Somalia must work closely with its neighbours – Senator Ayub Ismail

Somali president (Left) Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo holds press conference with the Ethiopian Premier (Right) Abiy Ahmed. Photo credit: Villa Somalia

The visit of the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed last week promises to further strengthen the relations between Somalia and Ethiopia. Ethiopia is still misunderstood by some in Somalia but it is an influential neighbour with a growing economy and land border with Somalia that must be engaged purposefully for there to be a win-win long term outcome for the two peoples of our respective countries.

Somalia is proudly on the way back to normality from over 20 years of violence and chaos brought about by a painful civil war. Ethiopia is also undergoing economic and political reforms which gives our two sides an opportunity to learn from each other in our individual but interconnected journey to development.

Somalia and its neighbours in the Horn of Africa are engaged in a successful war against international terrorism in Somalia as part of the African Union Mission (AMISOM). Many of our brothers within the AMISOM Troop Contributing Countries have lost brave soldiers alongside our own security services and people in this valiant fight against mindless violence driven by a false interpretation of our beautiful and peaceful Islamic religion. While this fight must go on until the Somali National Army is fully equipped, trained and effectively financed to fully take over from AMISOM, opportunities for economic partnerships must not be wasted to make security gains sustainable.

Ethiopia and Somalia’s economic future are intertwined. The Ethiopian economy has been growing for the last decade due to great stability while Somalia has been trying to find its feet and generate greater domestic revenue. With a population of over a 100 million and no ports to import or export from, Ethiopia and Somalia will be wise to collaborate on an economic strategy promoting free trade which is in both their nations interests.

Ethiopia and Somalia have strong people to people relations and Ethiopian Airlines has an opportunity to capitalise on this by starting operations from Mogadishu. With a mobile Somali Diaspora, the opportunities will be more lucrative for the long term for Ethiopian Airlines.

Sadly, despite the extensive efforts of both governments over the years, it seems as though the ghost of the 1977 war still lurks in the minds of both the Somali and Ethiopian people. While regular exchanges of high level delegations helps to improve relations, greater and far quicker impact will be achieved with a cross border project or partnership which touches both peoples lives. In the end, it is the people and their positive engagements that build bridges of friendship, trust and prosperity across borders.

Ayuub Ismail is a Somali Senator who is a member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. Before this, he was a Somali Diplomat with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect whatsoever the official policy or position of Ummadda Media.