By Mohamed Haji Peso
National leadership is a delicate balance of negotiating the operation of systems and simultaneously building the trust of people. Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has been in office since 2012 and initially generated international support. In fact the New Somalian deal supported by European donors was approximately $2.4 billion dollars (Bahadur, 2014).Since that time however, a letter generated from the U.N. Monitoring Group has blamed the President and a Maryland law firm Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy, & Ecker of inappropriately diverting assets. The assets were originally to be returned to the Central Bank of Somalia (CBS), after being stored in overseas accounts (Bahadur, 2014).The result has been a chain of events that has eroded the credibility of the Somali government in the eyes of the international community. Inevitably the international concerns reflect the growing mistrust by the Somali people.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as the leader of the government must simultaneously shoulder the blame and provide solutions to ease the concerns of the people.
In July 2013, the UN Monitoring Group expressed concern that CBS was essentially a shell company that housed government funds. According to the report the funds were subsequently used to facilitate corrupt political dealings. This mistrust was further fueled by the successive resignation of two Central Bank governors (CBG) (Bahadur, 2014).
The first was the resignation of Abdulsalam Omer who was the CBG when the thirty seven page letter submitted by the UN monitoring group first came to light. Omer’s replacement was a Somalia female CBG named Yussur Abrar. Abrar who was formerly of Citigroup claimed political intrusion had limited her ability to operate effectively in the position. She subsequently resigned less than two months later citing concern for her personal safety (Bahadur, 2014).The embedded mistrust of the Somalia government is further fueled by the Shulman Rogers contract which has been renewed in 2013. The initial intent of hiring the law firm in 2010 was for the recovery of overseas assets. However, according to at least one report the World Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative had created an opportunity for mitigating costs associated with recovery. The assets with a projected valuation of more than one hundred million had been held by UBS accounts in the U.S. and Switzerland, Citibank, Bank of America, and Chase.
However other articles suggest that despite such reports the Somalia government’s strategic moves are proving beneficial. For example one international partnership with Turkey has helped to facilitate the rebuilding of the airport and seaport. This is critical as revenue generated from the airport and seaport help sustain the economy. Mogadishu the capital has historically been inundated with war and political infighting. According to President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud the world class Aden Abdulle Osman airport is projected to be completed by 2015 (Billow, 2014).
Positive signs of the impact of such moves include the removal of Mogadishu’s airport from the Zone 5 list. This list includes airports that create various safety risks to aircraft crew and travelers. As a result of Zone 5 removal Turkish Airlines has begun weekly flights to Mogadishu. Further the Al Bayrak Turkish Firm is in the process of revitalizing the Mogadishu seaport. The goal of the revitalization project will be to integrate new technology into the cargo hub. This is beneficial in meeting both meeting international standards and attracting educated Somalia youth (Billow, 2014).
Further, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and the Government are creating security for the business community. With the African Union providing security over the last few years Somalia’s business community is expanding trade. Business people have attested to the growing stability of Mogadishu over the past few years. This has resulted in population growth and an increase of investor interest. The international partnership with Turkey is also providing opportunities for improved roads, banks, educational facilities, health care organizations, and hotels (Billow, 2014).
In order to truly lead the nation of Somalia President Mohamud will need to continue to build such critical partnerships. Partnerships that bolster the economy through infrastructure development and various initiatives are vitally important. By strengthening the infrastructure of Mogadishu and other key cities a shift in the perception of Somalia is inevitable. The international community gains confidence in the stability of the country and that is an attractive proposition to potential investors. For example the removal of the Zone 5 label from the airport led to more flights into Mogadishu.
In addition the President should consider a few recommendations. One idea is to launch the United Federal military including the army and navy. Another idea would be the restructuring of the Central bank so that it is no longer viewed as corrupt. This strategy would include attracting educated Somalia youth to work at the bank. Also the establishment of the federal intelligence agency would be ideal. Finally it is recommended that there be the restoration and launching of the National unity campaign. This process includes visiting all states and tribes and receiving national commitment. In this the President will win the hearts and minds of the people and inspire transformative hope.
Mohamed Mohamud is an MBA Student at Evergreen State College.
Bahadur, J. (2014, September 22). The President’s Bank: corruption allegations tarnish Somalia’s brave new world. Retrieved from http://africanarguments.org/2014/09/22/the-presidents-bank-corruption-allegations-tarnish-somalias-brave-new-world-by-jay-bahadur/
Billow, A. (2014, October 2). Rebuilding of Mogadishu Airport, Seaport Underway. Retrieved from http://www.hiiraan.com/news4/2014/Oct/56563/rebuilding_of_mogadishu_airport_seaport_underway.aspx
Source: Mohamed Haji Peso Blogspot