The Somali private civil service persists despite the reconstruction of the State

by MMC
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Somalia was once a vibrant socialist society whose military leader, Siad Barre, believed he had the most effective civil service. Then, on January 26, 1991, northern rebels overthrew his government and forced him to flee.

Since then, any semblance of public service has been largely privatized. So why does privatization persist in Somalia, despite concerted efforts to rebuild state institutions?

Well, it looks like anything with Siad Barre’s fingerprints has been bombed. Schools, ports, roads, government buildings were all gone.

From that day in 1991, anarchy continued for at least two years before warlords divided the territory. According to historians, by the second anniversary of the government’s fall, almost all government institutions had been looted or at least damaged.

The entire nation had no choice but to find a way to recover from unimaginable losses, including the disappearance of all national documents, most dating from the colonial era.

Private initiative is essential to provide certain services, starting with food and clothing.

Control over business

“Traders rushed to Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), to load boats with goods bound for Mogadishu. But as there were no port facilities, traders pooled their resources to establish the natural port of Eel-Maan, about 25 km northeast of Mogadishu,” Omar Abdulle Hayle, a maritime expert who has previously studied the Somali coast, told Nation.Africa.

Before that, he said, the socialist government had a stranglehold on business, having created three commercial entities in the early 1970s, including the Ente Nazionale per Commercio (ENC), the then National Trade Agency, the shirkadda maacuunta (Utensil Society) and the Agricultural Agency. Development Agency (ADC), the latter to purchase agricultural products and resell them to better buyers.

Even cigarettes were produced, imported and sold by a state-owned company.

When they collapsed, their role was taken over by private traders. To date, no Somali government has been able to develop a strategy to revive business, including the establishment of factories and manufacturing plants.

Lack of profitability

Elephantine manufacturing plants such as state-owned sugar companies, meat factories, fish processing plants and many others were huge and employed thousands of people, while today’s private manufacturers are insignificant but provide quality goods. consumption such as sponge mattresses, furniture and mineral water, not intended to show the greatness of military authority despite the lack of profitability.

It is in the education sector that Somalia has perhaps seen the greatest change. Free public education disappeared overnight. Siad Barre’s military regime had guaranteed free primary, secondary, and university education, although some claimed the programs offered limited opportunities.

One example of his plight is a video released by supporters of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as he sought re-election last year. Mohamud appeared in the video and said he and some friends decided to negotiate with squatters occupying a public building owned by the defunct National Tobacco Company, widely known as Monopolio, in the city’s Shibis neighborhood. They transformed it into a school and then into a university.

Mohamud said: “In 1992, a year after the collapse of the central government, my friends and I decided to revive education and opened the Mogadishu primary and secondary school. Later, we started what is now SIMAD University.

Since then, thousands of schools and dozens of universities and colleges have sprung up in Somalia, all privately run. Students pay to attend. Somalia has one of the lowest literacy rates in Africa. According to a UN estimate, Somalia’s overall literacy rate is 37.8 percent, with 49.7 percent of men proficient in reading and writing and 25.8 percent of women. The poor remain marginalized. These institutions are part of a galaxy of educational networks.

During its tenure, the military government provided free health care and continued to improve medical facilities inherited from the civilian government of the 1960s after independence.

With almost all health centers looted or destroyed, individuals began creating facilities and offering services for a fee, including payment for a doctor’s visit, a hospital bed, and medicine.

“In Mogadishu, the days of Digfeer, De Martino, Banadir and other public hospitals are over,” said Hassan Aidarus, a resident of Hamarweyne district.

The military regime controlled virtually all communications. But it was a strategy to filter bad words or conversations through postal services to telephone networks. Journalists could not even send video and audio recordings outside the country without permission from a supervisor.

All this changed when private companies created their own telephone companies. Olympic, Al-Barakat, Nationlink and others emerged.

Private property expanded choice

But even the costly privatization that took place had positive results. Competition prompted these companies and many others that followed, such as Somtel and Hormuud, to provide various communications services, including some of the cheapest local and international calls and Internet services in Africa, if not the world.

Private ownership not only removed deplorable government restrictions, it also expanded choice.

Dozens of private airlines have replaced the single state-owned Somali Airlines, which had been the flagship airline since 1964.

Until the collapse of General Siad Bare’s regime, security was the central function of government, with laws stipulating that weapons and ammunition should only belong to the state. This saying died out when each clan warlord created their own militia to keep their clan members safe.

The scenario created an open-air arms market known as Cirtoogte (a Somali word literally meaning “sky shooters”), an interpretation that weapons for sale were to be tested by shooting into the sky.

In this way, state-guaranteed security is restored, making the need for warlords and the Cirtoogte arms market in Somalia unnecessary.

Soon, the government’s job of issuing licenses, ID cards, and passports disappeared, allowing cunning people to emerge. One of these men was Abdalla Shideeye.

Until recently, all previously issued documents were sold on the open market by Abdalla Shideeye artisans, who operated from small kiosks in the heart of Bakara, the main commercial center of the Somali capital, and copied them elsewhere.

In most parts of Somalia, services such as education, healthcare, communications, water and other essential services are so deprived that the Horn of Africa has even abandoned its currency, for example. act rather than by decree.

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