Your Excellences and Ambassadors, Honorable Ministers, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I wish to extend a warm welcome to all of you who have travelled to Hargeisa to attend the 9th High Level Aid Coordination Forum. We are very happy with the progress we have made through the High Level Aid Coordination Forum process in the past and we hope this year will provide us with an opportunity to make further progress.
On behalf of the Somaliland Government and people, I would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to the development partners for their generous assistance to Somaliland over the years. The support you provide has brought about a transformational improvement in the quality of life of Somaliland’s citizens, and has been an essential ingredient for Somaliland’s social and economic well-being.
This year is of course a special year for Somaliland. It marks 25th year anniversary since Somalilanders exercised their right to self-determination, dissolved the failed union with Somalia on 18 May 1991 and reclaimed independence. The Somaliland inherited was one that had been ravaged by conflict and military subjugations, yet Somalilanders have overcome tremendous adversity to create a stable and enduring peace by means of a locally-driven, bottom-up approach, built a democracy in which power changes hands peacefully in elections which are monitored internationally; and put in place a system of governance which upholds the rule of law, respects human rights, and provides services to its people.
We look forward to holding elections once again in March 2017, and despite short delays in voter registration due to the drought, preparations are on track. Somaliland has done everything it can to ensure the elections take place on time, including paying additional costs due to delays caused by the drought, however, we urge donors to make good on their promise to deliver resources to support the voter registration process for the elections.
The firm foundations we have established in terms of peace, reconciliation, security and governance has produced an environment where government, civil society and international partners can work together in close cooperation to ensure development programmes can be implemented in a successful and effective manner. Our record of working successfully together is not only clear in terms of development, but across many sectors, including efforts to combat terrorism, extremism and piracy.
The Somaliland of today is very different to that of 1991. In the past Somaliland necessarily looked within itself in order to recover from conflict, to reconcile communities and develop peaceful and just institutions. We, of course, still have work to do in terms of consolidating and strengthening our institutions, but we are an entrepreneurial and outward-looking people by nature and it is time for us to focus our energies on our future and demonstrate the contribution we can make to the wider region.
The economy has a crucial role to play in this respect. And this is why I am particularly pleased to hear of the progress being made on Berbera Development Port and the Addis-Berbera Road corridor. A growing economy can not only strengthen existing state and peace-building processes, support public service delivery and legitimize public institutions, but most crucially it can tackle the ongoing crisis of youth unemployment
Youth unemployment is the greatest security challenge that not only Somaliland faces, but the entire Continent of Africa. We face a demographic bubble that could prove to be either a blessing or a curse, and we need to provide jobs for our youth to prevent them from being recruiting into criminality, militancy and extremism.
Somaliland needs to be in charge of our own development destiny to ensure we deliver the future our youths deserve, and I am very happy to see the progress made towards the new National Development Plan 2017-2021 and Somaliland Vision 2030 which will serve as a strategic framework for development partners to align with identified priority areas of Somaliland’s development.
The NDP reinforces the importance of tailoring separate aid packages for Somaliland that account for its status as a separate and distinct state at a particular stage of development. With the current NDP and Somaliland Special Arrangement coming to an end, the new National Development Plan will act as a natural replacement and improvement, guaranteeing national leadership and accountability as well as a strong spirit of international cooperation.
I also wish to say a few words about our relations with Somalia: We want to see a stable and peaceful Somalia, but we do not believe that Somaliland’s integration into Somalia is required in order for that stability and peace to be achieved. Somaliland is willing to play a role in promoting a solution, but it must be a solution built on consent and which takes into account the realities on the ground. The Republic of Somaliland has charted a separate course from Somalia and built its own democratic state. It is not part of any federal Somali state and will not participate in Somalia’s elections. The people of Somaliland chose the path of independence 25 years ago and we will not turn back. To do so would be to erase all of our hard-won successes to date, and deny our political reality.
Finally, I wish to take this opportunity to once again thank donors for the role you play in Somaliland in assisting us to bring about prosperity and opportunity for our people and the positive role you continue to play in supporting efforts to bring stability and development to the wider Horn of Africa Region.
I would like to assure you of our continuing friendship and good will, and we look forward to cooperating closely with you to ensure a future for Somaliland that is marked by peace, democracy and prosperity. Finally, I would like to offer special thanks to the Chair and Co-Chair for the tremendous efforts they have made to ensure this event is a success.