Somaliland’s Quid Pro Quo

Some recent developments between Somaliland and other nations, including China and Denmark, would seem to indicate that Somaliland’s economic potential and stable political and legal environment has not gone unnoticed in the global sphere.  It would therefore be worthwhile to examine these developments in order to better understand what it is that Somaliland can provide to the Horn of Africa and the rest of the world and what impact this may have on its cherished goal of international recognition of its independent status.

China:  Cash and Recognition For Oil

During the Siad Barre regime, Conoco and Philips (now Amoco) had exploration rights to oil and gas exploration in Somalia, but they left when Somalia descended into anarchy in the early 1990’s, and the Chinese have been taking advantage of that to seek the exploration rights themselves for three years now [1].  Conoco, the only major oil company to stay in Mogadishu after the fall of Barre, and whose headquarters was rented to the U.S. government to support the American invasion under George H.W. Bush, has downplayed Somali as “a fringe exploration area” but concedes they had “very good shows” in exploration areas, and one geologist familiar with oil exploration in the Horn of Africa believes that there is “high potential…once the Somalis get their act together” [2].

That appears to be happening now that Somaliland’s president is making a full-court press for international recognition, seeking to capitalize on stability, rule of law, and a well-functioning democracy to provide for Somaliland economic development with the help of international aid and savvy trade deals.  After returning from England, where the Somaliland president recently spoke at Chatham House, the respected English foreign affairs group [3], Mr. Ahmed Silanyo will be taking a trip to China to discuss a trade of Somaliland oil concessions for international recognition and infrastructure development.

Considering that American companies have spent significant funds exploring Somali gas and oil reserves and now risk losing a fair portion of the potential yields to the Chinese, perhaps it would be wise for them to seek their own diplomatic relations with Somaliland.  If the reserves are as promising as the geologists claim, then those Western companies stand to lose a large amount of money simply because other nations are willing to consider progress towards recognition for Somaliland, like China, while others (like the United States) have not shown that willingness.

Denmark’s Minister For International Cooperation a New Friend of Somaliland

Denmark’s Minister for International Cooperation, Mr. Soren Pind, recently visited Somaliland to have a private closed-door meeting with Somaliland’s president.  Whatever his business, and some Somalilanders suspect that it involved providing aid to give Somali refugees a better and closer place to flee than Denmark, he did provide some direct aid to Somaliland and it marked the highest level communication yet between Somaliland and the Danish government [4].

It appears furthermore that Denmark’s minister was so enthusiastic about the progress that Somaliland has made in developing the social infrastructure needed to be a well-functioning state that he continued raving about Somaliland two weeks later when he visited the Maldives.  With such highly placed supporters in governments, it appears possible that a recognition of Somaliland’s progress will lead to more concrete benefits of recognition and foreign direct investment, considering what progress has been made with the very limited investment made so far.


Somaliland has so far been a very neglected de facto state and has drawn little of the foreign media attention devoted to the cause of some of the other would-be states of the world (like Kosovo).  Nonetheless, with its stability and advanced legal system, economic potential and strategic location, that may be changing.  One should expect Somaliland to take full advantage of the benefits they have in order to ensure their safety, respect, and development.  One should also expect Somaliland to have a good memory about which nations were quick to work with it in order to achieve its desired international recognition and development and which nations lagged behind, seeking to preserve the legal fiction of a unified Somalia between its two greatly mismatched components.  The time may soon come when the world greets a new member of the international community in a free Somaliland–and that new nation will not enter the world’s international institutions without powerful friends as well as a memory of those who hindered its progress.  Let us make sure we are counted among its friends, as a free Somaliland is a friend well worth having.






About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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5 Responses to Somaliland’s Quid Pro Quo

  1. Adam says:

    Hi when talking about somaliland there are some facts that needs to bee mentioned such as the the SSC armed group and the war that is currently raging in bohoodle town between the SSC from the darod clan who is pro Puntland and Mr silanyo s own isaak clan who are pro somaliland … this war is threatening the peace with in somaliland and with its neighbor state of Puntland ! for more info about the SSC see here somaliland vs puntland border dispute see here and here somali clan map see here Isaak Clan of Somaliland vs Darod clan briefings see here

    the second issue is the currency…officially somaliland has its own “currency ” BUT in reality it uses the Somalia shilling..and the reason is because Somaliland’s economy is dependent of two things which are the Livestock and remittances coming from the Somali Diaspora who 90% are NOT from the somaliland region ,the Livestock has been and is the backbone of Somaliland’s economy…when somaliland first printed its own currency it demanded that all economic activities with in its territory should be conducted with somaliland shilling only “BUT” when the Somaliland politicians understood that neither the neighboring Countries Nor the rest of Somalis was NOT accepting it …They come up with a “mask” solution which is to use the somaliland shilling in hargeisa the capital where the ngo and media people often visit while letting Borao the economic capital somaliland keep the Somalia shilling…its good idea when it comes to economics,borao has become hub both in the livestock trade and remittances industry with companies like dahabshiil and daallo …and even though that livestock’s from as far away places like baledweyn and goday are traded in BORAO…still you cant use somaliland shilling in the second largest city in somaliland …you cant even buy a cup of tea without using the SOMALIA shilling AND MR SILANYO he keep the “mask” solution,BECAUSE he have to !

    • Adam,

      Thanks for your reference to the economic system of Somaliland. It is my belief that international recognition would be required in order for Somaliland’s currency to achieve recognized and official use in other countries (especially neighbors like Somalia, Djibouti, and Ethiopia). As I have never yet been to Somaliland myself I cannot speak on how business is run in Hargesia or Berbera with authority, but I do appreciate your own first-hand knowledge of the economy in Somaliland, and the facts that you provide to the discussion. What is your own view about the importance of international recognition for Somaliland?

  2. Ahmed says:

    Hi Nathanal,

    Just a question, out of quriosity: how did you become so interested and klowledgable of Somaliland. Since you say you have never been there I presume you are not prom there?


    • Ahmed,

      My name is Nathan, and no, I am not a Somalilander at all (I’m an American, of mostly Western and Northern European ancestry, with a little bit of Cherokee Indian thrown in for good measure). I became interested in Somaliland as a result of my interest in de facto nations and the resolution of frozen conflicts that had lasted for a long time, and finding out about Somaliland’s lengthy and stable existence without international recognition, I was led to try to find out more about it and help support its worthy cause for recognition. I would like to visit someday–to meet the people and conduct research, but I don’t know when I will get the chance to do so.

  3. Pingback: A Modest Proposal For A Plebiscite To Resolve The Status Of The Republic Of Somaliland | Edge Induced Cohesion

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