Freedom has been granted to the many private initiatives that are springing up all over the country. Economic growth is dependent on the productive investment of new money; only commercial banks, with sound credit facilities and adequate collateral, can meet the needs of the private enterprises which have been stultified for the last two decades.
Our task, as a government, is to encourage these enterprises, to protect their interests and the interests of the consumer, and to ensure fair trade. Company law and an investment law have been drafted and are currently before parliament, hut entrepreneurs have already taken the risk of importing electricity generators which they have reconditioned, and are now using, to supply streets and homes with electricity at reasonable rates.
External telephone and fax facilities are now available via satellite; an internal telephone system for Hargeisa has been reconditioned and overhead lines have been installed. The system is operating commercially, with the prospect of new investments to extend the system via Djibouti for overseas calls.
As evidence of the general state of security in Hargeisa, one has only to the wall; down the main street after dark: lighted shops stand with doors wide open and not a sign of a security guard, selling a profusion of gold jewelry. Some items are produced domestically, others are imported from the Gulf. The past three decades have shown the failure of centralized economies. With the support and help of donors and investors and the cooperation of our government. The creative energy and talents of Somalilanders will be set free; this can be used to rebuild the country and make a prosperous future.
Only a few Somalis in the public service sector can be paid wages, because of the limited revenue available to the government: revenue will increase as other sources are tapped. In the meantime, a large number of schools have already opened. Thousands of students, girls and boys of all ages, sit on empty milk-powder cans, while qualified teachers use homemade blackboards for instruction.
There is such demand for English and arithmetic, and computer training for the older students, that schools operate on a shift system. School fees are around $7-10 a month for each student; about one-third of the students are usually unable to pay, but they are not turned away from the classrooms. In the hospitals, too, Somali doctors and nurses care for patients for little or no compensation: such is the spirit of self-help, the determination to be self-reliant.
Self-help is nurtured on hope, however, and hope must be based on reality. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that there are no false hopes. This needs guidance and the dissemination of information.
Here we face a great handicap, for much of what we are trying to do cannot be effectively conveyed country-wide in the absence of a broadcasting system. A radio station would be an enormous help as an instrument of stabilization and as a means of rebutting lies and unfounded rumors, which can run unchecked in the absence of correct information. Through a radio, we could inculcate peace and solidarity.
Elders have to travel hundreds of kilometers to deliver a speech which could be broadcast. We also need to explain how regional and district councils should function; the importance of revenue collection; our constitutional proposals, the building of new institutions, both public and private. We do our best to carry out these important functions, traveling by road, but this is expensive both in time and money.
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