Oil drilling operations have started in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland. It is a region which is relatively stable compared with the other regions of Somalia and is located in northeastern Somalia. Unlike neighboring Somaliland, Puntland doesn’t seek outright independence from Somalia. The Canadian firm Africa oil carrying out the project have estimated that there are about 3-4 billion barrels of oil which can generate up to $1.9trillion in revenues. This revenue is significant and if managed properly can change and transform the fate of Puntland and Somalia as a whole for good.
It is imperative that we look back and see what had happened mostly in Africa when natural resources were discovered. As we know Africa as a continent has along history of resources becoming a curse. Rather than utilizing from these resources and the wealth generated trickling down to the people and becoming a cure for the socio-economic and political problems that exist on the continent, it made the politicians greedy and corrupt, caused wars and widened the gap between the poor and the rich.
Statistics show the growth of African countries that don’t export Oil have been growing while the growth of those that export oil have declined. This is due to the excessive dependency on the revenues from the oil sector. Many of the employees of these countries rush to work in the oil industry while abandoning the more crucial sectors of the economy such as agriculture and fishing which most of these countries depend on.
The Somali people have suffered for a long time. We should take advantage of this opportunity. It is time to unite, move forward and rebuild our country. We should learn from our mistakes and the lessons of history and never let history repeat it’s self. Before any of the oil is being brought to the open the government should establish a system that is transparent, fair and accountable. A system that enables every citizen to have an equal share of the pie. The revenues generated from this natural resource should be used in an efficient and effective manner and they should be used in the creation, development and building of infrastructures such as:
- Schools & universities
- hospitals, housing for the poor
- And other public and private institutions
- future-generations fund
We should all strive to be better citizens and give our support to a government that is of the people, for the people and by the people and make sure that our new found wealth doesn’t lead to curse but helps us in eliminating the suffering of the Somali people and paves the way for a long-lasting unity, peace and prosperity. Ameen.