Last week, two bomb blasts were experienced in Somalia. Despite pockets of explosions being perpetrated by Al Shabaab group, peace is gradually returning to the one time war-torn country, especially in the capital city, Mogadishu. Commercial activities, including nightlife, schools and government agencies have resumed.
African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) confirmed that it was no longer business as usual for Al Shabaab as it has totally reclaimed Mogadishu from the group. Head of the African mission in Somalia, Ambassador Francisco Madeira, said serious progress had been made by the African mission comprising Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Sierra Leone, which contributed a total number of 189 policemen to train and retrain Somalia police.
He said: “You have come at the time when the focus of the mission is on the transition. Our mandate in Somalia was renewed by the United Nations Security Council until May 2019, in its resolution 2431 of 2018. This same resolution agreed with the position of the African Union that the withdrawal of AMISOM from Somalia should be conducted in gradual and pushed manner, to ensure that the security gains made so far are not lost.
“The drawdown from Somalia began in December 2017, with 1000 troops withdrawn. And it will continue with the withdrawal of another 1000 at the end of February 2019. In line with the transition plan, our current priorities include the capture of the territory that remains under the control of Al Shabaab, specifically the Jubba Valley. This will be through joint operations with the Somali National Army and Somali Police Force.
“We have to clear the major roads linking cities. Even though the major towns are liberated from Al Shabaab control, the terrorists continue to hide in remote areas. We need to clear those routes to allow free movement of people and goods. The training and mentorship for the Somali National Army and Somali Police Force continues as a key priority. This has been ongoing, but will be intensified. All these are undertaken in addition to the continued support for the Federal Government of Somalia as well as the federal and state governments jointly working towards a safer and more secured Somalia.”
Madeira stated that Somalia has experienced economic boom, adding that Somalis are returning home, as the real estate sector booms. The country’s economy, he said, is being assessed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is supporting effort towards the implementation of key reforms, including introduction of a new currency. He also said that the war-torn country, with decades of no education, is finding its feet as 23,000 students sat for this year’s secondary school examination.
“In terms of social services, key sectors such as education are showing signs of hope for the first time in decades. In June 2016, an estimated 7,000 took part in the national exams for secondary schools for the first time in 25 years. This year, the number of students more than doubled with 23,000 students sitting for the exams.