The Role of Turkey in Somalia’s State-building Processes
Mr. Ali Maskan, Deputy Director of TIKA (Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency) highlighted the strategic position of Somalia as a country with a long coastline and near to the Bab-Almendab strategic strait, the entry and the exit of the Red Sea and their implications for world security.
According to Mr. Maskan, this strategic location could be among the causes of the Somali dilemma. In addition, he talked about the historical relations between the countries in the region, especially those which lie on the Red Sea shore and the Ottoman Empire which indicate the historical importance of the region.
Turkey’s involvement in 2011 aimed to break the stereotype towards Somalia by helping to connect Somalia to the world through Turkish Airways and through other privately-owned Turkish firms. Also, he mentioned that they involved building infrastructure by reconstructing roads in the capital, rehabilitating hospitals and schools and governmental offices.
One of the two outstanding infrastructural projects is the rehabilitation of the Recep Tayyip Erdogan Hospital, the most modern hospital in Somalia and East Africa, and the new building for the Somali Parliament, which is expected to be finished in the near future. Also, the Turkish government represented by TIKA is involved in capacity building programs for bureaucracy, security personnel and military. TIKA also supported a lot of young Somalis technically and financially to make them self-dependent rather than waiting on others.
Aid for Development: The Role of Turkish Diyanet Foundation
Mr. Salahattin Karabostan of the Turkish Diyanet Foundation, a charity established in 1975, has worked all around the world to help people in need of aid and support. The Diyanet Foundation has worked on making it possible for millions to have the opportunity to have wells for clean water supply, food aid, Ramazan and Kurban feasts support and gifts.
Also, Diyanet works on establishing education centers in places where people don’t have schools. The Diyanet Foundation offers people to have also mosques so that they can perform their prayers in the most comfortable way.
The Diyanet Foundation operations in Somalia can be categorized into two groups:
The first group is related to helping the Somali people perform their religious deeds in the best way possible by establishing or renovating mosques and education centers. For example, Diyanet undertook the renovation of the Abdiaziz Mosque in Mogadishu in 2015.
The second group of activities is related to helping people receive assistance in their basic needs. Diyanet has helped in the digging of 10 wells so that a large number of Somali people have clean water to drink. Also, we support education as a factor for development; we have education centers, and we bring thousands of students, hundreds of who are Somalis. We give them scholarships, hostels and health services so that they can be educated as best as possible.
Shifting from Humanitarian or Vertical Programs to a Sustainable Health System in Somalia
Mr. Abdinasir Mohamed, a young public health researcher from London Imperial College, highlighted ‘moving from humanitarian to a sustainable health system in Somalia.’ The health system is composed of human resources: doctors, midwives, nurses and other staff; health information system: data, financing, service delivery point: hospitals, maternal and child centers, etc., medical equipment and technology; management.
The health system in Somalia used to be operated by the Ministry of Health. When the government collapsed, there was a gap in the health system. Although there were a lot of health service points, they lacked the proper and reliable infrastructure and worked ad hoc. There was no structure, no regulatory bodies and no plans, no sustainable finance.
It is recommended that donor management must change, such that the aid for Somalia can be used more independently and ensure that incoming aid goes toward areas in need of critical relief without pressure from donors. There is an exit strategy needed for INGOs UN.
Turkish–Somali health partnerships: considerations for mutually beneficial relations
Ms. Hamdi Issa, a PhD candidate at Imperial College, London highlighted the basics of health partnership between Turkey and Somalia in terms of knowledge diffusion and healthcare innovation with the aim of moving towards mutually beneficial partnerships.
The parameters of the 2011 famine, where Turkey was the traditional donor and Somalia as the traditional recipient, a scenario that was fitting at that time, must change to even the playing field for a mutually beneficial partnership as these partners move to implement future development programs with sustainability considerations. In the realm of rethinking the Turkish Somali partnership in terms of development after seven years of cooperation, the aid model that was utilized at that time should not fit the development partnership paradigm if the aim is to launch the basic building blocks of a mutual partnership with sustainable impact.
The international system of global health space is characterized by the unidirectional flow of human resources, knowledge and finances. For decades, governments of richer countries have mobilized themselves to send significant funding and resources to countries in the global south to support their fragile states.
However, in the global health space, there were narratives about reciprocity, co-development and shared learning which started to gain more momentum. There is a great deal in how rich countries can learn from poorer ones. From this perspective, the Turkish Somali partnership in the health sector should be based on a mutual learning experience since good ideas are good ideas irrespective of their source. There is a Universal ambition for emphasis on preventative medicine, empowering patients in their own care, streamlining delivery and ensuring accessible and affordable care pathways.
High-income countries and their health professionals should seriously rethink their way of engaging with low-income countries and the pervasive desire to impose ideas, solutions and ethos onto countries of the global south that creates a tendency to overlook any innovations or resource savviness occurring in those settings.
Trade and Development
Abdirazak Yusuf, a Co-founder of the SAHAN Group, discussed issues about trade relations between Turkey and Africa, especially Somalia. He commenced his speech by displaying how the trade relations between Turkey and Africa have been gradually growing since the ruling AK party came to power in 2002. He told that there had been a revival in Turkey`s relations with Africa since 1998. 2005 was declared as the African year and was initially rather passive. After 2005, this became a massive effort to develop relations with the whole continent.
From that time, Turkish airways started to expand to destinations shunned by others, and currently, it operates more than 50 routes from Istanbul across Africa. The reoccurring visits of the Republic of Turkey to Africa culminated in bilateral relations with Africa.
The trade volume between Turkey and African jumped from 5 billion dollars in 2002 to more than 20 billion dollars in 2018 which means a four-fold increase within a few years. Turkey`s value investments in Africa reached nearly 10 billion dollars, where one country in East Africa like Ethiopia witnessed an investment value reaching 1.5 billion by the Turkish government and businesses by employing the local labour force, using home-produced resources and exporting the final products.
Turkish firms are contributing significantly to Africa’s development, while at the same time benefitting from opportunities in the world’s fastest-growing continent.
Turkey’s exports to Somalia are worth more than 140 million dollars, and it imports nearly one million dollars from Somalia. This huge trade in balance between the two countries should be mitigated by motivating more holistic trade policies where Somalis could also get access to the Turkish markets. Implementing the dozens of memorandums and agreements inked by the two governments since 2011 in the area of energy, mines, electricity, higher education, agriculture, and maritime affairs and fishery will foster more balance and interdependence between the two countries.
Turkish Humanitarian Operations in Somalia
Mr. Faruk Aksoy presented how the Turkish Red Crescent conducted humanitarian interventions in more than 140 countries over the last one hundred and fifty years. With its head of delegation offices in eight countries, including Somalia and South Sudan, the TRC has been involved in disaster and emergency response activities in these and other countries in the globe.
He mentioned that the Turkish Red Crescent established its delegation in Somalia in 2011 where it participated in the distribution of humanitarian needs for Somalis in the area affected by drought.
Viability of Tourism in Somalia
Mr. Ahmed Kotar, a business developer from East Africa, analysed the tourism sector and its director service providers and supportive governmental institutions. He emphasized the indispensability of security for the tourism sector to flourish. Also, he mentioned the existence of tourism potential in Somalia if the required political and economic conditions are prepared.