Somalia’s biggest donor, the European Union, has pledged increased support for the new government of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.
New EU special envoy to Somalia Veronique Lorenzo told The EastAfrican that the successful outcome of the elections makes relations with Somalia much easier and that their focus will now be on investment, infrastructure development and the delivery of basic services.
“The new president represents a fresh beginning with a lot of popular support. We have already held three meetings with him and agreed that he needs to succeed. However, everybody knows that security remains the main challenge because it is not just about putting soldiers on the ground; it is a complex undertaking that needs serious plans for local governance and establishment of local administration to bring about some predictability,” said Ms Lorenzo.
Prior to the elections, the donors helped Somalia come up with The Somali National Development Plan (NDP) 2017-2019, to accelerate socio-economic transformation in terms of poverty alleviation, economic revival and societal transformation through gender parity.
The EU remains the biggest funder of security reforms such as stipends for the police; training of the Somalia National Army (SNA) and marines; paying 80 per cent of the stipend for the 21,000 African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) troops, besides institutions of governance, education and agriculture.
Ms Lorenzo said that since 2008, the EU has pumped $1.3 billion into Somalia through various financial sources. A large part of the EU development funding to Somalia is financed by the European Development Fund (EDF) that since 2014 has committed $301 million to security and peacebuilding, food security and resilience and education sectors.
Official corruption and lack of oversight mechanisms in the financial institutions in the donor-dependent country have been blamed for non-delivery of basic services such as health and education. However, Somalia’s inflation rate remains low at two per cent.
Since 2013, major donors have supported the establishment of government systems and institutions in the public sector, while the International Monetary Fund has initiated a Fund Monitoring Programme to improve governance and fiscal management, strengthen institutions and foster financial sector development.
Additional EU support to Somalia is channelled through other initiatives such as the Africa Peace Facility — which funds Amisom — the Global Public Goods and Challenges programme, the European Instruments for Democracy and Human Rights and three Common Security and Defence Policy missions (EUCAP Nestor, EU Naval Force Atlanta and the EU training Mission in Somalia).
Following the presidential election on February 8, the Somalia parliament confirmed Hassan Ali Khaire as the new prime minister. He is now expected to appoint a Cabinet in the next two weeks, which will then be approved by parliament.
President Farmajo, though coming in with much more popularity than any other president in the past ten years, will be facing many challenges such as the security threat posed by Al Shabaab, official corruption, striking a working relationship with the five federal regions, and the emerging devastating drought.