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Bridging Loan for Somalia’s WB Debt Relief Via Norway

Mohamed Ibrahim
Friday October 18, 2019

Somalia’s PM and Finance Minister are in Washington today for the WB/IMF Annual meeting. This is not the first time Somali delegation attends this yearly meeting, some called it talkfest!.  However, this time the Somali delegation is about to deliver different narrative which includes discussions on debt relief for Somalia. This is a very interesting and timely issue; a positive step we should all welcome, albeit  a bit overdue.

Recent press release from Norway, a clearly written piece summarises the issue as follows:  Norway is paying off Somalia's arrears to the International Development Association (the soft lending arm of the World Bank). And that will enable IDA to lend more to Somalia, part of which will repay Norway. So far so good. See https://www.regjeringen.no/en/aktuelt/somalia_loan/id2673476/

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What is not clear and must be corrected soon is ensuring the Somali people understand what this means. This debt is Somalia’s debt to the WB (bit complex than that… but keeping it simple for clarity’s sake). I tried on many other occasions to let us (Somalis) understand this… governments (regardless of how they came about) come and go, but the debt was and will be there, for us Somali people to pay it now, or service it forever, or figure out a way to manage it. This is the message I tried to share with my Somali people via :

http://somaliaaway.com/   ,  https://www.linkedin.com/posts/mi2000_debt4dev-wbgmeetings-activity-6588188321611112448-YTQn , https://www.linkedin.com/posts/mi2000_new-international-debt-statistics-2020-summarizes-activity-6585291655329484800-xvvT

 Nearly all of Somalia's external debt is to the public sector - see:

http://datatopics.worldbank.org/debt/ids/creditorcomposition/SOM - and it is so high that further lending is not in prospect - see http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/678011570772436350/Somalia-Joint-World-Bank-IMF-Debt-Sustainability-Analysis-August-2019.

What my current Somali government is trying to do, this new plan that my PM negotiated with Norway (not sure why the finance minister was not there), is a way of cutting through that stalemate. However, this will only make sense, though, if the new borrowings by Somalia are going to increase our economic capability, and enable it to grow. From the bits and pieces we are getting in the PM’s press releases, and even from the Norway government :

(https://www.regjeringen.no/en/aktuelt/somalia_loan/id2673476/) or WB papers, I wasn't able to learn what the new funds will be used for. But I'd be confident and trust Norway’s track record on this issue over the years… even dating back and though not directly linked here to the former PM Tony Blair (when he was interested in this issue) days, that they are intended to develop economic capability, in the short term and even long term.

So where to from here? The Somali government, Norway and the WB must inform us, the Somali people the good work they are doing on this issue… to avoid the future Somali generations reading notes from Russia in 1917 or China in 1949, Cuba in 1960, Zaire in 1979, Ghana in 1979, etc. etc

My other comments on Somalia (in Somali language).. for whom the bell tolls.. maybe we can do with a bit of Hemingway there, I guess. Or Metallica (if you so inclined). Visit https://lnkd.in/fG5AABs  and https://lnkd.in/fNaXR8a

Mohamed Ibrahim, Head of National ICT and Digital Economy, is Somalia's former Minister of Posts and Telecommunication. He can be reached at [email protected]

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