Somalia’s Significant Burden

From studying the underlying burdens that affect African statehood, it becomes apparent that societal failures are not limited to a root cause. Instead the infrastructure that allows a nation to assume legitimacy requires a variety of factors that disables a state from functioning properly. These factors range from foreign interference from both state and non-state actors, ethnic conflict, governance rife with corruption, colonial legacies, etc.. However, this understanding of statehood doesn’t understate the fact that depending on the particular state, certain factors have more weight than others. In regards to the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) a substantial hindrance to its ability to act, as a functioning state would be its unsustainable economic system. This infrastructure has largely been informal and rather fluid, in combination due to periods of conflict/ war and its history of nomadism. The lack of a diverse domestic economic system, which provides more than just agricultural products, has had lasting effects on the nation’s ability to generate revenue. In truth the primary sources of income to the nation has been the “provision of money transfers, transport, and telecommunications services.” These remittances are supplied by the significant Somali diaspora across the globe, which supports the fledgling government. The tangible effects of these financial constraints have primarily affected the pervasiveness of violence within the state. The first example being, the high degree of poverty has left a vast lower class and has utterly destroyed the middle class. Conflict bred out of these disenfranchised classes has proved a breeding ground for recruits of extremist groups like Al-Shabaab, which consistently challenge the FGS. Another example would be the lack of resources available to the government has directly affected their ability to maintain defensive measures both within and on its borders. This has led to alternative methods the FGS has used to sustain a useful military force, such as partnering with stronger states. Allying with foreign forces has had its own repercussions that continually challenge the sanctity of Somalia’s sovereign nature.

With this knowledge of Somalia’s economic situation, focusing on the nation’s long-term economic plan would be my suggestion to President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. By doing so, he can lessen the influence that Al-Shabaab has over the narrative which describes the nation of Somalia. Combatting them through a direct contest, such as military conquests and assassinations of leaders only becomes effective to a certain point. The only way to eradicate extreme ideology is through swaying the populace from which the group draws support. Even more importantly, economic improvement can bridge the existing divide between the conflicting states within Somaliland, Puntland, Galmudug, etc… A reasonable starting point for doing this would be continually developing existing and promising relationships with powerful nations. In 2013 the USA recognized the FGS as a nation, as well as a multi-billion dollar international investment was promised to the new government. Receiving investment from the dominant economic powers would provide the necessary diversity to Somalia’s domestic economic infrastructure. A specific region of development that may prove most useful is using the strategic geographic location of Somalia on the Horn of Africa, to gain further support from China and other powers looking to increase their presence in the region.

 

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