WorldRemit founder challenges De La Rue’s $9.6m Somaliland contract

Through his charity Sahamiye Foundation, Ismail Ahmed warned the contract posed significant economic and legal concerns.

In Summary

•He has asked De La Rue to refund the money paid by the Somaliland government.

•According to Ismail, the new bank notes would double the money in circulation and cause the local currency to lose value against the dollar.

WorldRemit founder and chairman Dr. Ismail Ahmed/FILE
WorldRemit founder and chairman Dr. Ismail Ahmed/FILE

Sahimiye Foundation has called on De La Rue, the world’s biggest printer of banknotes, to cancel a contentious $9.6 million (Sh1.4 billion) contract to print 380billion SL shillings for the Somaliland government.

In an open letter to De La Rue,Sahamiye notes the decision to increase money supply in Somaliland will worsen the economic pain that low income and disadvantaged groups of society are currently experiencing.

The Foundation warned that the new bank notes would double the money in circulation and cause the local currency to lose value against the dollar.

“The highly unusual decision to print money, especially at a time when the country is preparing for presidential elections, is predicted to cause the value of the SL shilling to drop from 8,750 to over 20,000 per dollar,” wrote Ismail Ahmed, Sahamiye’s Founder andDirector.

Ismail further warned that De La Rue’s Somaliland contract posed serious legal and ethical questions.

He noted that there was no competitive bidding nor approval by parliament before De La Rue was awarded the contract.

“I urge you to cancel the contract and return the $9.6 million that the Central Bank of Somaliland sent you to fund the transaction,” he wrote in the letter addressed to De La Rue CEO’s Clive Vacher.

Ismail challenged Clive to take a principled stand given that De La Rue had a history of involvement in corruption scandals and was the subject of several investigations by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office.

Born and raised in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, Ismail is a UK-based techentrepreneur and founder of international money transfer service WorldRemit.

He currently serves as the chairman of WorldRemit.

He founded Sahamiye Foundationin 2021 to promote education and literacy in Somaliland and the Horn of Africa and advocate for policies that foster development.

He in 2021 announced that he would commit more than $500 million (about Sh74.5 billion) of his own wealth to the Foundation, over a period of 10 years.

The Sahamiye Foundation is a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving lives in the Horn of Africa, through better and more accessible education opportunities.

According to the founder, it began with recognising the severe learning crisis in theHorn of Africa, a region facing recurring droughts, conflict and weak government institutions.

"We witnessed first-hand the low literacy rates and lack of access to quality education and felt compelled to take action.With our free language app, Daariz, we are working to improve literacy, foster lifelong learning and unlock the potential of every individual,"Ahmed noted.

It aims to help over one million adults and young people acquire literacy skills in the Somali language, and support over 100,000 people to develope technical and vocational skills for employment and entrepreneurship.

To support innovative approaches to improving infrastructure, it has started by creating programmes and tools to advance literacy, researching ways to better fund public infrastructure, and helping to protect Somalilanders during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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