Somaliland: The Renaissance of Berbera (Ancient Malao) after Centuries of Negligence

Berbera Port has become the spotlight of the Region’s geopolitical agenda this week. The issue was further sensationalized by the dispute between Djibouti and DP World based in United Arab Emirates over Doraleh Multi-Purpose Container Port.

Somaliland, Ethiopia and DP World have set up a Consortium that will establish one of the most efficient and highly-equipped international seaports of the Horn of Africa at Berbera in Somaliland. This development has enhanced and upheld the position of Republic Somaliland in the international arena. In addition to the main agreement, Somaliland and DP World have also signed another side agreement which involves the formation of Free-zone adjacent to the port.

Author: Hassan Abdi Yussuf, Riyadh, Saudi Arabai

On top of that, Ethiopia has also pledged to construct the highway linking Berbera with the town of Wajaale which is located on the borderline between Somaliland with Ethiopia. If all goes as planned, the project will create thousands of jobs for the youth and significantly energize the economic Activities of the Region for years to come. It is also evident that by signing these international agreements, Somaliland has demonstrated to capacity to enter into international Treaties – a major step towards international recognition.

Proposed highway from Berbera to Wajaale

It is worth mentioning here that over the centuries Berbera and Zaila were the main seaports of the entire Horn of Africa before Djibouti was even established. The old name of Berbera is Acient MALAO as described in The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea written by a Greek merchant who traveled on the red sea in 40 AD (1879 years ago). However, it is also equally true that, over the recent years, Djibouti has emerged as the unchallenged leader of maritime economic activity in the region. Berbera could be able to grasp some of the business but it will be decades before it emerges as a serious challenger. In short, the market size is huge and both ports will thrive for decades to come – there is nothing to fight over. It is indeed a win-win situation for all – including Djibouti

DP World and Somaliland signing final agreement relating to the investment in Berbera Port in 2016

However, one day after these agreements have been signed, the Prime Minister of neighboring Somalia who happened to be on private visit to the U. A. E. has suddenly appeared on TV screens claiming that his Government has cancelled the agreement entered into by Somaliland, DP World and Ethiopia. Over the weekend, the stance of this gentleman and his government has turned into laughing-stock and the subject of jokes in the Media and social cycle

  • First, the PM is aware that the original Berbera agreement was signed in March last year and port is already under the management of DP World
  • Secondly, the Prime Minister of Somalia was already fully aware of the scheduled Agreement Signing ceremony but he flew to UAE with last ditch attempt to influence the UAE authorities to postpone the signing of the deal. He lied to his people and the entire world on these two points
  • Thirdly, Somaliland is sovereign nation that has gained its independence from Great Britain way back in 1960, joined a union with Somalia, but has reclaimed their independence in 1991 following long and bloody war

    Berbera Port in Somaliland

The people of Somaliland have since succeeded in slowly building a working democracy with all the institutions of modern sovereign nation and it is dealing with international community in that capacity. But the guys in the South continue to refused to see the realities on ground. They opted to have their eyes closed, their brain shutdown, their hands crossed and their tongues utter meaningless words.

It is indeed a manifestation of the old Arabic proverb which says: “The caravan moves as the dogs Park”