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,
Senior Student
International Horn University

Hargeisa – Somaliland, January 10 2010


  1. Great article, keep up Jama. this is one of the bets articles abour our economy i have ever read.

  2. Well done Jama. U left no stone unturned to present your opinion on how Somaliland could reach economic growth. Keep up the good work. I am happy that we are locally growing bright economists. I feel happy when i see a student who studies local universities and making such analysis.

  3. Well done, Jama. You are a home grown intelect and talented a young with a promising future. I am proud that you are one of our own. It is a great economic analysis article, descriptive and well organized.

    I would add here, Jama, that it is imperative that we also look for an alternative market for our livestock. Putting our eggs in one basket is not the way. We have to learn lessons from our mistakes and not to repeat the same mistakes over again. Saudi Arabia banned our livestock in our worst time ever. There is no guarantee that they wouldn't do it again. We should always have Plan-A and B. So, that if plan-A fails, we should go to plan-B. Besides, the government have to encourage animal breeding and agriculture so that people could produce more and get into sector.

  4. I hate to be a pessimist but for a country to grow economically you need a labour force, let us say the population of Somaliland is around 3.5 million take away the old and the young and the mother raising young children at any one time and remove the illiterate and the unskilled, Iam not suggesting that are economically unproductive but iam trying to make a point that to compete with neighbouring countries that have a larger population and resources we need to educate our people and stop the drain of wealth from the country that is sent by the Diaspora because in the next then year that source of income is going to decrease dramatically as the older generation dies out or ages.

  5. Just to add here, the quality of education is of utmost tool for Sland's socio-political developments, it even matters more for economic growth in terms of producing knowledge workers, skills etc.

    Well analysed, well said, keep it up Jama.

  6. Well done Jame, yes, ideally i agree with you 100%, but practically i am not so sure. But i should not disappoint you, may be if certain economic as wall as political condition are available the economic situation will improve. Also do not forget there are too many hard questions to be answered before practically applying your thought ideas.

    Good job and keep on doing more

  7. Well done Jame, yes, ideally i agree with you 100%, but practically i am not so sure. But i should not disappoint you, may be if certain economic as wall as political conditions are available, the economic situation will improve. Also do not forget there are too many hard questions to be answered before practically applying your thoughtfull ideas.

  8. The somali economy rests on khad just face the facts the private sectore is doing relly good. The problem is the goverment my god what 66% goes to an "army" that doesent exist and our president is making more money then obama!? As long as most somalis keep fighing i'll do as many somalis. Denie that im a somali and say when other ask say im west african. Because the killers are their own neighbours. East africa is growing fast but somalis (somebody kill me) as usual keep fighting for land. I say honor the damn flag and go back to a new federal somalia. Somalilanders are fighting for sumthing that was created by europeans. Even in our bodors states want to break out of somaliland. This cant go one for ever i say one nation one ppl one deen

  9. Before all of yall startiing to jump on me and say the southern part are in caos (partly thrue) remember this war is looming in the eastern parts of somaliland. Many ppl are denied right becease their midgaans.Many of somaliland arguments witch i belived are missleading. Puntland and other areas are booming as well industris in the kapital city and universitys. Remember they are our sisters and brothers i do not want to spread hate. But if we only have more peaceful up here but as incompitent goverment then why arent we trying to put efforts on unitying the hole somalia and if we did that and did unity those 66% for
    "the army" if we even can call that would go to building roads, hospitals, police and other stuff witch are deeply needed. Sorry for my english thanx