Somalia’s capital city, Mogadishu, has been a ghost town for almost a quarter of a century, torn apart by a civil war that now, thankfully, seems to be coming to an end.
Insecurity is rife in most parts of the city. Al-Shabaab controls most of the city by night and the Federal Government during the day.
I visited Mogadishu in 2012 and was shocked to see the destruction. Many buildings are in bad shape. You need a taxi to get to the nearby Lido beach from the city centre as walking is likely get you molested in plain daylight.
In the past two months, the security situation in Mogadishu has deteriorated and many people have been attacked and some killed. Al-Shabaab has struck at key strategic locations in Mogadishu more than 10 times in the past four months.
Elections are planned for September, 2016, to complete the system of federalism and the constitution. There will also be a referendum on the constitution and also to decide the choice of capital city.
It appears increasingly doubtful that the Somali Federal Government will manage to put in place all the mechanisms required for the elections and the referendum to take place.
Most of the independent commissions that are to carry out these duties have yet to be named and there are no parties or a viable Opposition to co-select members of the commissions.
Another obstacle to the process is the recent sacking of the entire Judiciary. The Somali Federal Parliament has also not passed the many laws that are necessary for the elections and referendum to be conducted smoothly.
The process is dragging, yet Somalia needs a strategic master plan for building a new capital city. Mogadishu has been the centre of chaos for too long. A modern city should be built, for example west of Mogadishu, an area that offers better security features. The construction alone would create many jobs.
Many countries have changed their capital cities due to security and infrastructural and congestion challenges. Nigeria moved it capital from Lagos to Abuja, Australia moved from Sydney to Canberra, Dodoma replaced Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, and Egypt is considering an alternative city to the east of Cairo.
The city, to cost $45 billion, is to take five to seven years to construct, with the aim of easing congestion in Cairo over the next 40 years. One of the aims of the plan to build a new capital was to help revive the Egyptian economy.
It seems to be working because Egypt has received pledges worth $12 billion in the form of aid and investment from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Somalia could copy this model. Like Egypt, it is a member of the Arab League and can enjoy the same privileges in terms of investment and aid to tackle insecurity and create employment.
This is especially urgent now because Amisom is expected to exit Somalia before September 2016, yet there is no united and representative national Somali military force to take its place. This situation has been brought about due to lack of planning and funding.
It is urgent to have these structures in place, otherwise we risk going back to the old days of anarchy, with Al-Shabaab stepping in to fill the vacuum left by Amisom.
This article first appeared on Daily Nation