Renewal of Hope in Ethiopia’s Somali State

To begin with, for those who think I might have an ulterior motive for writing this, please note that I am an apolitical entrepreneur with no aspiration back-scratching or spoils of office. My only interest is to see Somali State of Ethiopia achieve tangible progress in the areas of infrastructure development, economic well-being, health and education. Even though I have never met President Abdi Omar of Somali State, I have always been fond of his ability to laser-focus on task-at-hand and his courage to move forward with issues important to the development of the region, even when the naysayers portray them as impractical.

My personal observations of achievements in Somali State are not based on data from various self-serving websites, but rather from an objective analysis and review of what has been accomplished on the ground. One does not have to be a rocket scientist to observe and accept the realities.

Cynics would have one believe that the region is unstable, while the undeniable facts suggest otherwise. We have enjoyed the most tranquil period of our history since the Ginbot Revolution. As a native son of Somali State, I am more interested in seeing paved roads, building of schools, hospitals and creation of commercial opportunities for communities in need. Unequivocally, that is what has been achieved. Under his leadership, President Abdi Omar, a formidable and strong all-Somali regional force has been formed. These forces are tasked with maintaining state-wide security and fending off border transgressions from terrorist organisations.

Testament to the commitment of the regional leadership is the recent announcement of the formation of new districts. The intent of the formation of the new districts is to decentralise administration and deliver services in the most cost-effective and efficient ways to those in need.

Furthermore, the leadership challenged the Diaspora community to contribute to building the required infrastructure in the newly formed districts. This concept, while not new, is admirable as it creates a sense of ownership on the part of the stakeholders of the newly formed districts. When I received a call from a cousin, encouraging me to contribute to the building of infrastructure at Shebeeley, one of the new districts, I was too happy to oblige, not only because I believe in delivering necessary services to the masses, but at a personal level, it is my father’s namesake.

It might be argued that these achievements are “time-tested” processes put in place by the federal government and given the opportunity, anyone could have succeeded. To those, I simply suggest a review of the history of the region for the last two decades. Unless one is blinded by ignorance or intellectual dishonesty, it is easy to realise that no one had the courage to build the infrastructure or organise a native law enforcement body particularly designed to protect our state.

Still, in dichotomy, other conspiracy theorists suggest that the federal government is not allowing “the leadership” to flourish. To them, I simply say that previous leaders were, by and large, toothless tigers more interested in enriching themselves with public coffers than in building roads or hospitals.

At the height of the American Civil War, frustrated by lack of progress in the field on the part of some of his generals, Abraham Lincoln said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

For over twenty years, men of my region were given power at various times. Most of them used it to enrich themselves while others abused it to an irreparable extent.

In contrast, the current leadership has shown the character and the temperament to lead. It promotes hope over fear, development over self-destruction, pride over submission, self-reliance over handouts. Reaching out to the Diaspora communities in North America, Europe and Australia is indicative of the leadership’s genuine commitment to regional progress.

The name of major regional projects, in and of themselves, tell the story. Projects are aptly named Samewade (good doer), Ileys (visionary), rajo-rumays (hopeful), Biyo-nolol (potable water), and the most recent one, roob-doon (rain seeker). This is in direct contrast with war-mongering project names like Operation Desert Storm or Operation Desert Shield, showing the new attitude in dealing with issues of importance to the community’s well-being.

The leadership’s instinctive ability to connect with people – elderly and the youth – to learn first hand about their primary concerns is unparalleled. Constant communication with the business community to ensure that they have everything they need at their disposal to move the economy forward is testament to the leadership’s approach to bring us all together for the good of our region. This is exactly why we all must show our unconditional support to the region’s leadership. Failure is not an option.


By Abdi Ahmed
Abdi Ahmed is an American entrepreneur of Ethiopian origin. He is a founder of NetServe, chairman of California Small Business Association (CSBA) and vice president of Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce (GLAAACC).

Published on May 10,2016 [ Vol 17 ,No 836]



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