Torn apart by war for decades, Somalia’s largest city, Mogadishu, was deemed the most dangerous place on earth by many media outlets. Finally, as the country begins to stabilize and attempt to put its past behind it, the first ships seen in years are once again docking at the nation’s capital.
Many within and outside of Somalia feel that Mogadishu’s port could be the center of a much needed economic resurgence for the country. The city exports fruit and livestock, and takes in food and concrete, which is in high demand thanks to the relatively peaceful city’s construction boom.
More commerce and building means more employment for everyone, so many who have gone without a job in Somali for some time are finally able to return to work. However, Somalia and Mogadishu in particular, has a very long way to go towards a full recovery.
Essentially no government existed for over two decades. Finally, as some semblance of a central government is beginning to come to form, corruption becomes a main concern. The government is making very little revenue, and most of the money in Somalia comes from foreign aid. Although the ports bring in a little bit, as do the airports, it’s not nearly enough. But is the problem in the amount of money made, or just how little of it actually winds up in the hands of the government?
The former head of the Somali Public Finance Unit, Abdirazak Fartaag, claims that over a three-quarters of funds generated by the port go missing. Assigned to investigate financial management practices of the transitional government in Somalia in 2010, Fartaag quickly discovered a dearth of oversight.
And if that’s happening in the port, it is surely happening to the foreign aid. Some European countries, such as Britain, have suggested allowing donor nations access to Somali books, so they can keep an eye on exactly where their funds are going. However, the Somali government rejected the proposal because they claimed it violated their right to sovereignty.
However, port authorities deny any kind of wrongdoing. They claim that the port only generates around $3.5 million USD per month, which when compared to the funds needed to operate a government, is a very small number.
As the security situation remains very delicate, Somalia’s first step out of the woods will have to be an effort at keeping the peace. But soon thereafter, the nascent government will have to deal with the issue of corruption within.