CAIRO – Somalia shared the vision for the evolution of the digital economy, telling delegates to the 48th session of the Arab Labour Conference that there’s a need for a league-wide policy to facilitate its smooth growth.
The conference which opened in Cairo on September 18, and is attended by all members states of the Arab League, including Somalia, is an annual gathering of high-level stakeholders to discuss the issues of work and workers in the Arab countries.
Led by the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, MP Bihi Iman Cige, the tripartite delegation from Somalia includes the federal government, the Federation of Somali Trade Unions FESTU and the Somali Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
This year’s conference is reflecting on the digital economy in the new world of work and its implications for both workers and employers; especially the changed environment that the digital economy brings to the workplace.
Minister Bihi Iman Egeh briefed the meeting on how Somalia is developing its digital economy which is growing vibrantly with a strong influence on its neighbors in the Horn of Africa.
Hon. Egeh, who is accompanied by the Director General of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, Abdullahi Mohamed Ali, called for a unified policy across the Arab League that comprehensively facilitates the safe operation of the digital economy and protects workers’ rights to ensure they are not eroded by digital migration or the substitution of labour with technology.
The use and migration to the digital economy is expected to facilitate business, making it easier for the country’s economy to grow, said Minister Bihi Iman Egeh, adding that there is a need to use the digital economy as a tool for rapid and widespread job creation to fight unemployment.
The General Secretary of the Federation of Somali Trade Unions of FESTU, Omar Faruk Osman, who is part of the country’s tripartite delegation to the Arab Labour Conference, emphasized the need to embrace the digital economy without any compromising the longstanding interests of workers especially the right to organize under trade unions.
Osman observed that while the transition to the digital economy is already happening and has mutual benefits there is a need to protect the rights of workers from new threats of becoming jobless.
“We need to understand early how the digital economy is shaping up and anticipate to make provisions for the negative impacts it might have on the welfare of workers and their social security,” Osman said.
The Somali delegation was welcomed in Cairo by Somali ambassador to Egypt, who is also the head of Somalia’s permanent mission to the Arab League, Ambassador Ilyas Sheikh Omar.
Ambassador Omar briefed the delegation on how Somalia can maximise outcomes this meeting, preparing the Minister and his delegation to engage in discussions with other delegations from Arab countries.