Berbera also faces its own challenges. Though it projects to boost its capacity to 500,000 TEU per annum, “there is no dedicated entity involved in policy-making for the ports,” according to the World Bank.

Despite announcing the creation of a Somaliland Port and Free Zone Authority, there are “decisions on its composition, as well as the relationship between the DP World Berbera board and the new port authority, are yet to be made,” according to academics Warsame M. Ahmed and Finn Stepputat.

READ MORE Somaliland’s new Cold War diplomacy

Revenue from Berbera could be a big boost to the economy. Somaliland’s current main sources of revenue are its agriculture and livestock exports ($211.7m in 2019)  as well as remittances from its diaspora, estimated at $1.6bn by the UN.

Diplomatic advances

Other global powers are also taking an interest in Somaliland in a context of shifting regional dynamics. The UK, with Brexit approaching, is one of them. Somaliland wants to join the Commonwealth, though the UK does not officially recognise Somaliland as a state.

READ MORE The Red Sea: A magnet for outside powers vying for its control

Taiwan, which is itself looking for international recognition, has been enthusiastic to interact with Somaliland.

But Berbera also put an additional strain on relations with Somalia. In 2018, the Somali government tried to get the UN’s help to prevent a UAE military presence in Berbera and also rejected the port deal. Since then, relations have improved, and Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh hosted talks between the two countries this year.

After Somalia’s presidential elections, which are planned for 8 February, talks between the Hargeisa and Mogadishu governments could continue on.

Berbera also faces its own challenges. Though it projects to boost its capacity to 500,000 TEU per annum, “there is no dedicated entity involved in policy making for the ports,” according to the World Bank.

Despite announcing the creation of a Somaliland Port and Free Zone Authority, there are “decisions on its composition, as well as the relationship between the DP World Berbera board and the new port authority, are yet to be made,” according to academics Warsame M. Ahmed and Finn Stepputat.

READ MORE Somaliland’s new Cold War diplomacy

Revenue from Berbera could be a big boost to the economy. Somaliland’s current main sources of revenue are its agriculture and livestock exports ($211.7m in 2019)  as well as remittances from its diaspora, estimated at $1.6bn by the UN.

Diplomatic advances

Other global powers are also taking an interest in Somaliland in a context of shifting regional dynamics. The UK, with Brexit approaching, is one of them. Somaliland wants to join the Commonwealth, though the UK does not officially recognise Somaliland as a state.

READ MORE The Red Sea: A magnet for outside powers vying for its control

Taiwan, which is itself looking for international recognition, has been enthusiastic to interact with Somaliland.

But Berbera also put an additional strain on relations with Somalia. In 2018, the Somali government tried to get the UN’s help to prevent a UAE military presence in Berbera and also rejected the port deal. Since then, relations have improved, and Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh hosted talks between the two countries this year.

After Somalia’s presidential elections, which are planned for 8 February, talks between the Hargeisa and Mogadishu governments could continue on.

By Loza Seleshie

The African Report

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