While Kenya considers how to deal with the hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees it has hosted for more than two decades, Somali trade and business in Kenya appears to be booming, with links to a wider global diaspora and trade hubs in the Middle East and Asia. Nairobi’s Eastleigh has become symbolic of this boom, as it has rapidly transformed into an important Eastern African trade hub. But, several other urban areas of Kenya have seen similar Somali-spurred developments and changes in the urban landscape. This development is not without controversy.
The Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology and the University of Oxford hosted an interdisciplinary conference on Saturday 27 September 2014 that brought together researchers and practitioners who have worked in Eastleigh and other urban centres in Kenya, to discuss a series of questions about urbanisation and migration, integration and conflict, and the peculiarities of Somali trade networks.