Shelter from the storm: Somali migrant networks in Uganda between international business and regional geopolitics

This article charts the emergence and the developments of Somali migrant networks in Uganda’s capital Kampala. It asks why, in recent years, the country has become home to a growing number of Somalis, and examines how migrants’ strategies are played out against a backdrop shaped by the interaction of transnational connections, the securitisation of refugee policies in Kenya and regional economic opportunities. In so doing, it focusses on Somali-owned businesses operating across the region, the Ugandan engagement in AMISOM and the collaborations between the Ugandan intelligence and Somali associations in the country. It argues that Somali refugees, students and entrepreneurs see Uganda as both a safe haven and a stepping stone for upward social mobility and business expansion toward other parts of the region. It identifies and teases out the critical pull factors that have reshaped Somali mobility patterns across East Africa and Uganda; more notably, pre-existing diasporic linkages with the Somali community in Uganda; Uganda’s welcoming refugee policies; and the ease of travel to neighbouring countries and to Somalia.