Somalia faces challenges that are among the most complex of any country in the world. More than 30 years after the state collapsed, efforts aimed at rebuilding a functioning government system, improving security, and expanding the economy continue, as the country faces a serious ongoing Al-Shabab insurgency and the growing impacts of climate change [1].

The effects of climate change have become increasingly evident in Somalia, including more frequent droughts, floods, and pest infestations [2]. Combined with other development challenges, such as poverty, inequality, and capacity constraints due to more than two decades of conflict, these crises continue to undermine the country’s political and economic gains [3]. As such, Somalia remains one of the least developed countries in the world [4].


Key policies and governance approach

Sustainable development, peace building and adaptation to climate change remain the highest priorities of Somalia [5].

Somalia’s Ninth National Development Plan 2020 - 2024 (NDP-9), which acts as the country’s Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (IPRSP), is strongly aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals. In fact, 80 out of the 103 indicators from the NDP-9 are directly aligned with the SDGs. NDP-9 aims to reduce poverty and inequality through four pillars: 1) inclusive and accountable politics, which sets out to achieve national stability and peace through inclusive political processes and effective decentralization; 2) security and rule of law, which sets out to establish unified, capable, accountable and rights based federal security institutions that provide basic safety and security for citizens, secure and improve access to affordable justice, and increase public confidence in the judiciary; 3) economic growth, which was created to help sustain economic growth and provide greater employment opportunities by transforming traditional industries, such as livestock and crop production, while inducing growth in the private sector; and 4) social development, which aims to improve education and training, increase access to healthcare, strengthen social protection, improve disaster risk management, and ameliorate public service delivery [6]. The NDP-9 also recognizes the threats that climate change poses to the country’s development objectives and mainstreams climate change into the strategic interventions planned for all vulnerable sectors of the economy to enhance resilience [7].

Successes and remaining challenges

Somalia’s Voluntary National Review process revealed that Somalia has made significant strides toward achieving the SDG targets. For instance, in achieving Economic Growth, despite severe drought, the country’s GDP growth has been on a positive trajectory. Additionally, Somalia’s ICT sector has flourished under a self-regulated private-sector system. The country has also made progress in the proportion of the population using drinking water services and the proportion of people practising open defecation. Finally, Somalia has also reduced maternal mortality and increased literacy, particularly for women [6].

However, a lack of progress was also recorded in a number of SDGs, especially in Affordable and Clean Energy, which saw a decrease in the proportion of the population with access to electricity from 52% in 2017 to 49% in 2019, due to an inadequate infrastructure and regulatory framework [6]. Unfortunately, Somalia is one of the least electrified countries in the world, a challenge that inhibits the country’s economic potential and sustainable growth. Yet, the country has great opportunity to expand its access to energy, particularly through renewable energy, to support a range of development, security, economic, and climate goals. While renewable energy is feasible, offers numerous benefits to communities, and is drawing increasing interest from electricity service providers, financial challenges are hindering its growth in Somalia and the ability of the Federal Government and Federal Member States to help in this regard is limited [1].

Despite the Government’s continued efforts towards achieving the SDGs, the country still relies heavily on support from International Partners to implement the NDP-9. Thus, it will take time, effort, and adequate resource allocation from both domestic and international sources to fully recover and realise the SDG targets by 2030 [6].

Initiatives and Development Plans

The proposed Team Europe Initiative (TEI) ‘Green Deal: Climate Action through Clean Energy Initiatives and climate-resilient economy’ will support climate change mitigation and adaptation in Somalia. The proposed TEI would have two main components i) increase the access to clean energy across Somalia and ii) strengthen Somalia's climate adaptation and resilience systems. Increased access to sustainable and renewable energy throughout Somalia will have broad based benefits across the society. It will facilitate the provision of basic services in education, health care, water/sanitation, security services as well as increase agricultural and manufacturing productivity. The proposed TEI will boost the development and implementation of the 2018 National Energy Policy of the Federal Republic of Somalia (Draft), which highlights the vision of “Energy for All” and sends a message to investors, service providers and citizens that the country is ready to advance in the electricity sector [4].

The country has recently initiated its National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process through the implementation of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) financed NAP Readiness Project, with which it hopes to strengthen capacities and coordination for climate change adaptation planning and implementation in Somalia. The expected outcomes of the project are (i) Enhanced national institutional coordination and capacity for adaptation planning; (ii) Strengthened capacity for climate change adaptation planning at the state level; and (iii) Strengthened financial planning for climate change adaptation. The project is expected to contribute towards the implementation of the adaptation targets in the country’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and will be aligned with the National Development Plan-9 [7].

  • To reduce poverty, economic growth must be sustained and accelerated through targeted interventions, focused on increasing knowledge and skills to tackle high unemployment rates, addressing unequal and lack of access to education, increasing the number of health facilities and healthcare providers, and increasing the population’s access to basic services such as public sanitation and potable water [6].
  • Green growth approaches should be advanced to maximize synergies between environmental, social and economic development outcomes while managing the costs, trade-offs and uncertainties of the transition. Approaches involving hydropower development, rural cooking technologies, livestock value chains and forestry development offer prospects of immediate economic growth and large carbon abatement potential [8].
  • Somalia will require support to enhance the policy and regulatory environment needed to attract international support and private-sector investment for its climate resilient development agenda [7].
  • There is need to enhance the country’s capacity to access international climate financing, and to enhance its access to both bilateral sources of support and multilateral climate funds [7].
  • Launch a national public awareness campaign aimed at educating citizens about the severity of climate change and ways they can contribute to reducing the impact of climate change [1].
  • Energy experts say with the longest coastline in mainland Africa and an average of 10 hours of sunshine per day, Somalia has great potential for onshore wind and solar power [9].
  • Somalia should strengthen the technical capacity of the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources (MEWR) so that it can effectively regulate and provide oversight on the energy sector, especially to electricity service providers (ESPs) [1].
  • The Federal Government of Somalia’s (FGS) energy policies should be harmonized with those of Federal Member States with a view toward creating a stronger collaborative framework between the two and enabling the standardization of both the quality and prices of energy in Somalia [1].
  • Adequate resources need to be allocated to help the energy sector overcome prohibitive financing challenges and leapfrog toward renewable energy. Incentives could include tax forgiveness to spur on direct foreign investment and import of renewable-energy material into Somalia [1].
  • Promote public-private partnerships and provide legal support to foreign investors to help them navigate federal and state regulations, and to mobilize additional resources for the energy sector [1].
  • The FGS should set annual renewable-energy targets as well as annual price ranges for ESPs and empower federal agencies to hold ESPs accountable to those targets. In doing so, the FGS would set clear benchmarks for ESPs and protect consumers from price hikes [1].
  • Putting safety at the center of policymaking, the FGS should set clear standards that compel ESPs to share electric distribution networks and wiring of consumer houses to reduce the number of fires related to poor wiring. Similarly, the FGS should set standards for fuel imported into the country [1].
  • Establish technical and vocational education training (TVET) centers dedicated to the energy sector with the objective of creating a local skilled labor force that can support the sector. These centers should prioritize renewable energy [1].