Somaliland: While the Informal Sector Drives Economic Growth, the Diaspora is an Active Partner in the Quest for Recognition-Prof Eid

Prof Eid Ali-inset says the government must harness the informal sector for a sustainable economic growth in Somaliland

Somalilandsun: It is a fact that over 75% of the GNP of Somaliland is generated from informal trade and economy while more than 75% of the working population is employed in this sector.

On issues foreign policy and the quest for international recognition of Somaliland the strengthening of working relations between the Hargeisa based ministry of foreign affairs and citizens in the Diaspora would complement the very successful campaign by State.

This was stated by Prof Eid Ali Ahmed during a live interview the HCTV in the capital Hargeisa where discussions revolved around the Somaliland Economy and foreign policy

Hargeisa-Central-Market in Somaliland where 75% of citizens are gainfully employed by the informal sector

The Professor is a Briton of local origin who has a wide experience in international banking, is currently a consultant to the Somaliland Ministry of Interior, Central Bank and associate consultant of Africa Entrepreneurship Centre in Cardiff.

On the economic front Prof Eid who referenced  the findings of  the  2018 Somaliland Informal Trade and Economy Study said that in Hargeisa and to an extend nationwide Somaliland, the  private sector is dominated by Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, many of which are informal (MSMEs), accounting for about 77% of the total employment

Journalist Saeed Aden Jama and Prof Eid Ali Ahmed at the HCTV studio in Hargeisa

The study that examined the role of the informal economy in recovery from civil war in Hargeisa and current development challenges in which Prof Eid and Cardiff University’s Prof Alison Brown were lead researchers, was  undertaken in 2016 with support from Ukaid, Cardiff University, Golis University, Somaliland Ministry of planning and the Somaliland Non State Actors Forum-SONSAF.

The research explored the role of the urban informal economy in poverty-reduction, peace-building and development in post-conflict cities, and its scope to provide livelihoods for the extreme poor and a platform for economic recovery.

“Hargeisa was selected for the research because of its extraordinary transformation as a modern city emerged from civil war. After a 10-year struggle, when thousands were killed, Somaliland finally declared independence from Somalia in 1991” said Prof Eid adding that of particular interest was the clan-led peace and reconciliation process, and its success in establishing a functioning government”

Stating that the study addressed three key questions in Hargeisa namely  How does the informal economy operate in Hargeisa today and what are its current challenges and problems?,  How can support for the informal economy contribute to core development initiatives of poverty reduction and economic growth? And how did the informal economy respond during and after the conflict, and what were its contributions to improved development outcomes? The British Somalilander banker was quick to commend the government for the gradual implementation of the report’s recommendations

Researchers Prof Alison Brown and Prof Eid Ali at the presentation report of Somaliland Informal Trade and Economy Study   in Hargeisa Somaliland

Stressing that the informal economy-IE  thrives in Hargeisa where it employs at least 77% of the city’s workforce, a countrywide reflection” Prof Eid said that this is as a result of high levels of mutual trust amongst actors in the sector as well as much lower levels of harassment than elsewhere in Africa.

Accordingly the government having acknowledged this fact thus subsequent policy changes are empirically verifiable and if another study is undertaken it will surely indicate an increase from the nationwide employment rate of 77% opinionated the banker.

Said he, Despite the growing importance of the Informal sector as the main driver of the national economic growth through generation of over 70% of the GNP of Somaliland informal economy workers continued to be constrained by a number of key challenges, namely Lack of literacy and business skills, Difficulties with infrastructure and operating spaces and lack of access to finance

Somaliland people hold a giant banner in front of UK Parliament. — Thousands of Somaliland people gather at Parliament to lobby MPs regarding international recognition of Somaliland. Somaliland is an unrecognized self-declared sovereign state that is internationally recognized as an autonomous region of Somalia.
Thousands of Somaliland nationals lobby at UK Parliament-archives-18th May 2011

Though the government is gradually integrating the IE sector in policy and subsequent implementation especially the reining-in of formally runaway exchange rates, Prof Eid urged for expedited establishment of commercial banking thence access to much needed financing.

For Somaliland to  fully  take advantage of the Informal Economy Prof Eid Ali Ahmed urged the government to completely  actualize the five recommendations of  the study which were increase national legitimacy & recognition of IE, strengthen voice and participation of actors, plan locally for the informal economy,  support vulnerable workers and Improving humanitarian and Development assistance to recognize how self-help and survivalist livelihoods that emerge after conflict can be the basis for economic recovery

On the Somaliland foreign policy and quest for international recognition, the banker said that all actors led by the administration of President Musa Bihi are performing perfectly as can be exemplified by the never ending foreign delegations visiting Hargeisa.

Stressing on the imperatives of enhancing cooperation between government and the powerful voice of the Somaliland diaspora in major corridors of power in Europe, the USA and Africa prof Eid is of the opinion that current gains in the Somaliland quest for international recognition can be increased and sustained.

Prof Eid-C- with all UK Parties parliamentary group for Somaliland MP Liz McInness- and MP Stephen Doughty in Hargeisa

Said he “Apart from regular visits by delegations representing world bodies and governments , recent full diplomatic relations with Taiwan, imminent Kenyan Consulate in Hargeisa among others exemplify the growing  international stature of Somaliland.

On conclusion Prof Eid said most important as the country remains a De-facto state was for the continued Citizen’s nationalism and believe in their country, The Republic of Somaliland.

Now while Lots of Somaliland cynics are currently in the warpath either in the east of the country trying to incite confrontation with Somalia’s administrative region of Puntland or in Mogadishu where they climb the rooftops to trumpet how things are going badly, there are stoics too among them Prof Eid Alisalan Ahmed whose belief in the Somaliland revival dream is contrary to that of the cynics

Prof Eid Ali presenting the first ever Somaliland central bank strategic plan he designed in Hargeisa 2017

The banker with a wide international experience culminating in a tenure position as a Manager of the Credit Department of Citibank in Saudi Arabia, completed his undergraduate studies in United States and postgraduate studies in United Kingdom and holds BSc in Accounting, BA in Economics, MBA, PGCE, and Professional Banking Diploma from UK Bankers Institute now called UK Institute of Financial Services of which he is associate member.

Eid is associate consultant of Africa Entrepreneurship Centre in Cardiff, Wales and a trustee of Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel in Cardiff, Wales is a Management, Business and Development Consultant and highly experienced Trainer. Over the years Eid has worked as university lecturer, senior director, researcher, trainer and consultant.

Pursuit and  selflessness in helping to develop his country of birth through skills transfer comes easy and has become a wake-up call or other Somalilanders in the Diaspora has ensued with Prof Eid partially decamping his Cardiff Wales home for Somaliland where he is  consultant to the  Ministry of Interior and central Bank.

Tangible of his knowledge transfer is the development of the first ever Somaliland Central Bank Strategic plan since the bank’s establishment in 1994.

During the presentation in 2018 Prof Eid Ali Ahmed said “Though our Strategic Plan 2018 – 2022 is the first ever strategic plan since the establishment of the Bank of Somaliland in 1994 it consolidates, and builds on the work of the bank for the last 24 years.

Prof Eid Ali leading from front unmasking the atrocitiies of Siad Bare against Somaliland people in Hargeisa 1989

In his adopted country, the United Kingdom the prof has become among Iconic citizens of African origin as ascertained by being named 7th out of 100 Brilliant and Iconic of Blacks in  Wales during commemorations of the 2018 Black History Month Wales.