Somaliland: We built it from the ground up and we’ll do it again


By Timacade, Yousef Ahmed

“It was just like this (pointing to the burned and destroyed buildings) when we started this business 25 years ago and today we will re-establish and make our wealth again”. One of the women market vendors who lost all her property says,

On Friday night, a massive fire ripped through the central market of Hargeisa, Somaliland’s capital city, injuring about 20 people and destroying thousands of small businesses. A massive fire destroyed the main market, causing losses ranging from $1.5 billion to $2 billion, according to a preliminary report released by a national taskforce investigating the fire.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, but some Hargeisa traders believe it was caused by a faulty electrical connection. This was Hargeisa’s economic center, and despite the best efforts of the firefighters to keep the fire under control, the market was destroyed.

According to the SIHA Network report 2017, this market accounts for 62 percent of Hargeisa local government revenue, with women accounting for the majority of this market. The urban poor women are very resilient because they have been the breadwinners of family households and the backbone of society survival during difficult times. One of the women market vendors who lost all her property says, ‘it was just like this (pointing to the burned and destroyed buildings) when we started this business 25 years ago and today we will re-establish and make our wealth again.

Women in this affected market started a new businesses on the main bridge selling vegetables and cereals right away to ensure that there is still household income and food potential through these other sources, thereby reducing households’ vulnerability in the face of these shocks.

Women street vendors who contribute significantly to the economy by providing the primary source of income for their households, providing food for their families, and paying school fees for their children have strong ties to the formal economy because the goods they sell are sourced from formal enterprises.

According to economics, the two billion dollars lost were not just money in storage, but also money rounding and working capital, which were the economic and production backbones. It was a daily source of public concentration and taxation, all or a portion of which was returned to the market as part of exchange and subsistence. According to macroeconomics, this is known as circular flow.

The cost of the products will rise, life will become more expensive as demand rises and supply in the market depletes. Inflation can occur when there is an increase in demand for goods and services, as consumers are willing to pay more for the product. Some businesses benefit from inflation if they can charge more for their products as a result of high demand. This a situation in which an economic problem in this main market can spread like a virus to other businesses and industries.

The interconnected pillars that shape these issues are known as the economic domino effect, which means that if one of them fails, all of the other pillars of the economy around it can fall apart, potentially resulting in a large-scale economic collapse. Some economists warn against valuing such things, referring to them as the economic domino fallacy or the Gambler’s fallacy.

As a result, in Somaliland, particularly in Hargeisa, one of the dollar and Somaliland currencies may depreciate, affecting the other, depending on whether the losses are high in cash or in kind. It is also possible that demand for non-cash assets will rise, and that the need for unintentional supplies and pre-existing demand, combined with the holy month of Ramadan, will cause imbalances related to scarcity of available resources and rising demand, resulting in an increase in some or all livelihoods.

Aside from the business community, this market employed a large number of people. While unemployment was already high, the disaster jeopardized the job security of a large number of workers. This will have an impact on the country’s economy as these people will no longer be able to buy or pay for their children’s school fees.

Residents of Hargeisa had already endured property and life losses as a result of the Somali civil war; as a result, they are more resilient to such challenges and more business-savvy. It’s worth remembering that Hargeisa was completely destroyed thirty years ago, yet it was restored and made even more lovely than before. Now that Hargeisa’s market has been burned down and destroyed, I am confident that it will be rebuilt and restored to its former glory. The residents of Hargeisa have a new motto: “We built it from the ground up, we’ll rebuild it together again”.

Timacade, Yousef Ahmed
Professionally, he is a lawyer with an LLB, an LLM in International Law, and a Master’s degree in Executive Management.


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