The long civil war in Somalia caused extensive damage in the capital Mogadishu. Private and public buildings were completely ruined.
Since Al Shabaab was ousted from Mogadishu in 2011, a new chapter has opened for Somalia. Many diaspora Somalis have flooded back into the country, bringing with them wealth and knowledge. New mansions are being built, and supermarkets and malls opening across Mogadishu
Mogadishu now serves as a commercial and financial center for Somalia. The city’s Bakara market offers a variety of goods, from fresh food to the newest electronic gadgets. The hotel industry continues to boom.
The economy has recovered somewhat from the civil unrest, faring relatively better than other Somali cities. Principal industries include food and beverage processing, and textiles, especially cotton ginning. Besides the real estate market and hotel industry, the telecommunications sector has also flourished.
The chink-chink of hammers and nails on construction sites mushrooming across the capital has replaced the daily gun shots and skirmishes. We, the people who have been living in Mogadishu for the last ten years, can literally see before our eyes the undeniable progress made in the Somali capital in recent years.
Although security remains a big challenge, if you visit the different districts of Mogadishu, you see newly built houses while others are being renovated. There are green football grounds, with young people playing together for the first time in two decades. Residents of Mogadishu even have a Peace Garden where families spend hours at the weekends.
Imagine a once war-torn capital which now is full of cars. It even has traffic jams.
However, despite all those developments, the public sector has been all but forgotten. All the governments that have existed in Somalia since 2000 have failed to make progress in promoting institutions of public interest.
For example, the two main buildings or the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health remain destroyed. The internally displaced are living in them, taking advantage of their abandoned status.
This is not only an embarrassment for the leaders of Somali governments, but also for Somalia’s wealthy business community and international donors who say they have spent huge amount on the education and health sectors over the past decade.
Education and health are among our most basic of needs. Therefore, the next government and the candidates who are now competing to lead the country should make reviving basic institutions a top priority.
I am a strong supporter of the private sector but we should not forget the interests of the general public. We cannot depend for our whole lives on private companies just because our country is unique and we have experienced more than twenty years of anarchy and civil war.
There are many poor families who cannot afford to send their children to private schools. We want to see doctors working in private clinics dedicating some of their time to working in public hospitals.
It is shameful for us to rely on foreign assistance at all times. We have adequate resources so, if we manage things properly and stay away from corruption – the worst disease which has weakened our nation – there is no doubt that we can deliver the best and lead our country into a prosperous future.
By Mohamed Moalimuu