It is a privilege to address you all at this esteemed faculty. Thank you Professor Annarita Puglielli, I am honoured to be invited as a guest speaker by this prestigious University.
I am pleased that your University is conducting studies on Somali Language and cultural projects. I hope to see qualified support for your endeavour by Italian general public and by the Italian Government.
The relationship between Somalia and Italy is long and fascinating. But we are all of a new generation and perhaps our tendency is to look back at those colonial days with a mixture of anxiety and fondness. Somalis are proud of their connection with Italy and whilst it is the unavoidable truth that our country has descended to ruin, and that much of the Italian legacy has been destroyed, from these ruins, with your help once again, we can rise and re-form a strong and forward thinking nation.
We could spend the whole of this time today looking back through history trying to determine the causes of our problems, but the truth is that the solutions lie in the here and now.
We are now almost exactly 20 years since the overthrow of Said Barre, and the perceived starting point for our current troubles. In that time Somalia has been wracked by anarchy and chaos. Almost every Somali has been hurt, physically or emotionally. There is no one who has not been affected. Our people are exhausted and desperate. Poverty, fighting and chaos are exhausting. Our people are surviving on wits and raw courage.
Mogadishu is not a pretty sight, but I can say to you that there is a glimmer of hope. For out of those ruins emerge stories of heroism and people simply determined not to be defeated. I see a city trying to burst into life and it is that which inspires me to help.
As I see it, the triggers for our nation’s re-birth are leadership, security, economics and governance.
We can deal with leadership quickly and simply. My new government were initially criticised for being too technocratic and too remote from recent Somali affairs. But these are our strengths. From the start, the question of leadership is simple – it is about the people and the country, not about us. If we lead by example and show we care in everything we say and do, then slowly others will follow. If we are incorruptible, then we cannot be twisted to the agendas of others. We have to apply our technocratic expertise to the development of process which delivers resources and support direct to the people.
It will not be an overnight transformation, but with courage and determination, we can set a new and honourable standard. We can establish trusted relationships with donors and the wider international community. Without the ability to be trusted, we are nothing.
So to that end, we have, within our first month in office, paid our troops, established an anti-corruption commission, declared our wealth, implemented a detailed budget and recorded all state assets. Together they are a clear statement of a new integrity and leadership.
It has always been necessary for Somalia to demonstrate leadership and commitment to earn the trust and support of the world. I am not here to comment on the past, I am here simply to tell you that this Government is ready to lead the country out of its current dilemma.
When we consider security, we must acknowledge one simple thing. Government is hard enough in peaceful, stable countries. It is next to impossible when you are being mortared and shot at. So when we say that governance is dependent upon security, we have good reason. It is not an excuse. It is a reality. The title of my address today is 'Governance and Development of Institutional Capacity-Building in Somalia'. Well, there will be no governance and no institution building without security.
To that end, therefore, we are incredibly grateful for the support of the African Union and our brothers from Uganda and Burundi, who provide the AMISOM troops. Somalis do depend upon their courage and professionalism. It is they who provide an ever growing secure zone within which government and society can emerge.
To put things into context, however, it is worth looking at relative strengths. The current African Union mission, AMISOM, was initially given 8,000 troops.
Previous interventions in Somalia had much more in terms of men and equipment available to them. For example, UNOSOM II, whose mandate was somewhat similar to AMISOM's, had a strength of 28,000 personnel, including 20,000 troops and 8,000 logistic and civilian staff.
In Iraq, which is roughly two-thirds the size of Somalia, at the height of the 'surge' the US had nearly 160,000 troops on the ground supported by a further 100,000 deployed in the region providing theatre-wide support. These troops were there to give the Iraqis, in the words of President George W. Bush, “breathing room” to achieve national reconciliation.
This translated to 1 soldier on the ground for every 187 Iraqis. In Somalia, AMISOM is being expected to do much the same job with a ratio of just 1 soldier to every 1,125 Somalis.
Our forces, with the support of AMISOM, are, however, winning the security battle. Gradual and incremental though it may be, the secure space in Mogadishu grows weekly. That is the nature of urban conflict when protection of civilians is as important as expelling insurgents. While about 60% of the city of Mogadishu is now recognisably under TFG control, 80% of the population now live in our areas and this is the real measure of our success. The people of Mogadishu have overwhelmingly voted with their feet and moved to the more secure Government controlled areas of the City.
The additional 4,000 troops mandated to AMISOM, and the return of 1,000 TFG soldiers from EU funded training in Uganda, will have a dramatic impact on this process and we welcome their earliest arrival.
Governance depends upon security, so I make these points simply to show that if security is delivered at this minimalist pace, then governance will be equally slow to recover. You cannot re-seed governance while the garden is being blown up and the gardeners are been shot at.
Economy and Governance.
Fundamentally, however, we must appreciate that extremism cannot be defeated by guns and missiles alone. Yes, greater security capability is required, but it must come within a holistic regeneration plan. People and communities currently playing host to Al Shabab must see a government making progress, offering a credible alternative and leading the way to peace and prosperity. People must have confidence in the alternative and they must see the government as providing all those civil amenities and services that are currently lacking. An insurgency needs chaos, discontent and poverty and we must take that away.
The restoration of security can succeed only within an effective rehabilitation of the nation’s economy. If we are going to drive people to do something different, they must be able to see and experience that the alternative is better for them, their families and their communities.
The choice must never be simply between fighting or being dependent on the state; the choice must be between fighting and working. Since the dawn of time, commercial activity and the prospect of an improving standard of living has driven societies forward, and that basic premise is no different in Somalia today.
We do not want years of charity. We do not seek donations. We seek space for our enterprising population to return home and establish flourishing businesses as they have done around the world. We seek people, corporations or governments ready to play a crucial role in the reconstruction of our country and the restoration of a buoyant economy that attracts our people into work, gives them hope and gives them a future.
Our vision is that we will quickly fledge into a stable and secure government catering to the needs of our people and capable of providing services to them. This is undoubtedly an ambitious vision, especially when you consider our starting point.
Somalia has lost a generation or more of local political and government expertise. We certainly need help to re-educate and train our officials and politicians. It is our hope that we might forge strong relationships with Universities, like this one, who can help our emerging generation to recover the educational standards which we need.
It may be a low base but with determination and the support of our old allies and mentors we can return to the days when Mogadishu was a free and vibrant city and Somalia was an economic beacon in Africa.
We can show that we have a coherent and transparent programme for the future and that despite the most difficult of circumstances, we can lay the foundations for a secure government.
Our political development will not always be pretty, but given time within a secure environment and with the support of the international community to help rebuild our institutions; Somalis will lead Somalia out of its darkest days.