By Dr. Suleiman Walhad
November 3rd, 2022
How do see the Horn of Africa States?
The Horn of Africa States is a vast region currently embroiled in various unnecessary civil strives, hunger and starvation, migration, and generally hopelessness on the part of the population of the region in the region itself. This is further complicated by attempts of individual countries to tackle these problems along with non-regional parties whose main goal is to draw the riches of the region to themselves without securing for the people the bread and comfort they should have in their own region. Despite this gloomy feature, we see it differently. We see a region that can move forward together out of the current backsliding it finds itself in. We see the region at the bottom of a rise, which it can easily climb should they leaders of the region decide to take the responsibility of moving it upward, in that not so steep a rise.
An Integrated Economic Community
The region has many advantages, which perhaps many others see, but which the region’s leadership, perhaps, do not see at the moment. It has a vast agricultural base with indigenous food (both seeds, and livestock) unique to the region. Note it is the home of coffee and the home of teff and the home of ensette. It has its own barley and wheat varieties endemic to the region, millet, and sorghum. It enjoys a vast farmland that can feed not only its population (currently some 160 million) but millions of others in the vicinity. It has its unique livestock such as the black-headed Somali sheep, its camels and large cattle population all endemic to the region.
But it also has an enormous coastal belt, some 4700 km, which can provide fish and seafood, perhaps the best in the world, that can feed many millions of people. It is a coast that can accommodate so many ports that can be outlets for Africa not only to bring products from other parts of the world and also export its products to them. And from here the possibility of improving the region’s infrastructure in terms of rail and roads, telecommunication, and others can be observed only by sharp minds. This huge economic bonanza can be energized by its huge hydro-power potential such as the GERD provides. We truly see an integrated economic community acting as a single market and product and services base. We see it as future highly competitive and fully integrated region that enjoys an equitable development.
The port infrastructures that would be built would assist not only in the movement of goods but also the introduction of whole new industries such as ship building and ship repairs to the region. The region should be a maritime power to be reckoned with.
A highly Interconnected Community
The region enjoys a youthful population that is large and adaptable to innovative technologies and ways of doing and administering things, where information, a major new product in the world, can be easily, exploited to move the region forward. This would assist the region’s interconnectivity, in terms of not only energy, but also information and communication technologies, tourism and servicing industries, agriculture, fishing, people movement from one part of the region to another and other sectors of the economy. Here we see a highly integrated market in terms of energy, ICTs, agriculture, fishing, tourism, science and technology, standards, compliances, and people.
The Global Economy
The world is currently interconnected and economic blocks mark it to enhance competitiveness. We see the European Union, the ASEAN, The East Africa Community, the Organization of American States, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and the Organization of Turkic States, and others. The individual countries of the region cannot compete with massive economies that are organized in blocks. The only way that the region stands a chance is to have it re-organized in the form of a block – The Horn of Africa States. This would hopefully make it a dynamic region with businesses and opportunities that compete effectively with other regions.
The Horn of Africa States enjoys common roots and people. Indeed, like any other region, history shows there were always quarrels among its peoples. But that does not negate the fact that they have a common destiny, and they can only rise from the present undesirable situation they find themselves in by working together. The region would be stronger together and it is on the onus of the leadership to take up the baton to move it forward to a better and higher plane and platform.