Somaliland awarded with mega projects for insisting in its decision to secede
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The northern breakaway region of Somaliland has successfully lobbied for four major projects which will be financed by European nations just a few days after the famous Djibouti meeting with the Federal Government of Somalia, an indication of a possible milestone towards securing international recognition.
This comes as Somaliland is still insisting in its decision to secede from Somalia after recent Djibouti talks.
For three decades, Somaliland has been running a parallel government with robust institutions such as parliament, executive, and judiciary, but is yet to be recognized worldwide due to several underlying issues, among them opposition from Somalia.
In a statement on Sunday, Netherlands, Denmark and the United Kingdom confirmed approval of Phase II of the Somaliland Development Fund [SDF2] program, whose main aim is to improve critical infrastructure and economic growth.
Under Somaliland's National Development Plan, it is anticipated that the projects would improve the lives of hundreds of people in the secessionist state, which is pushing for international recognition, a move which would trigger massive economic growth given that it would access more support from international lenders.
The agreement supports projects on roads, agricultural facilities, water systems, and fisheries, which are some of the key factors contributing to the region's Gross Domestic Product [GDP]. The three nations also underscored the importance of having a stable and peaceful Somaliland.
Rebuilding Burao-Sheikh-Berbera road within Togdheer and Sahil regions is one of the projects that was approved and would see 82 kilometers of full asphalt concrete overlay, resurfacing of bridges and renewal of drainage done. This, the partners said, would improve connectivity between Somaliland's port and the largest city, Berbera.
Once done, the project would tremendously reduce the time and costs used on the road and is set to benefit over 50,000 civilians who use the road for trade. Livestock, fisheries, and agriculture from the region would be significantly boosted after the completion of the project.
The sustainable land management in Awdal and Maroodijeh regions has also been factored in. The project, the funders said, will improve the agricultural production of small farmers through soil and water conservation, research, extension, and farmer training.
Some of the agricultural areas that will be targeted include Durdur Ad Upper Catchment in Awdal and Maroodijeh Upper Catchment in Maroodijeh. The partners will also support the Hargeisa Water Agency which is responsible for the distribution of water in the capital.
The project, they said, would allow the water agency to extract an additional 4,000 m³ of water each day from Laasdhure aquifer. This would increase the supply of water within Hargeisa and its environs, which have witnessed a significant surge of the population in recent months.
The construction of Maydh fishing jetty in the Sanaag region has also been factored in the agreement and is poised to improve connectivity by sea between Berbera and Sanaag, with parts of Togdheer also benefiting. This support will boost food security, employment, and incomes.
Ben Fender, the British envoy to Somalia, said the UK is committed to supporting Somaliland to lay foundations for sustainable economic growth. The interconnectivity, he added, would unlock the potential of the region besides creating jobs for thousands of jobless youths.
"These projects will improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people by creating jobs and unlocking the region’s economic potential. At a time of huge challenges for Somaliland, including tackling COVID-19, this demonstrates the UK’s commitment to the people of Somaliland," he noted.
The Danish Ambassador to Somalia, Mette Knudsen, said the investments are timely given that the world is currently grappled in COVID-19 pandemic, which has slowed down development projects in the region.
"We are confident that these investments will have catalytic effects to spur Somaliland’s economic development and to help support and sustain Somaliland’s economic recovery from this terrible pandemic," he said in a statement.
Netherlands ambassador to Somalia Frans Makken said the projects would strengthen the social contract between Hargeisa administration and its people. These projects, he added, "will strengthen the positive social and economic growth trajectory of Somaliland".
Currently, the region is engaged in dialogue with Somalia and the inter-ministerial committee is set to release terms for cooperation in the next couple of days. The projects were awarded after decades of secessionist policy, which had been objected by Mogadishu.
To foster a relationship with other states across the world, President Muse Bihi Abdi formalized cooperation with Taiwan last week, although the move was condemned by China. On Friday, he also meets a Kenyan delegation in Hargeisa, further showing his commitment to open up the region for investments to the rest of the world.