Last week, the Minister of Energy & Minerals of Somaliland, His Excellency Jama Mahmoud Egal, has issued a directive banning the import of Metal Detecting Devices used for gold prospecting. On the same day, there were International press reports indicating that Sudan has exported some 78 tons of gold during the first 9 months of 2018. Earlier, the Government of Somaliland has barred the people of Sanaag Region from prospecting for gold in the mountains of that beautiful region.
The respected Somaliland Minister should know that in Sudan the government gave its ordinary people the green-light and the proper licensing to engage in wide scale mining for Gold. Consequently, the people have organized themselves into cooperatives, partnerships and companies, and with the assistance and guidance of the government, they have embarked of an African Gold Rush. A Sudanese friend of mine moved back home, joined this gold rush, and has since made fortunes. The revenue that Sudan has generated from 78 tons of gold they have exported in 9 months could be worth of US$ 2.7 Billion if one ton equals 1,000 kilo and a kilo is equivalent to 35.2 ounces, when the market price of one ounce is nowadays valued to be at about US$1,000
78 Tons = 78,000 Kilos
78,000 Kilos x35.2 = 2,754,600 Ounces
2,745,600 Ounces x1000 = 2,745,600,000 Dollars or US$2.745 Billion
This is almost 10 times the annual Budget of Somaliland Government.
Against this background, we are aware that the vast majority of our people are below the poverty line and the recurring drought has deepened their suffering. Thousands of rural people have lost their livestock, become destitute and desperately moved to the towns, where they have setup shanty houses and live in miserable conditions. If these helpless people are allowed, or rather encouraged, to extract gold and gems from their Land, thousands of families will be able to improve their standard of living and contribute to the country’s economic growth
In this context, my message to His Excellency Minister J M Egal is as follows:
“Your Excellency, you are fully aware of the plight of the vast majority of our young men and women. You need to reset your priorities. The outdated regulations and the obsolete bureaucracy at your ministry should be in line with the dire needs of our citizens, given the tough times they face. You should not leave any stone unturned in order to enable these men and women extract the treasures of their soil. Any other considerations or agendas should be treated as secondary and shelved until such time when the people can make a living otherwise. The metal detectors that you have banned are publicly available in the market in Dubai for prices ranging from US$3,000 to US$10,000.
This counterproductive policy is so remote from the realities on the ground. It demoralizes the youth and encourages them to risk their lives in the inhumane endeavor on the high seas to Europe and elsewhere. Let the youth get these Gold prospecting equipment and help themselves engage in “Somaliland Gold Rush”. The role of your Ministry should be that of a facilitator rather than being that of an obstructor.”
By Hassan Abdi Yusuf
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia