Written by William A.Twayigize
Is International Community Suddenly Interested in Reconstructing Somalia or Eager to Cash in the New Discovered Oil and Natural Gas?
For the last three years there have been speculations in the Somalia media outlets reporting that there are various Western and Asian Oil Companies that have been fighting to scramble Somalia land further after seeing signs of oil and natural gas deposits in the shores of Somalia. Some of those companies that have been mentioned in various online media is an Australian Oil firm called Red Emperor a small and unknown Australian Oil & Gas Company which is looking to find its shares in exploring natural resources in Africa. According to the Guardian online news Britain is heavily involved in a rash for oil in the country of Somalia. This would be easier for Britain because it has also bought other oil wells from Tullow in Uganda. The David Cameroon’s government has started dishing out humanitarian aid and security assistance to the country of Somalia in order to woo the current Somali government and Somali people will grant British oil companies to exploit oil and natural gas in Somalia. Whether the humanitarian aid at this time after two decades of isolating Somali people is a good thing or not that is another topic for another day.
On May 7 the UK government hosted another International Somali Conference that discussed modalities to support Somali reconstruction initiatives. Now a month after, The Federal Government of Somalia and The European Union (EU) want to co-host another Somali conference for follow up which is dubbed "The New Deal for Somalia Conference" in Brussels that will take place on September 16, as it was announced by the EU leadership on June 29, 2013. According to the EU press release, the upcoming meeting on Somalia will endorse the "New Deal Compact" that will commit the Somali people and their international partners to a set of key priorities and new support for the reconstruction of Somalia over the next 3 years.
It is good that now international community which has been keeping a blind eye on the suffering of Somali people over two decades now they want to do something about and help these young people who were born in refugee camps to go back home and have access to education and lead a normal life and have a place to call home. Though there have been skeptical people who think that the sudden western interests in Somalia is not pure, but driven by the new discovery of natural gas and oil on the shores of Somalia. Others see this new opportunities and revived interests in Somali issues as a second chance for Somali politicians to take care of the destiny of their country by investing more in establishing institutions that will manage Somali natural resources effectively and efficiently to build foundation for a future peaceful Somalia.
China, India, British, Canada, and France have been competing to earn the rights to explore oil in Somalia. This new opportunity should give not only Somali people but also all African states new bargaining powers instead of continuing to be beggars and yet what the aid and grants are coming from are African crude resources. Somali people should join hands with its neighboring countries such as Kenya that has also discovered oil in Turkana and has more probabilities of finding more oil reserves in near future, and Uganda, and the Southern Sudan to build a common oil market and invest in putting infrastructures in place so that their raw materials are processed in their own countries to create employments for their young people and also use this opportunities to learn how to effectively manage their own natural resources.
Somali people whether inside Somalia or in diaspora should understand that the International Conferences on Somali that are taking place are not bad things. At least it is a good sign to give Somali hope that now their country is making international headlines, not about piracy and Al-Shabaab but about investing in Somalia and promote peace and national reconciliation among Somali people. So is the idea of exploring, producing and utilizing Somali natural resources. It has become an African natural phenomenon that those African countries have abundance of natural resources have been more likely to suffer from underdevelopment and the worse conflict minerals than those countries that have fewer natural resources. The reasons that economists and conflict analysts give all comes to one this, which is mismanagement of natural resources, weak government, and persistent corrupt institutions among others. This is why the African Natural Resources Effective Management Institute () advise African governments to make it their priority to promote effective management of their natural resources to avoid future conflict and political instabilities.