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Mohamud Mohamed Ismail

MSc Geospatial Data Analysis, University College Dublin

Mohamud was awarded a fellowship in 2020 on the Ireland-Africa Fellows Programme. He has been working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation as the Manager to the Office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. 

I feel like I have been given a golden chance in a very unique situation where the world is dealing with the pandemic. To me, this shows how committed the Irish Government and its people are to contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Before coming to Ireland, I was a civil servant at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Federal Government of Somalia. I was responsible for daily office activities like organising bilateral meetings, minute-taking, preparing monthly progress reports and planning the annual foreign policies of the country. 

I chose the MSc Geospatial Data Aalysis (GIS and Remote Sensing) as it was my favourite topic during my undergraduate studies. Also, prior to joining the civil service, I was working with international NGOs that analyse and produce maps using spatial data. I enjoy using this software, which is a global emerging method of visualising, capturing, manipulating and analysing geospatial data. It is also one of the highest employability fields globally.  

I feel like I have been given a golden chance in a very unique situation where the world is dealing with the pandemic. To me, this shows how committed the Irish Government and its people are to contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), regardless of any circumstance the country may face. As a fellow, I must play my role and commit to the Fellowship by studying hard. We are studying online which is a bit strange and difficult. We have tried to interact with students remotely to exchange and discuss assignments and thoughts. We also sometimes have conversations about our different cultures and backgrounds. 

I am studying at University College Dublin, one of the leading universities in Ireland in terms of quality, diversity and cultural experience. I have gained from practical experience at UCD through advanced labs. I have also been able to benefit from the alumni team who currently work with some of the big companies in the field, for example ESRI. The alumni host guest lectures to share the real world experiences they have gained, show how we can adjust our learning to suit the current job market trends and demonstrate updated versions of software and the customised packages which will help us in the real work. 

It was wonderful coming to Ireland, particularly in late summer, as there is good weather and nice, welcoming people. Even though it is a challenging time as people are dealing with the pandemic, I have adjusted easily. The weather might be a bit cold compared to my home country, but I was prepared early by constant guidance and support from the ICOS team. Ireland is full of wonderful places but due to the pandemic we can’t visit many or interact with the community and explore the secrets of remote areas. Still, I have managed to meet friends and engage to share experiences. 

Since Somalia introduced skilled labour for the new technological use of GIS and remote sensing, the country is able to tackle many challenges, such as the lack of proper data collection and analysis to inform decision makers. In addition, the country will be able to actively contribute towards the SDGs, for example, reduction of the poverty level, the provision of clean energy and safe water. The topic I am studying is quite unique and rare knowledge in my country. The government will be able to update all its data into spatial data using the experience and knowledge I have gained in Ireland. This will help to transfer the skills to other civil servants. Currently the data gap is the most challenging issue in the government, so it will ease the burden as the number of skilled personnel increases due to the Fellowship programme, skills transfer and workshops.   

My thesis topic is “Impacts of climate change on the coastal community livelihoods – Somalia”. I believe this topic will at least draw attention to those people affected and encourage both the government and international organisations to intervene with both policy and humanitarian assistance. Due to COVID-19, my research will be conducted remotely. 

On returning home, I am sure my work will be improved as a result of the experiences and the knowledge gained from Ireland and UCD. I expect my work performance and productivity to increase and hopefully I will be promoted to a higher position. I aim to become a GIS and remote sensing expert with an end to establishing a centre for the provision of spatial data to Somalia’s commercial and government agencies. The main ambition of this work is to expand the network of information sharing, knowledge and skill transfer.  

I would definitely recommend the Fellowship programme as a means of experiencing the advanced knowledge of Ireland and exploring the rich culture of Irish people. The Ireland-Africa Fellows Programme offers an opportunity for people to bridge their knowledge. It is also a chance for those who didn’t get to advance their careers due to financial obstacles. I am eager to assist those interested in applying to the programme.