By Mohamed Abdullahi:
In the past few months the airwaves around Mogadishu were awash and inundated with debates and discussions on the Somali election. The general view among the Somali population including those in the diaspora was that of hope, determination and a feature that more than ever looked bright and herald a new divergence from the old way of doing politics. So as the media aired live footage of the voting, the Somali diaspora held their breath and prayed for a peaceful election.
The Somali election was heavily watched by even the regional countries including Kenya a home to thousands of Somali communities. As the new president was being sworn in, Eastleigh the Nairobi Somali hub burst into celebrations galore till late into the night. Well, amid the celebrations and the congratulatory messages, the in-tray for the president looks already full with high expectations from the general public.
Somalia has been on uninterrupted cycle of conflicts pitting different factions there by completely grounding the country into a state of insecurity. The absence of a strong administration has led to the emergence of armed groups like Al-Shabaab and Isis. These groups have killed thousands in Somalia and in neighboring countries such as Kenya and Uganda.
In 2013, Al-Shabaab attacked the Westgate mall killing 67 people. The seemingly easy ability by which al-Shabaab struck within Mogadishu has often been questioned on the ability of the government to detect likely attacks. The new president Farmajo has to ensure the security system is heavily developed to enhance security and combat the emergence of groups like Al-Shabaab and clan militias. President Farmajo should invest in the intelligence unit and the special anti-terror squad. It’s worth noting that the elections were conducted within the airport perimeter and the capital Mogadishu was in total lockdown to avert any possible attacks.
One of the sectors heavily obliterated by the cycle of conflicts is the infrastructure. The political and economic situation in Somalia in the last two decades has severely affected all sectors in the country, including infrastructure. The devastating civil war that lasted for more than 25 years led to challenges, including high levels of poverty and human deprivation caused by a combination of limited social and physical infrastructure, nascent industrial production and financial sectors, and adverse climatic conditions.
The country experienced general destruction of infrastructure occasioned by years of neglect and the use of heavy military arsenal in the country. The new president should work with the Bretton woods institutions- the World Bank and IMF to access infrastructure projects for the country.
As one of the longest instances of state collapse in recent years, Somalia faces many of the major corruption challenges that affect conflict-torn countries, with rampant corruption and a deeply entrenched patronage system undermining the legitimacy of the internationally recognized Federal Government (FG).
Corruption is further exacerbated by the absence of a functional central government, a lack of resources and administrative capacity, weak leadership structures as well as a limited ability to pay public officials. Both petty and grand forms of corruption are prevalent in Somalia, permeating key sectors of the economy such as ports and airports, tax and custom collection, immigration, telecommunication and management of aid resources.
According to a recent audit report by the Prime Minister’s office, corruption manifests itself through various practices, including gross public financial mismanagement, large scale misappropriation of public and donor funds, unethical and professional negligence, and concealment of actual resource flows. Massive bribery has already marred the electioneering process and the new president is expected to lead an anti-corruption drive to ensure investor confidence is restored.
Many of the Somali population fled Mogadishu immediately the fall of Siad Barre in 1991 and the subsequent wave of clan clashes. However, the return of a stable administration in 2012 had a ripple effect of attracting many of the diaspora community to invest in Mogadishu.
The IMF reported that Somalia’s tides have been changing since 2012, when an internationally-backed government was installed. The Administration of Farmajo should ensure the establishment of incentives for investors and developing investor friendly policies to spark a macroeconomic catapult for the near-failing economy.
Well, Congratulations to President Farmajo. It is our hope you institute the much needed reforms in infrastructure, Health, security among other facets of life. The Somali people bestowed on you the mantle of leadership to reverse the years of neglect the economy has faced and rebuild a formidable armed force to combat the many armed groups including Alshabab.
The writer is an Economist and comments on regional issues. He can be reached on his email Ibnuabdullahi2005@gmail.com