Somaliland has achieved what neighboring Somalia has failed to do for years: peace, stability, an end to terror – and that with almost no international help.
How does it work?
Pizzerias, burger shops and cafés with barista lattes have been around for a long time. You can even get Ikea shelves here in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, one of the poorest countries in the world.
In rural regions, large parts of the population are acutely threatened by hunger, there are hardly any paved roads, the power supply is poor and health care is practically non-existent. But compared to neighboring Somalia , the boom is enormous.
In Hargeisa, construction is going on everywhere, with residential areas on the outskirts, hotels, office towers and bank buildings in the center. Budget spending is relatively clear and transparent and there are regular democratic elections. So far, the change of office has gone smoothly even if the opposition came to power.
In the eyes of the world, the small republic with its around 3.5 million inhabitants belongs to Somalia, a failed state in the Horn of Africa , where pirates and terrorist militias have been fighting for power with corrupt politicians and armed gangs for years. But while the civil war in Somalia does not end, there is peace in Somaliland. While Somalia does not get on its feet despite billions in international aid, there is a largely functioning tax system, police and army.
Edna Adan Ismail can explain what works better here and what works differently here. The former foreign minister is not only the most important voice in the struggle for Somaliland to be recognized as an independent state – the 83-year-old is also the best example of some of what is going well in the small nation.
Like so many, she had to leave her homeland during the war with neighboring Somalia in the late 1980s. And like so many, she has returned. With money, experience and a vision.
This is exactly one of the reasons for Somaliland’s success, says Ahmed Dalal Farah, management consultant and economist at Hargeisa University. He too had to flee because of the war and has come back to help build his country. The money and the experience of the returnees are extremely important for the economy, he says. But the bottom line is: “People believe in this country. That’s why they’re coming back, that’s why they’re investing here. ”
Like the German Mariam Adam Noor. At some point the young physiotherapist from Münster moved to her parents’ home country, and has been offering fitness courses for women here for a year. There has never been anything like it in Somaliland, she says. The very idea that women do sport is revolutionary.
In cafés, at concerts and in shops – everywhere you come across young returnees, recognizable by their expensive laptops, iPhones and smartwatches. She enjoys the slowed-down life, the feeling of being at home, says Mariam Adam Noor. But sometimes she feels strange here. Your two friends from London and Canada nod.
By Benjamin Moscovici reports from Somaliland