age where he acquired experience of running several businesses, this is thus his first venture at his place of birth.
“The technology and smartphone sector is growing steadily so I knew there was a market demand for higher standards technical services. As a Telecom Engineer I also knew how important it was to utilize my network in establishing partnerships with world leaders in this sector”, Ahmed says.
A skills training centre was opened in May 2016 and with a little assistance from SSBP, particularly in the training facility being established, he intends to expand the service across the region. Today his whole family has relocated to Somaliland. His three children, all born in Wales, are adjusting well to their new home.
Smartek is so far employing ten young people, staffing both the Sales shop itself as well as the Workshop where the repairs are carried out. Demand is growing as more people acquire latest smartphones.
"When we first opened the shop we have been handling a handful number of repairs a month. Obviously, the numbers have increased since, partly because of the unique services we offer at Smartek. We’re striving to put the standards up in the technical service industry in the region. For instance, just a few days ago I had a customer who had tried to have his phone repaired in Italy without success. It took us only 30 minutes to fix his phone, Ahmed says with a smile."
The ambition for Smartek does however not stop at the one shop. Together with an international partner the centre plans to offer three to six months courses on smartphone, phablet and tablet repairs.
The first 15 students will likely become Smartek’s own employees.
"It’s a way to offer skills development to young people. The first 15 students will likely become Smartek’s own employees. The training facility is in the vicinity to where the second shop will soon be opened; once the courses are done the facility can also be utilized as an additional workshop, Ahmed explains."
Smartek will cover all student’s course fees and transportation costs for those who live outside Hargeisa. The course will eventually deliver an internationally recognized certification on technical repairs and Ahmed hopes to be able to commercialize the courses in the future.
The course fits well with the technological advancements that indeed the country and the region are well known for. Money transfers via cell phones have existed far longer here than in Europe and Somaliland was the first country in the world to introduce iris detection as way of identification in its last election.
Our biggest challenge has been the recruitment of women participants.
"You see, several youngsters do have higher education but there is no labor market for them. This way, we can give them both experience and a specific skill. Our biggest challenge has been the recruitment of women participants. In the first round of applications we only had three women applying, Ahmed says"
Ahmed strives to change the image of technology and to attract more young women to the courses but also to his business; which he intends to turn into a franchise business.
The future for Smartek looks bright. If all goes as planned, Ahmed hopes to employ at least 25 people and to expand his business to the wider region, including Mogadishu within the coming year.