By Mohamed Farah Abdi
Although Somaliland has achieved good progress in some sectors but still there is limited technical capacity to understand and adopt the best economic strategies and policies practiced by other countries with the similar development background and with the same geopolitical case such as the South East Asian countries.
Somaliland can follow the development path of the South East Asian countries if we minimize the gap of limited expertise to benefit existing opportunities to come up quick development actions with our limited resources. President Muse Bihi has a limited window to decide on best strategies and steps necessary to take for economic development unless he gets a good number of strong experts.
Somaliland lacks a pool of cadre of experts that can provide a clear articulation of the national strategies and create conducive environment for investment, industrialization, job creation, exploiting natural resources and creation of state-owned or private partnership companies.
There is a need to create the nation’s foremost advisory or Think-Tank Platform that can study, analyze and propose solutions for the nation’s critical matters. The Somaliland presidents such as Silanyo and incumbent President Muse Bihi have been using to establish many temporary committees with the aim to bring solutions to some problems at the office of the president. The presidents are good to seek advice. However, most of their committees were not technocrats with strong qualifications and expertise to conceptualize and come up with quick solutions to the subject matters. Most of the sources revealed that the deliverables and effectiveness of those committees often remind unsuccessful due to lack of coordination, limited time and resources and lack of technocrats involved, limited proper researches conducted and reported.
Most of the committee members are selected from the cabinet and thereby they did not exert time and efforts to conduct feasibility studies, researches, proper designs and propose written solutions to the president.
Instead of laymen temporary committees, President Muse Bihi needs to get a permanent platform of experts that will provide him scholarly advice and technical backstopping support to make wise decisions of the trends of political and economic development agenda.
To get that platform of experts, I am hereby proposing for President Muse Bihi to establish Somaliland National Institute for Strategic Studies that will comprise teams of experts including nationals and internationals.
The Somaliland National Institute for Strategic Studies will be national Think Tank platform that focuses on the following themes:
1. Economic, Industrialization, Investment Promotion Research and Policy Analysis
2. Capacity Building and Knowledge Dissemination
3. Technical Consultancy and Advisory Support
4. International Relations and Diplomacy
Proposed Functions/Objectives of the Institute
1. Coordinate and provide technical inputs to the researches of local Universities and build their professional competence in researches in economic, industrialization, investment promotion, governance and capacity building;
2. Provide technical expertise and Know-how to the president and cabinet to adopt international best practices for economic development such as strategies and techniques of South East Asian Countries.
3. Serve as an effective platform for knowledge dissemination, exchange and dialogue among experts and give a podium to Somalilander experts to contribute their thoughts and present their innovative ideas publicly;
4. Conduct researches and feasibility studies to explore opportunities, provide technical advisory services, tools, and guidelines of economic development;
5. Conduct in-depth analysis and broader understanding of critical national issues and propose sound and timely policies and actions for solutions;
6. Collect facts and technical details relating to different economic sectors to attract potential investors and mobilize resources to create jobs, establish industries including state-owned companies;
7. Provide technical assistance to the president and the cabinet to develop policies, strategies and guidelines governing economic development, investment and international cooperation;
8. Assist ministries to conduct studies and develop investable concepts and ready projects for investment and funding;
9. Coordinate and provide technical support to improve service delivery of ministries of planning, finance, trade and investments;
10. Strengthen the capacity of government institutions to be responsive against the international legal instruments and best practices of economic development;
11. Promote government’s ability to support industries to grow to advance rapid economic growth;
12. Provide training on diplomacy, protocols and international communication to Somaliland diplomats and civil servants;
13. Provide tools to deal with all political, economic, social and technological aspects of diplomacy;
14. Conduct studies on the issues of international relations concerning Somaliland and increase understanding on those issues;
Proposed Structure of the Institute
1. The board of directors at the institute includes high ranking Somaliland government officials, diplomats, directors of multinational businesses, and leaders of academic institutions.
2. The institute will have Director General with strong experience in development.
3. The institute will have department directors who are officially recruited internationally and nationally
4. The department directors will be experts in the fields of international economic development, investment promotions, international relations, diplomacy and international relations, researches and technical feasibility studies for development projects.
5. The institute will hire short term experts/researches on need basis.
Expected Achievements of the Institute
The Somaliland National Institute for Strategic Studies will be expected to contribute to technical capacity and Know-How to attain to the Somaliland National Vision 2030, ‘’A Stable, Democratic and Prosperous Country Where People Enjoy a High Quality of Life’’.
The institute will minimise challenges hindering Somaliland to boost the country’s rapid economic growth by enabling the government to develop its resources and manage public services without impediments to the private sector economy. It will improve the capacity of the government to attract investments as it will increase better understanding international businessmen to set up industries in Somaliland. It will interpret and localise development models of Southeast Asian developing countries. The institute is expected to bring skills and experiences on international best practices of economic development and facilitate the understanding between local community and government of Somaliland.
The institute is expected to facilitate the establishment of state and privately owned companies as means of sole ownership or Joint Venture/PPP with private international and local entrepreneurs. For example, the Institute will facilitate to establish many more of the following companies that will create jobs and generate revenue for the government to avoid custom based sources of income:
1. Somaliland National Cement Factory
2. Somaliland National Salt Processing Factory
3. Livestock Husbandry and Ground holds Development Enterprises
4. Somaliland National Fish Factory
5. Somaliland National Coal Export Cooperation
6. Somaliland National Copper Export Enterprise
7. National Gemstone Auction
8. Somaliland Geological Survey
9. Somaliland National Real Estate Development Agency
10. Industrial Development Enterprise
11. National Archaeology Research Authority
12. Somaliland Postal Service Enterprise
Mohamed Farah Abdi
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