Aftermath of a suicide bombing in Somalia

Aftermath of a suicide bombing in Somalia

The Obama administration’s interest in stabilizing the Horn of Africa region continues to heighten in the wake of Somalia-based jihadist group al-Shabaab’s recent cross-border massacre of Christians at Kenya’s Garissa University College.

So, the Obama plan is to encouragement investment in Somalia’s renewable energy sector.

The “Economic Growth Activity” project being pursued by the Obama administration will hire contractors to advise the Somalian government in building an “economic foundation” in green infrastructure as well as in the agriculture and fisheries sectors, according to a planning document WND discovered through routine database research.

The project’s goals include the expansion of opportunities for Somalian small- and medium-sized businesses by bringing about systemic, regulatory changes in the nation, the notice says.

Priority will be given to ventures that are “likely to attract women and youth who have been marginalized from pursuing economic opportunities.”

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The project aligns with State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf’s assertion that creating jobs would help address the root causes of terrorism.

The initial cost of the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, program is “not expected to exceed $74 million” over five years.

The document, known as a “presolicitation” notice, likewise acknowledges the administration’s goal of improving “production, employment, and incomes” in Somalia.

Al-Shabaab has waged terror attacks against the national Somali government and its citizens as well as those of neighboring nations, most notably Kenya. The terror organization has vowed vengeance in retaliation for Kenya’s military incursions against the Islamist group within Somalia.

Somalia shares a 684-kilometer border with Kenya, according to the CIA World Factbook.

The Garissa attack, with 147 killed, was deadlier than al-Shabaab’s 2013 attack on the Westgate Mall, when the terrorists murdered 67.

Obama considers Kenya a key U.S. ally, reflecting a policy that extends back several administrations. The level of U.S. assistance in promoting financial and governmental stability in the Horn of Africa remains massive, though dollar-wise has dipped in recent years.

While Obama’s annual aid request is down from peaks during his first administration, Overseas Contingency Operations, or OCO, funding has filled some gaps.

The White House in FY 2015, for example, seeks $200 million in aid to Somalia, $115 million of which are OCO funds. Requested funding under Obama peaked at $320 million in FY 2013, with $140 million of that amount slated to come from OCO cash.

Obama’s FY 2015 request for Kenya is $553 million, down from $798 million in FY 2011. The administration has not sought OCO funds for Kenya.

Despite this drop in the overall cost of aid for Kenya, the sheer volume of programs that USAID operates there had become so unmanageable that USAID hired additional contractors to oversee other contractors already conducting agency business, as WND extensively has reported since 2013.

Among more recent assistance, WND earlier this year reported on a new round of private-contractor advisers the Obama administration planned to send to Kenya, where they will assist in the simultaneous expansion of health-care services and the ongoing decentralization of the national government.

Other projects American taxpayers are taking on:

  • USAID’s potentially $375 million “Youth Power” initiative handed out its latest round of contracts to evaluate and disseminate knowledge in the “field of positive youth development.” The most recent contracting action in that endeavor established a $72 million total cap for six different contractors. The agency earlier this year awarded a separate $41.2 million contract to another vendor.
  • Subject to the availability of funds, USAID plans to spend up to $70 million over five years to strengthen the ability of Tanzania to more effectively deliver early grade reading, writing, and arithmetic instruction. The program, Tusome Pamoja – which is Kiswahili for “Let’s Read Together” – also aims to increase “community and parental engagement in early primary education.”
  • USAID intends to secure three temporary “pre-position warehouses” in anticipation of responding to humanitarian disasters. The agency, which did not disclose an estimated cost, expects to award three separate contracts for warehouse logistical services in the East Africa/Horn region, southern Africa and Asia.
  • The U.S. Trade & Development Agency, or USTDA, on behalf of Cong Ly Construction – Trade-Tourism Company Ltd. has agreed to spend nearly $1 million to conduct a feasibility study of the Vietnamese company’s plans to expand its wind farm. The agency said the assistance “will support Vietnam and its energy sector in the prioritization of increasing renewable energy production.”
  • USTDA also will pick up the tab to send a contractor to Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama to develop a U.S. transportation-infrastructure industry resource guide about opportunities in those Central America nations. USTDA did not disclose the estimated cost of this definitional mission, as the trip is known.

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