This article seeks to focus on the future of Somalia but in a unique way. For years, plans and policies said to be essential for the country’s future have been passed by both government and non -governmental organizations.
While some of these plans have succeeded, most of them are yet to come to light instead, making Somalis’ future much longer. This essay adopts the ‘rethink’ narrative, which comes with much meaning. First, it acknowledges that efforts are being made in terms of ‘thinking the future of Somalia.
‘ At this point, this will not emphasize the actors involved in the thinking but rather the question of whether the ideas, thoughts, and initiatives raised over the last thirty years have left the country in a better place. A more direct answer will be no; the country today continues to face some of the challenges people were facing in the country more than 30 years ago.
Although it is essential to mention that it is not only Somalia that continues to face these challenges as many other countries in the continent and beyond continues to meet the same, but the question is also why Somali hasn’t been able to overcome some of the pressing problems it has faced over the years. Many will argue that the conflict that emerged from the civil war may have disrupted progress and growth in the country.
That is undoubtedly true; we cannot emphasize the impact of the competition on the country’s development enough. However, some contend that the conflict is in the same category of issues such as providing access to clean water, good health services, good roads, transport infrastructure, and up-to-date information and communication network that needs rethinking. In other words, the approach that has been used to try and end the conflict and government strategies to ensure sufficient provisions of public goods all seem to have failed, and a new approach for the future of Somalia needs to be adopted.
This is where the youth come in; there is a firm conviction that young people have a bigger chance to make a difference in their societies given their unique skills and experiences, yet most countries still underutilize youth potential. In Somalia, the issue of youths goes beyond the simple image of the kind of contribution they can create.
First, the population demographics show that 8 out of 10 Somalis are below 35. It means they are the most significant stakeholders and have a more substantial responsibility when discussing issues about the country’s future. But as things are currently, youths in Somalia have minimal capabilities.
The few opportunities given to the youths have left a majority facing various difficulties. In response, some youths have chosen to make decisions that greatly impact themselves and the country. According to research that the Rift Valley Institute conducted on the effects of war on Somalia’s respondents, youths who could not get solutions to their social and economic challenges have opted to acquire wealth, legally or illegally, or to leave the country (Tahriib).
In addition, young people are engaged in self-employment or working for civil society organizations and remain isolated in the critical decision-making process, which is still dominated by the elites and clan elders. For instance, those aspiring to political leadership or positions face discrimination based on age, including legal obstacles.
Apart from this, dysfunctional governance is one of the key obstacles to tackling Somalia’s society and youth in trouble. While promoting democratic governance is vital to securing political rights, defending economic liberties, building institutions accountable, and encouraging an enabling environment where peace and development can succeed.
Also, durable development will not be feasible because people believe they are represented in political life and have a true share in society and will not attain sustainable growth. The future of Somalia is looking bright but will not be achieved if proper restructuring is not done to allow young people to engage and contribute more broadly to the country’s future.
The young people are better placed to contribute to the country’s future in several ways, including the role of youths in peace and conflict resolution since we know most of the people involved in the competition include young people. Interestingly, many people have argued that youths are engaged in some of the conflict groups because of unemployment or other economic constraints but applying violence is not solving the unemployment problems; therefore, youths need to play a critical part in peace in the country.
Secondly, youths can contribute to a good governance process by directly or indirectly playing a role in elections, public participation, voting for better leaders when the one man one vote is introduced, using their skills to promote made-in Somalia products of different nature, third youths can also advance national unity by erasing the clan narrative that has divided the country for years.
Yet, its result has been suffering and misery. Promoting national unity can be done in several ways, and youths have the energy, motivation, and innovation to do it for the country. Therefore, when planning and designing the future of Somalia, it is essential to rethink objectively; what, how, when, where, and why it is critical to have the youths take an active role.
Dr. Mohamed BINCOF is a Ph.D. in Political Science and Public Administration, a university lecturer, and a Specialist in governance, strategy, and politics. you can reach him at email: firstname.lastname@example.org