The Debate on Somalia’s Energy Future


Oil exploration in SomaliaBy Liban Ahmad

The idea that Somalia’s energy resources should not be decided upon by regional administrations but by the federal government is appealing to many people. It is an impracticable and impractical suggestion. The East African Energy Forum thinks otherwise. The forum suggests that all past deals should be subject to renewal and that all regional governments should work with the ‘central government’ as far as the energy policy is concerned . “There is neither time nor room for their “one foot in, one foot out” strategy when it comes to dealing with Mogadishu.

You are either in the federation or you are out, full stop,” wrote Abdillahi Mohamud, managing director of East Africa Energy Forum, a self-styled Somali Diaspora group.

The parliament Mr Mohamud has in mind is the federal parliament of Somalia. Some of MPs are suspected war criminals. Mohamed Qanyare Afrah, an MP, was a member of United Somali Congress Executive committee which mobilised, funded and directed USC militias behind massacres and looting in Mogadishu after the military dictatorship was overthrown.

Another reason a Mogadishu-based federal government cannot dictate to a regional administrations is that the capital is a home to people who live in illegal houses. Illegally occupied houses was briefly addressed during the reign of the Union of Islamic Courts ( June-December 2006).

It is absurd to talk about natural wealth of country when citizens cannot honestly talk about looted properties and people who encouraged, committed and condoned lawlessness when the very aim of United Somali Congress was to replace a dictatorship government with a government for the people by the people. The military government was replaced by a government for the clan militias and by the clan militia.

The Draft constitution states the federal government should negotiate with the regional administrations on natural resources. Misuse of power by the executive power in Mogadishu partly caused the civil war and the state collapse. The Triumphant armed opposition groups intensified the civil war because opposition leaders thought power in Mogadishu meant power all over the country ( remember Ali Mahdi and Aideed power struggles in 1990s). By being out of touch with history and reality the East African Energy Forum has taught many people, including me, how not to start energy debate on Somalia.

Liban Ahmad