MOGADISHU (HAN) July 9.2016. Public Diplomacy & Regional Security News. By Joachim Buwembo. How would you advise a 55-year-old son who has not yet decided what to do in life and goes around begging in the neighbourhood even though you have bequeathed him fertile lands with precious minerals beneath the surface?
Let us dispense with the imagery. If I were in a position to address and advise the African Union Summit today, this is what I would tell them.
“Dear leaders who hold the destiny of our beloved continent in your hands, Your Excellencies. Stop panicking because funding from abroad for our peacekeeping operation in Somalia is drying up. Before you look for another foreign power to finance Amisom, listen to me for five minutes.
“The money to sustain peace in Somalia can be made from Somalia itself. Here is a little pilot project that I propose you try immediately.
Without wasting time, Your Excellencies, you must urgently set up an AU Authority for Somalia (AUSA), a country with an area of nearly 650,000 square kilometres that also commands over 3,000 kilometres of coastline on the Indian Ocean.
Let AUSA lease 1,000sq km commanding maybe 160km of coastline and turn them into the richest production area on earth. “Your Excellencies, you are the cream of 54 countries so you have the confidence to take bold steps.
Each of your governments can invest $20 million in the AUSA and the over one billion dollars of capital so raised should kick-start a highly profitable, corruption-free economic zone.
“Dear Excellencies, the pilot zone can host different economic activities and leverage its location to run strategic and profitable operations for commerce, maritime and aviation ventures linking the world’s newest economic frontier called Africa and the rest of the planet. But first, the Authority must enhance intra-Africa trade.
“Since the rest of the world’s governments and multilateral agencies are likely to come up with a hundred and one reasons why this will not work, we must get the sovereign state of Somalia to underwrite all the activities of the AUSA, and enter into bilateral and multilateral agreements with the rest of the world agencies and countries as a state.
On the other hand, I do not see Mogadishu becoming so greedy as to try to take over the Authority’s assets and operations after say, five years, even with safeguards in the AUSA charter.
And even if they did, they would just have to pay back the AU’s $1 billion with a huge interest and start guaranteeing their own security.
“All I can say is that any member state of the AU that does not like the idea risks losing out on the huge profits to be made by AUSA, profits that will be shared between the AU and the nation of Somalia.
And if you don’t like my plan, then just raise the one billion from $20 million pocket change from each of your governments and give it to Mogadishu, with only one condition, that the AU oversee the implementation of profitable projects that will pay for Somalia’s peace.
“Thank you for your five minutes!”