May 8, 2012 ·3 Comments
By Ahmed Mohamed Jama Irrobeh
Somalis were known to be an oral society throughout their relatively short history in this part of the African continent and, even after modern education was introduced into their country more than seventy years ago, they still seem to be pen-shy since few of them have contributed to the development of their country through writing and hence making use their education and professional skills. Hence, there is a dearth of books and other publications written by Somalis on the many economic and social development issues and challenges facing the country. Fortunately we see a break with this tradition for the first time with the recent publication of the first book on Somaliland’s development titled Tackling Development Issues in Somaliland by Ahmed Irrobeh ( Arima Publishing, ASK House, (2012) UK Price £15; USD 250). The book extensively deals with the issues hindering the economic progress of Somaliland and makes apt proposals as to how these could be addressed in the medium and long-term time horizon.
Somalilanders know that the development challenges facing their country are quite daunting and multi-faceted and could be intractable to fine solutions in a short time. The author is well-qualified, equipped and acquainted with the problem to face the task of finding solutions for these as he possesses both the academic qualifications and work experience necessary to address the subject head-on. This book, written from a practitioner perspective, is the first attempt to contribute to the debate on the economic and social development issues confronted by Somaliland. It is intended for the benefit of various audiences including experts and academics in the field, government bureaucrats engaged in the development planning process and, perhaps students who are desirous of furthering their knowledge on Somaliland. The general public will also find the book very interesting and informative. The book is well written in simple and clear style shorn of any academic jargon. The author draws extensively on his wide-ranging experience during his long career in the development arena.
The book is skilfully organized into four chapters each of which addresses specific issues on development but with an overall objective of finding solutions for reducing and/or eliminating poverty initially and attaining a higher level of development thereafter. At the outset, in the first chapter, the author makes his most important proposal by suggesting the adoption of a development model akin to the one that had been instrumental in the success of the South-East Asian countries (the so-called tigers) which he deems to be most suitable for the rapid economic and social development of Somaliland. The thrust of the Asian model is built on the implementation of polices, strategies and measures that have made that region successful and prosperous in a relatively short time. The main pillars of this model mainly consist of the adoption of universal literacy and imparting the relevant technical skills through basic and middle level training, promotion of government-directed but private sector-executed investments in the various sectors of the real economy and mobilization of internal financial and technical resources for investments with the purpose of producing goods for export and the earning of foreign exchange for sustaining investment in further sustained development projects.
By taking this position, the author clearly implies that the Western-inspired model of development has failed in our part of the world and it is time for African and other developing countries to look to the East for a more suitable model. In the remaining chapters of the book, the author takes stock of the issues facing the social and economic development of Somaliland. Specifically, he demonstrates that the economic and social advancement of Somaliland should be carried out by the utilization of the country’s abundant resources: including its agricultural, livestock, fisheries, mineral and hydrocarbon resources. In dealing with these complex issues, the author not only proposes the adoption of appropriate and reasonable policy frameworks that will be needed for the development of these sectors but also prescribes the specific strategic and practical steps required to be carried out in order to attain the development objectives on a sustainable basis. In this process, the author estimates the resources required to carry out the initial phase of the development programme (i.e. the social development programme).
It is clear that while engaged in this endeavour, the author had done extensive research and provided a substantial amount of information in the book for the benefit of those interested in the field. Tackling Development Issues in Somaliland is not perhaps last word on Somaliland’s development, but it is pioneering work for others to follow. The book constitutes the first salvo fired at an old nemesis that has been haunting Somaliland for a long time – an effort which others are expected to emulate.
Mohamoud Awil Ibrahim
By goth Mohamed