Somalia’s problems need economic solutions

“Since my appointment, I have done a little bit of reading about the situation in Somalia and come to the conclusion it needs a homegrown solution”
Jerry Rawlings, Africa Union’s High Representative to Somalia

Somalia’s political problems continue to confound those working to help Somalia become a country with an effective government. This paper discusses barriers to achieving that goal and puts forward an approach from micro-economic theory to solve political problems gradually.

Since 1991, when the central government collapsed after military dictatorship was ousted, organising reconciliation conferences for Somalia’s political actors was the handy approach favoured by Somalia’s neighbouring countries and the international community. Why have all conferences failed to produce an effective government? The short answer to this questions is: the same approach has been used to expect a different result. Somali politicians’ failures have created reliance on Somalia’s partners collectively known as the international community in a bid to facilitate a political outcome favourable to all political actors. The presence in Somalia of religious extremists that the international community considers a threat to regional and world security is what is partly driving the international community’s renewed commitment to helping Somalis form durable political institutions. That goal has not been achieved so far. Twenty years ago the political struggles in Somalia took the form of clan wars. Now non-extremist political actors are in less violent but no less divisive political struggles in Nairobi, the seat of many international organisations working in Somalia, in Addis Ababa, the seat African Union and in Cairo, the seat of the Arab League.

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