Somailand Update: Total Disaster, Education and Health Progress, Case Study of Successful Businessman

Total Disaster For Total Mer Rouge SA

Total Mer Rouge SA lost its contract for providing oil storage for the nation of Somaliland after not importing any oil into the nation for the past two years, Bloomberg reports [1]. Such an outcome, although not unexpected, is still a total disaster for the company, as the contract was revoked or nonperformance by Somaliland’s president Silanyo.

It seems a little baffling that a Paris-based company, with its local branch based in Ethiopia, couldn’t get its act together and import oil from *somewhere* in two whole years. After all, oil is not terribly far from Somaliland–some of it sits right off the coast, and there is plenty more in South Sudan and the Persian Gulf regions, none of which are very far from Somaliland either. One wonders what the point in having a contract is if you are unwilling to fulfill it. Small wonder the Somaliland parliament refused to renew the contract themselves.

Education And Health Gains In Somaliland Over The Past Twenty Years

Despite some major challenges, the biggest among them being the lack of recognition from the international community for its legitimate independence, Somaliland247 reports that Somaliland has made some major progress in key areas of education and health care over its two decades as an independent country [2]. It is worthwhile to examine some of these gains in some greater detail.

Let’s note some of the positives and some of the challenges faced. In 1991, Somaliland had a 20% literacy rate, which has now more than doubled to 45% (though there’s still a long way to go to reach the levels of the developed world). Not surprisingly, the number of schools has more than doubled as well from 219 total schools of all levels to over 500 primary schools alone. It would seem that the greater number of schools providing more coverage in the nation is responsible for the increased education level of Somaliland children. It would appear the adults of the country are not sufficiently well-educated themselves to be starting a movement for home schooling as of yet.

As far as health is concerned, Somaliland has made some major improvements. By de-mining large areas that were mined during the nation’s ten-year long struggle for independence, one of the biggest threats to the health of Somaliland’s citizens has been removed, and more land has been opened for grazing for the nation’s livestock. Additionally, Somaliland has made itself almost entirely malaria-free within the past couple of years, another major and enviable improvement in health for a part of the world that can use any good news it can find.

Additionally, Somaliland’s mature political institutions, which have allowed for numerous peaceful transfers of power between political candidates of different political parties, with a widespread respect for the constitution of Somaliland, shows that Somaliland has a record of democratic culture that few other nations in the continent of Africa can match (perhaps only Ghana has a record of the same kind of stability over the past decade as a democracy within Africa). All of that points up to some progress, along with plenty of room to go to achieve its goals of international recognition and the full development of the capacity of its resourceful people.

Case Study: Home-Grown Money Transfer Company Serves The Somali Diaspora

Financial Times has an excellent interview (linked also to Somaliland247[3]) that shows an amazing story of success for a Somaliland businessman who used hard work determination, and skills learned from his family to develop a massive and internationally respected money transfer service that helps send remittances to Somalia (especially Somaliland) from the massive Somali diaspora. There are a lot of lessons that can be learned from the success of Abdirashid Duale, CEO of Dahabshiil, which not only engages in remittances, but also SMS services, ATMs, and which is currently constructing the first full-service bank in Hargeisa, Somaliland’s national capitol.

Mr. Duale started young, honing his skills at customer service and entrepreneurship at an early age in his parent’s store. While his brothers played sports, he learned how to make money. His company’s rise to prominence has not been without some bumpy spots either–the death of two of his employees from a terrorist attack forced the closure of half the company’s Mogadishu offices. Their loss. If you want money transferred, you have to respect the people willing to bring the money to you.

Interestingly enough, Mr. Duale found a way to make money without interest (which would violate Sharia, and biblical, law) from his father’s example. The money transfer business started because the family business of importing shoes required hard money to buy shoes in Yemen, and because the Somali diaspora wanted to send money home to relatives. By making a cut on the exchange rate and selling the shoes for a profit, Mr. Duale was able to greatly increase his profits without charging interest for the money transfer. This basic strategy of making small profits on the cut of large amounts of money (sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time) has allowed Dahabshiil to cut a very powerful figure in the Somali business scene.

Most impressively is Mr. Duale’s attention to international laws and regulations–at an early stage in his company’s growth he hired a good accounting firm as well as bought a book on how to do business in twelve European countries, working his way through business regulations in Europe to do business the right way, above board and entirely legal. This attention to law and regulations, along with a refusal to work with terrorists and pirates, has given the Somaliland firm a sterling reputation internationally and allowed it to escape bad press and political fallout (hurting the bottom line) in a way that some of its less moral competitors have suffered from. Mr. Duale has shown Somaliland a great example in how morality and hard work, as well as good customer service (even working through Faceboook and Twitter), can pay off in a big way. A lot of companies outside of Somaliland could stand to learn from the example.




About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in International Relations, Somaliland and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Somailand Update: Total Disaster, Education and Health Progress, Case Study of Successful Businessman

  1. Pingback: A Modest Proposal For A Plebiscite To Resolve The Status Of The Republic Of Somaliland | Edge Induced Cohesion

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