Somalia‘s Minister of Finance, Dr. Abdirahman Beileh and the African Development Bank‘s Vice President for Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery, Khaled Sherif on Monday signed a $122.55 million grant agreement to advance Somalia’s national development agenda, consolidate peace and ensure inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction.
The signing follows the approval on February 26 by the Bank’s Board, of Somalia’s Arrears Clearance framework and a Policy Based Operation, and is the second stage of a process that would see the United Kingdom Government and European Union provide the necessary financial support to clear Somalia’s arrears to the Bank Group, paving the way for the Bank to begin a new relationship of support to the East African nation.
Reflecting on the journey that made the agreement possible, Somali Finance Minister Dr. Abdirahman Beileh, said reaching the signing stage had taken a lot of work, beginning with the initial work on debt reconciliation, which started in 2014.
“This operation heralds the beginning of a new relationship between the Government of Somalia, the people of Somalia and the Bank Group. We wish to build on the existing excellent relationship. I also thank the Bank Group leadership and the Bank’s Somalia country team who have worked tirelessly to make this historic day possible. In addition, we are truly grateful for the UK’s championship in Somalia’s arrears clearance process, its financial support and that of the EU,” Beileh said.
Calling on the international community and the Somali government to build on this momentum and to continue the fruitful collaboration, Sherif urged all parties to turn their focus to supporting the authorities to continue implementing reforms, and to cement the gains made. He further mentioned that the Bank Group will soon be engaging the Somalis to agree on the country’s priorities before the development of a comprehensive country strategy, that will focus on unlocking the nation’s potential to benefit from greater regional integration in the Horn of Africa.
Somalia has made significant progress toward realizing its political security and economic development agenda, although it faces real challenges. The agreement will see the Bank assist in institutional capacity building and skills development for improved governance in the nation.
The Bank’s Acting Director General for East Africa, Nnenna Nwabufo, congratulated Somali authorities for their efforts to build a better Somalia. She acknowledged that challenges lay ahead, but was confident that with greater determination, a vision driven by a deep desire to change the Somali narrative and the current reform momentum, Somalia would stay on course. She noted, “At the start of the reforms it seemed impossible as many underestimated the resolve of the Somali leadership and its people. We congratulate them today for such an outstanding feat.”
Amba Mpoke-Bigg, Communication and External Relations Department, African Development Bank