It’s not usual to hear positive stories come out of Ħal Safi’s detention centre, but one Togolese asylum seeker with a knack for tech has proven that people can thrive if given the chance to.
Jacob Yakubu Romanu arrived in Malta in 2007 in his early twenties, by boat as an asylum seeker. His journey began when a friend’s TV in the detention centre broke down, and Yakubu was asked to try to repair it. Luckily, he did, and the rest was history.
Known as the Togolese technician, Romanu soon found himself travelling across the islands, repairing electronics and selling the odd mobile cover. Soon, business got so busy he decided to take it to the next level with a physical store.
After spotting a former charity shop in Ħamrun, he turned to Malta Microfinance, an NGO that helps people with little access to traditional banks to fund life projects.
Today, Jacob’s tech store is a staple feature on main street Ħamrun, with its blue facades, twinkling gadgets in the window displays and his welcoming demeanour. Romanu welcomes every customer with a warm smile and greeting in English, Togolese, Arabic and even Maltese.
He’s now hoping to receive residency in Malta, so that he can plant his roots here after thirteen years of living in limbo, because of his status as an asylum seeker.
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