A New Era of State-Building and Growth: Charting Somalia’s Future

By: Mohamed Abdirizak


Twenty-three years ago, my career in international development began with the United Nations Development Programme, marking the start of my commitment to Somalia’s development at a time when the nation was deeply fragmented. More than two decades later, the long and challenging road to recovery continues. However, there is also tangible progress: many in the diaspora are returning, eager to contribute to their homeland’s resurgence in both the public and private sectors; the state-building process has advanced, leading to successive internationally recognised governments; the arms embargo has been lifted, and debt relief has brightened economic prospects and enhanced Somalia’s standing on regional and global stages, including joining the East African Community (EAC) and contending for a United Nations Security Council seat for 2025-2026.

However, significant challenges remain, including the threat of Al-Shabaab, nascent government institutions, limited accountability, and an ongoing state-building process. Today, as the new CEO of Asal, I weigh the balance of gains made against existing threats. As an optimist, I see the potential of exceptional probability of initiating a new era of transformative change. This potential is not just a distant dream but a tangible reality we can achieve with the right strategy and collective effort. It is essential, therefore, to shift our mindset and approach from dependency on aid to self-sustenance.

Asal's Three-Pillar Strategy

At Asal, we have crafted a unique and innovative strategy aimed at reducing aid dependency. This strategy isn’t just a plan; it’s a strategic blueprint for a self-sustaining Somalia, built on three pillars: economic viability, responsive and accountable governance, and the completion of the state-building process. Each pillar is strategically designed to address a specific aspect of Somalia's development, ensuring a comprehensive and effective approach.

  • Sustainable Development: The priority of international development aid should be economically viable programs. The bulk of aid funds should act as seed money and lay the groundwork for sustained growth and self-reliance by capitalizing on the country’s comparative advantage in agriculture, fisheries, and livestock. Aid money should also focus on improving market development and supply chain logistics and support initiatives connecting local producers with global markets. This, along with promoting economic diversification through investments in small-scale manufacturing and establishing technology and innovation hubs, stimulates economic growth and creates job opportunities.
  • Responsive Governance: Responsive governance ensures that economic growth is managed transparently and accountably, enhancing trust between citizens and the government. Developing platforms that promote civic engagement and strengthen democratic institutions and systems ensures that governance reforms are sustainable and that governance becomes more participatory and inclusive.
  • Completing State-Building: Completing the state-building process, including an independent judiciary, federalism arrangements, the design and architecture of government for a new Somalia, and a fully consultative constitutional review and finalisation process, will provide the necessary legal and structural stability for these changes to take root and flourish. This involves supporting the review and implementation of the Somali constitution, facilitating comprehensive reconciliation processes, and defining federal structures. These efforts ensure that all regions and communities are integrated and that governance is equitable and representative.

This approach is distinct from prior efforts, which often tackled these areas in isolation, leading to uncoordinated initiatives and diluted impacts. By focusing on economic viability, we directly address the root causes of economic instability and create a foundation for sustained growth and self-reliance. The responsive governance pillar ensures that this growth is managed in a transparent and accountable manner, promoting trust between the citizens and the government. Completing the state-building process is crucial for providing the legal and structural stability needed for these changes to take root and flourish. The three-pillar strategy brings a more comprehensive approach to Somalia’s development by integrating economic development, governance reform, and state-building into a cohesive framework.

This holistic approach ensures that each pillar reinforces the others, creating a robust framework for development that can withstand the complexities of Somalia's social and political landscape. Donor countries are already pooling their resources, partly to reduce risk but, more importantly, to coordinate efforts. A great example of such initiatives is the Somalia Stability Fund, which aims to further enhance cooperation and strategic alignment among international stakeholders, promoting stability and reducing the overlap of aid efforts. This unified approach allows us to leverage different perspectives and angles to achieve sustainable and transformative change more effectively. By rallying around a comprehensive strategy, we can avoid fragmentation and ensure our efforts are synergistic rather than duplicative.  Our strategy isn’t just about implementing initiatives; it’s about advancing a culture of collaboration, innovation, and a shared purpose for real, long-lasting change.


The efficacy of this strategy is not solely dependent on its formulation; it relies on the crucial element of widespread buy-in from stakeholders, governments, and international partners. Collaboration,consensus, and understanding are vital components that ensure a community oflike-minded thinkers coming together to tackle the big issues. Moreover, addressing the challenge of duplication is paramount. By rallying around a comprehensive strategy, we can avoid fragmentation and ensure that our efforts are synergistic rather than duplicative. This unified approach allows us to leverage different perspectives and angles to achieve sustainable and transformative change more effectively. Our strategy includes implementing initiatives, but more importantly it focuses on advancing a culture of collaboration, innovation, and a shared purpose for real,long-lasting change.


Our strategy for Somalia is more than a plan; it is a powerful blueprint for transforming the nation through economic independence, responsive governance, and comprehensive state-building. These pillars are designed to establish a stable and prosperous Somalia, inviting global partners to join us in this transformative journey. We are committed to building a sustainable and thriving future for all Somalis, aiming for self-reliance and robust national growth.

About the Author:

Mohamed Abdirizak is the CEO of Asal and a member of the UN CERF Advisory Group. He formerly served as Somalia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Executive Director of the Platform for Political Dialogue and Accommodation, and Country Director for the National Democratic Institute.