In my previous article I have discussed about the current political issues in the country. However today, I would like to give you an overview about Somaliland’s limited economy, our expectations in 2010 and areas we have to improve to achieve economic growth – this is my view.
Clearly every year has its ups and downs and 2010 is no exception. It is our economy that we need to reshape and regulate the most more than any other sector from what I have observed as an undergraduate in economics. We need to make use of the little we have, which I think would have taken us so far if we plan carefully. Though at the same time we had many challenges that hindered our economic development for the last decade or so.
The worst challenge was Saudi Arabia’s sanction on our livestock. Fortunately, that is over now as the sanction is lifted after 11-years. Thus we need to be cautious about our economy’s backbone market and try to avoid them getting any excuse to ban our livestock again. This includes inspecting all ships that are to carry out livestock to the Arabian Kingdom, because it is possible someone could sabotage us by loading sick animals on the ship prior to it’s arrival then mixing it with our animals.
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This will create cross-contamination, we need to clearly mark all our animals, keep proper data, before loading them on the ship, send all data including the weight of all animals to Saudi Arabia, so this way if someone tamped with our animals, we can just look back at the record on certain animal in question including it’s weight. If the data is wrong then we know it came from else where.
We need to do every thing to protect our market, there are a lot of people who would be more than happy to see the sanction being imposed on Somaliland. We have to be vigilant.
The second greatest source of our economy is the remittance money from our kind and helpful Somalilanders in abroad. According to last year’s statistics, from Money transfer agencies, this money has reduced as a result of the global economic crises which has hardly hit the western countries where most of it used to flow from.
So it is time for us to change our mind and think of more reliable and sustainable sources of income. You will feel uncomfortable when you see more than 70% of our families are dependent on abroad for survival.
I would like to argue the Diaspora to think again. What if they help the family start a small business for living? This will not only relief the Diaspora, but also help the family members to be self-employed. Imagine a 35 year old person who has never done any work! Of course, waiting for others to feed.
A Chinese proverb says “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime”. To put it more simply I think that we will learn from experience and plan for tomorrow, not only for today.
Another sector where we are very much behind is the agriculture, we have fertile soil, water can be found but we never consider mass producing our own food, except very few individuals. We need to become food self-sufficient. We need to call on people to utilise the available resources to achieve the common objective in agriculture because we have seen how badly we have been knocked by the global food crises in the last two years.
To go bit far, for the last few years we have witnessed impressive development in the private sector economy in our country. However, the only problem one can point is that it is unregulated, unplanned and unbalanced growth. You will see overcrowding in some sectors (i.e. telecommunication), while more profitable and urgently needed sectors are ignored.
We should not also forget to remind ourselves that we have to encourage our small industries to grow. How? Individuals should buy the local products; the government should restrict imports on domestically produced goods and materials.
Recently, I was comparing the locally produced soft drinks with that from international major firms. During my observation I have discovered that they are similar in price, the public consumes more of the foreign drinks, though the domestic one might be better of quality! So we need to be more realistic, the locally produced products should be cheaper.
Here comes again another touching phenomenon. Hey Somalilanders! in the second decade of the 21st century we need not to be the most corrupted country in the world and yet wait to develop and recognition. Putting it more simply there has to be transparency and accountability, in every activity we are doing, be it government and public. Opportunities to do so should be sought out and taken advantage of wherever and whenever possible.
To conclude, economically we need to be creative, make use of opportunities and plan ahead. Otherwise “if we fail to plan we plan to fail”. We have to prepare today to afford the improvements of tomorrow. Our budget should be more of a development-centred.
You only have to check our 45 million budget for last year, just to see that there is no single percent for development! I hope that in 2010, we will be able to improve these and many other areas where I didn’t mention here either for my short-sightedness or otherwise.
Jama Ismail Noor,
International Horn University
Hargeisa – Somaliland, January 10 2010