Somalia’s first think tank was launched in the capital Mogadishu today. The Heritage Institute for Policy Studies (HIPS) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan research center which aims to inform and influence public policy and practice through field-based research, informed analysis and innovative solutions in the form of reports, policy briefs and public debates.
“The absence of meaning policy discourse and a credible Somali voice that can articulate a national narrative have contributed to the plight of the Somali people during two decades of civil war,” said Abdi Aynte, a former journalist with Al Jazeera English and the director of HIPS.
Aynte added: “HIPS intends to fill that gap by enhancing the public’s understanding of complex policy matters through research and analysis, and by providing options to policymakers.
In a statement, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud welcomed the new initiative. “Somalia needs fresh thinking, and we believe this institute will contribute to the betterment of this country,” he said.
As part of its mission, the Heritage Institute will also promote a culture of learning and research in Somalia. It aims to do so by launching a series of public libraries across the country, organizing summer book fairs and offering research courses and fellowships to postgraduate students and aspiring researchers.
“As a research institute, we felt that it was incumbent upon us to lead the way for a societal transformation anchored in a culture of research,” said deputy director Abdirashid Hashi, a former International Crisis Group analyst and a onetime cabinet minister.
Hashi said HIPS will partner with Somali higher learning institutions and civil society groups to achieve its objectives. It’s with such a collaborative spirit that independent institutions can contribute to the resurrection of the Somali state, he said.
Hon. Asha Hagi Elmi, an MP and the wife of the Somali Prime Minsiter said: “This institute was founded by credible and capable Somalis, in Somalia for the betterment of Somalia.”
Asha Hagi Elmi
The launching event was attended by representatives from local universities, civil society institutions, government officials, business leaders and diplomats.