In today’s Somaliland Update we have a few reports that demonstrate how Somaliland is working to rebuild itself (with a little bit of help and a lot of efforts from its own people) from the serious damage caused more than twenty years ago by the brutal government of Siad Barre. While these efforts at rebuilding have gone on far outside of the public eye, it is worthwhile to note that at least a few people have given them attention, and so we ought to pay attention to them.
One House At A Time
According to Somaliland247 and the Norwegian Refugee Council , the people of Somaliland has been hard at work building permanent homes to replace tents for refugees returning to Somaliland from refugee camps in Ethiopia. While a great deal of attention has been paid to Somalia’s refugees fleeing to Kenya, (almost) no attention has been paid to those Somalilanders who have been refugees for two decades in Ethiopia over the late 1980′s civil war between independence-minded Somalilanders and Somalia’s corrupt and onetime US-supported one-party socialist government.
With some help from the Japanese government and the UN as well as the Norwegian Refugee Council (though not, apparently, Habitat For Humanity), and some support from the Somaliland government itself, Somalilanders returning to their home country from refugee camps in Ethiopia have been helping to build themselves brick houses to rebuild permanent settlements. The goal is to replace a refugee mindset with that of homeowners in their own villages, and with a more settled place in their homeland. Helping Somaliland’s citizens feel legitimate in their land rather than merely sojourners on it helps Somaliland feel more legitimate as a state, and that is only a good thing, regardless of how little the world pays attention to it.
Rebuilding Institutions Of Higher Learning
Given that one of Somaliland’s most important exports and its largest ‘agricultural’ sector is livestock, it is not a surprise that one of Somaliland’s most impressive postsecondary education programs is a veterinary program, the Sheikh Technical Veterinary School And Reference Program, in the town of Sheikh in the Sahil Highlands of Somaliland. Built in 2002 with funding from the EU, Denmark, and Italy, this institution is currently in the process of regional accreditation by Somaliland to become a state university within Somaliland and it is already affiliated with Makarere University with a strong program and institutional and educational links with other institutions of higher learning both in Somaliland and abroad. Thanks to Somaliland247 for bringing this university to our attention .
Challenges And Opportunities
According to Somaliland247 , if you’re in London on January 19th, 2012, the Africa Research Institute is hosting a discussion on the challenges and opportunities for businesses in Somaliland at: 55 Tufton Street,London SW1P 3Q, from 7:15-9:00PM. A broad base of business activities will be discussed at the meeting, ranging from livestock breeding to oil and gas and private equities to education. The combination of a broad variety of people who are actually from the Horn of Africa or Somaliland makes for an interesting meeting for those people in England who are interested in doing business in Somaliland.
Somaliland certainly presents some challenges to any business. For one, the lack of international recognition despite two decades of stable legal order and democracy as a de facto state and its success in winning its independence against a tyrannical and oppressive government by force of arms is a definite challenge. On the other hand, Somaliland has a strong legal order (always a benefit for businesses), including the absence of the endemic Somali piracy, and a great location at the base of the Red Sea, allowing for convenient trade access north through the Suez Canal as well as eastward toward India and the Persian Gulf. Its close relationship with its neighbor Ethiopia is also a positive development. Hopefully we will see some fruit of this effort in the near future as Somaliland looks to build its credibility as a worthwhile de jure state.