by Bashir Duale
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Somalia: I am an optimist by nature; consequently this piece is about Hope; Human and Institutional Capacity Building and Diaspora Engagement. Just imagine with me for a moment Somalia on the cusp of being free, democratic and developing nation.
Messages of Hope
After arriving Mogadishu Congressman Keith Ellison announced “We are at a critical juncture for the people of Somalia and their families in Minnesota and throughout the United States. The election of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and a renewed U.S. relationship may be our best opportunity in decades to ensure peace and stability for the Somali people, and combat terrorism in the region. This visit provided an unparalleled opportunity to learn firsthand about issues facing the country, and the role the United States plays in promoting a stable Somalia.” I am indeed hopeful and encouraged by this statement.
Few days later USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah also visited Mogadishu to reassure President Mahamud and promised continued support for Somalia. Administrator Shah remarked “the foundation of solid governance is accountability and transparency; we look forward to supporting the Government of Somalia’s efforts to fight corruption, build democratic institutions, and respond to the needs of its people. The United States also assists the Government of Somalia’s legislative and executive functions, including rebuilding the capacity of local institutions that provide basic services, enhancing the rule of law, and supporting improved service delivery for the regional and local administrations across Somalia”. The report from Somalia for the last few months is pretty clear- it is rapidly becoming a stable and secure nation. Moreover, it is not surprising that expats who visited Mogadishu recently will tell tales of the investors building hotels and shops, housing boom and public works. The task of nation building is daunting, but this time it feels different. Progress can now be seen clearly as both Congressman Ellison and Administrator Shah formally brought a message of hope; peace and build democratic institutions to the people of Somalia.
Human and Institutional Capacity Emerging Lessons
The first lesson relates to the fact that a comprehensive and well targeted technical assistance plan combined with support for building state capacity and accountability is essential in sustaining the recovery processes of post conflict states. Second, condition of technical assistance and capacity building is essential in reviving service delivery and in ensuring effective implementation. And third, the plan shall also involve contracting of private sector entities and deployment of experts from the Diaspora to carry out critical public sector functions, such as accounting, auditing and procurement and in undertaking knowledge building and research. To this end, the aim is to bolster and retain capacities in technical assistance, including the Diaspora to provide training to country staff and ensure that skills are transferred as part of their activities and outputs. There is a large pool of qualified technical experts in the Diaspora who are committed to country development. These professionals would foster networks according to critical areas of support and help connect them to the government. Diaspora experts and networks shall be recruited on both short-term and long-term basis to undertake assignments, such as performing public sector functions as well as private industry in collaboration with newly recruited country staff. In the end Somali’s should be expected to facilitate capacity building and get it right in order to ensure that the US support is practical and efficient.
The Role of Diaspora
State building in an environment of post conflict requires urgent measures in the national reconstruction, rehabilitation and economic growth process. It is against this backdrop, that African governments are increasingly recognizing the importance of their citizens abroad or the ‟ Diaspora‟ in national and regional development. In light of the fact that the Diaspora can play a central role in recovery and reconstruction of fragile states, the aim here is to elaborate on the available experiences both regionally and globally; drawing lessons from experiences in involving Diaspora in building domestic institutional capacity; what measures are necessary in implementing national frameworks aimed at strengthening governance, reconstruction and sustainable development.
Imagine how China, Korea, India and most recently Tunisia have shown that Diaspora contributions can significantly help to transform economies. The approaches adopted by these nations point to country-driven initiatives that are built on shared development objectives between the government and the Diaspora, and underlined by comprehensive policies, administrative structures and incentives to encourage an enabling environment for mobilizing Diaspora resources including expertise, investments, entrepreneurship and corporate affiliations centered in critical growth. The Techs’ from Diaspora could help in engaging and encouraging potential US investors in Public Private Partnership. The Diaspora should be considered not just as sources of technical assistance and financing, but as development partners. A stronger relationship between the Government of Somalia and the Diaspora built on reputation and integrity is therefore fitting and vital. The deployment of highly skilled experts residing in the Diaspora, to support recovery efforts is strong foundation for building sustainable and effective institutions. The return of the Diaspora could lead to an emerging market with plenty of purchasing power and capacity to contribute real and sustainable growth to the economy.
The belief that the future will be much better than the past and present is known as optimism, thus, it is my hope that Somalia is back on the path of being stable; secure and responding to the needs of the people- with good governance; accountability and transparency.
Bashir I. Duale- Agricultural Economist