Somaliland:Leapfrog

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Leapfrog
#1st country to use iris recognition in elections
#1st country with mobile currency-exchange platforms
#5th country mobile money platform was launched.

Leapfrog
&
Not “move forward”

Leapfrog

#1st country to use iris recognition in elections
#1st country with mobile currency-exchange platforms
#5th country mobile money platform was launched.

We must leapfrog multi-dimensionally by stealthily selecting the most advantageous cutting-edge modern digital systems that can become the catalytic force to spur our core economic drivers to have the multiplier-effects that can enable for us the optimal avenues for prosperity. We will pivot once we leverage these transformative digital-technologies that can revolutionize our physical, human, financial, info-structure and institutional infrastructures.

Somaliland must synthesize a growth focused strategy in synergy and purposefully coordinated to unlock, uplift socio-economic development, in symbiosis with an ecosystem rendered conducive for the incubation of transformative platforms, systems, models that are the replicable and scalable.

We are in the third industrial revolution, also known as the digital/info –age, and to grow exponentially we must leverage the innovative technical provisions embedded in the digital-age and harness these advanced processes, businesses models, ideas and solutions as the stepping stone to take bigger developmental strides that will be effective and far-reaching.

We are not resource poor as we are intellectually deprived of the ideas and solutions to capitalize on those resource. For us to truly leapfrog over historical periods, we must build the wherewithal for the info-age to be able to extrapolate the model, systems, mechanisms and platforms already in our midst or around us that are successful like the immense potential the Abaarso School model has in enrich Somaliland’s academic curricula, along with the shrewd perceptive to be aware that as we capitalize on DP World we must keep another eye on China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BBI) the future mode of international trade and commerce.

Albeit we can deduce the positive inclination which the president’s motto of “moving forward” denotes, however we can’t be in a pace of development that is intermittent, incremental and will offer us only marginal improvements at best, especially seeing how much we have progressed from our traditional mode of nomadic pastoralism proceeding colonization.

We must herald a new spirit of innovation to expedite our ascension to our aspired to acme as a nation, it is with through these digital mediums and innovative methods that we can transform the sectors of our economy still in the antecedent-stage of development further laden by atavistic-techniques.

There has to be however a paradigm-shift given the urgency of the ghastly socioeconomic determinants which symbolize our current state, the dimensional-economy that remains susceptible to exogenous factors and the apparent vacuity of research and publications from our universities, along with the fragmented public sectors lacking coordination further impeded by the institutional deficiencies and inadequate infrastructure.

Somaliland has gained unsurmountable impetus from the utilization of the iris recognition in last presidential elections, and even though the digital technological breakthroughs are led by and are scattered around the private sector. The government should become acquainted with and further hone in to exploit the inter-play or even cross-pollinate these digital-platforms to produce the precise prototypes that will prove panacea to our problems.

The Government can implement a forward thinking digital strategy to harmonize the confluence of the plethora of innovative technologies in our ecosystem and render it palatable for a truly digital resilience, by putting forth policies that ensures a symbiotic engagement between the public and private sectors in an effort to augment progress and distill the greatest benefits possible.

In this information-age revolutionized by the digital technologies, we must develop the tactical sensors and the needed intelligence to be able to select the systems, models and platforms with the prowess that can prove elixir to the ills besetting our nation. We will be able to obtain important developmental outcomes by excavating the information-age for the technical-knowhow in the digital platforms to target the higher added values activities. We have to reorient our focus and learn how to decipher pertinent information on the innovative products and services that we can tailor make into actionable solutions to tackle our developmental challenges, by becoming assiduously astute to discern valuable information from the ubiquitous aggregate datasets and spurning those that would offer only spasmodic solutions.

In this digital epoch, once we properly understand how to fully comprehend the issues that are peculiar to our context, we will come to embrace the immense potential of these technological tools and analytical solutions in multitude of digital platforms of apps and software that can easily be adapted by the masses. The potential and opportunities for the variety of industries and sectors in Somaliland’s economy will be infinite as we begin to grasp the internet of things with the fiber-optic-cable and high speed internet.
Imagine the strides we can take to fast tract development, if we in a meaningful way manage to harness the breakthroughs in agriculture #Agri-tech of drip-irrigation and greenhouse farming and the environmentally friendly innovations in #Energy with solar and wind generating power, and financial sector #Fin-tech with the digitally availed mobile money platforms.

#Fin-Tech
Financing remains a major constrain for projects at the national level and for our small and midsize enterprises, but we are not financially poor as we are intellectually deprived of the ideas to generate investment solutions. Somaliland can harness the Digital Financial Services (DFS) with our emerging cashless economy and our country having over ninety percent internet and phone coverage. We can create investment-vehicles and generate value from unproductive government funds, dormant remittances and offer an alternative investment options to the exorbitantly inflated real estate market in Somaliland. To be able to route funds for investment needs, we have to capitalize on the robust digital financial platforms.

Handaarab

I contend Handraab the local term that has been used to describe the stringent controls or the lockdown of the government’s financial resources in the president’s first year, would have not occurred if there were investment tools the president could have used.

Microfinance

Microfinance platforms are a commercially viable mechanisms that in addition to strengthening the president’s fiduciary responsibility and financial prudence of safeguarding the public funds would have also offered a productive investment oriented towards social-impact instead of being locked up bearing nothing. For the one whole year those funds remained idle, the government could have at least sought a marginal rate of return that at least aimed to remain in lockstep with inflation by offering small loans for that short term duration of one year it would have stimulated economic activity and induced a spirit of investing in the country and positively reinforcement the industrious workers of Somaliland.
Microfinance platforms would have been an outlet for a financial-inclusion especially if the funds loans were directed to low income small scale traders that are cash strapped on the lower end of the economic ladder and even those located in rural areas. Certainly it would have been an effort that would have helped to alleviate poverty and aided in the greater social mobility by investing in microfinance mechanisms.
Government can setup Somaliland’s own national fund, where excess funds in the government coffers can be made available for microfinance institutions, the digital-age through mobile money mechanisms has made it even easier for the private institutions to facilitate the monitoring processes of the selection of clients, distribution and collections of funds. Depending on the government’s level of desired engagement of direct or an indirect P2P involvement, it will be able to find a suitable microfinance scheme that it will be comfortable with, and without doubt microfinance institutions will compete to for the funds. All of our resources should yield some sort of dividends, especially given our obvious constraints.

#Remittances
Somaliland has to distill a greater economic benefit from its remittances that is far beyond the just mere sustenance it currently does. The digital age has simplified and streamlined already existing financial mechanisms and still possesses the inherent potential to offer wider valuable financial provisions. The digital-mobile mediums have altered the landscape of remittances through digital platforms like Taaj and World Remit with its greater international clout, however through a win-win enticements these remittance providers can be compelled to expand their digital-platforms to encompass a wider financial services that include savings that can be streamed into viable channels for economic development. We have to drive greater value from remittances and with some ingenuity we can find the optimal solutions within these digital platforms that appropriately incentivizes the private digital operators to part-take in the narrowing of the investment-gap in the country.

#Agri-tech
We can redefine our agriculture in this new era of #Agri-tech and digital revolution, through tech transformation we can educate, enable and empower farmers and improve the overall efficiency of Somaliland’s production.
The digital solutions for agriculture are plenty and the power is bestowed onto the farmers, relevant data such as soil conditions, pathogens can be accessed through personal devices along with the vast knowledge in the Agri-business as it relates to storage solutions, temperature controls and supply-chains. Innovative ways in farming like drip-irrigation and green houses that can help transcend our mostly subsistence farming and drought inflicted arid-sub-fertile-lands to a one that is sustainable with a better allied agro-industries in Somaliland. Agriculture sector is as much crucial to our development as it is to our sustenance, we must seek to adopt the emerging innovative systems in agriculture for Somaliland to become self-sufficient.

#Energy
Energy is a precursor to development and the mere 2% it accounts for in the national GDP is a somber presage to how far we have to go. Somaliland’s electricity infrastructure with no centralized power plant, no national power grid and transmission has subverted any economies of scale that would have been realized through the consolidation of the private electricity providers in Hargeisa and allowed savings to be passed down to consumers via lower unit prices. And in such environment, micro-grids and the ample solar and wind in Somaliland will suffice. We must tap into the potential of renewable energy schemes to obtain affordable, reliable and sustainable energy in Somaliland. Modern micro-grids offers the ability for smarter management of power-networks on multiple energy batteries sustained by a mixture of diverse smaller scale energy sources. Currently 98% of Somaliland’s electricity production is created through diesel generation and 85% of domestic energy needs is being derived from biomass (Woods, Charcoal). It is through a divine providence that Somaliland has been blessed to be situated amidst the abundance of solar and wind, and now we have to use our smarts to utilize these platforms to bring energy to the masses in urban and rural areas and at a lower cost per unit of energy than the fossil fuels backed sources.

#Jonathan Star’s Abaarso model
The info-age compels us to extrapolate from the model, systems, mechanisms and platforms already in our midst that are successful which we can emulate in a scalable manner.
The Abaarso School model has the potential to immensely enrich Somaliland’s academic curricula, and after understanding we can replicate those underpinning intricacies that add to its success. Insight into Star’s oasis of educational excellence can divulge the embedded methods, techniques, best practices, standard-adherence, international-accreditations, and having the greater precision of doing more with less for our department of education. With proper understanding and analysis we will be able to emulate this first class learning institution and incubate it in a hybrid manner or pilot programs if we deem fit, but what is more important than that and proceeds it is our will to succeed and leave mediocrity.

Public Sector
Digital era has already empowered Somaliland’s political quest for recognition, we had gained unsurmountable impetus from the utilization of the iris recognition in last presidential elections, which turbo charged our political forte and future political prospects. Somaliland’s political arena is indebted to this cutting-edge digital innovations, where the premier biometric of iris has enabled thousands of iris registered voters and built a greater public trust. The validity of such stringent technological utilization only strengthens the integrity of our elections which only further deepens our democratic values and the overall electoral process. The potential of the digital-age and revolutionary technologies for the government and the various services the public-sector provides remains immense. For our unrecognized nation, the government can find newer ways to deploy the digital-resources in the multitude of media mediums to market our national image to the world.

The local Governments
We can identify the most appropriate systems, structures and within our local-government institutions to be optimized by these digital platforms, in order to obtain a more effective and efficient local government.
A digital platforms that are citizen centered and a public-value driven will be able to modernize and increase the efficiency of public sector services. The dynamically inherent capabilities of these innovations can streamline, expedite and equalize services of the public sector. The digitization holds a great potential for a wider-civic-engagement by government given the mobile penetration into the far-flung rural communities.

The soft underbelly & chinks in our armor

We must implement plans that can commensurate with the same exigency and poignancy with which the president spoke of Somaliland’s development issues at the eight trade fair held in Hargeisa. The president stressed the importance of time and gave a two year open window to capitalize on current opportunities and shape our own destiny, however if we fall short of it, history will not be kind nor forgive us for it. For that to occur there has to be a paradigm-shift from a mentality of aid-dependence to one that restores our integrity and embodies self-sufficiency and resilience of the Somaliland people. We will not make any headways continuing at our current pace as any progress made will be confronted and ultimately restrained by the sustained entrenched economic vulnerabilities and the lingering systemic fragilities of our economy.
A paradigm-shift is a must with the urgency and grasp to leapfrog the ghastly socioeconomic determinants that symbolize our current state of our undiversified dimensional-economy lacking domestic production that remains susceptible to exogenous factors especially given the volatilities of the commodities we import such as food and fuel. The indicative sectors of the developmental-status of an economy such as energy and finance do not even mount to 2% of Somaliland’s GDP further illuminating our feeble structural-features. Add that to the apparent vacuity of research & publications from our numerous Higher-learning-institutions signifies the output of our universities is still disproportionately slanted towards quantity rather than quality, a disheartening reality made bleaker by the fact that 50 % of secondary school age children of 14-17 years are currently not attending school.
For us to leapfrog in this third industrial revolution will start with shifting to developmental mindset and purging the humanitarian one, and then building the new capabilities, resources and tools that are essential to a successful transformation in the digital-age.
Until the day we have more investors in Somaliland than aid-workers!
Geleh Ali Marshaal
Geleh@hotmail.com
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