As President Silanyo’s time in office winds down, it is important to reflect and look back at the important diplomatic achievements he obtained during his term. In this piece, we will look at one of President Silanyo’s most notable achievements – the creation of Somaliland’s representative office to the UAE, under the leadership of its inaugural holder.
Close to two and half years ago, President Silanyo appointed political newcomer, Bashe Awil Haji Omar, a British-trained Chemist and entrepreneur, to serve as Somaliland’s representative to the UAE.
Since his appointment, Omar has silenced many of his critics by reaching heights that no Somaliland representative has ever achieved in Somaliland history.
In this piece, we list Omar’s 10 most notable achievements since he took office, and highlight how these important achievements will leave a lasting legacy for Somaliland its people.
The following achievements of Omar and the UAE representative office, will be divided into the following three categories: development aid, infrastructure projects and other significant political and economic achievements.
A) DEVELOPMENT AID
1. Humboweyne Dam
The Humboweyne Dam project, is considered to be of the most important development initiatives implemented by the Government of the UAE during Omar’s tenure.
The project, funded by the President of the UAE, Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan, had it’s foundation stone laid by H.E President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo in December 2015, and was completed in mid-2017.
The Humboweyne Dam is Somaliland’s largest dam and can store 500,000 cubic meters of water. This project is one of the most important development achievements under Omar’s tenure, as it is expected to provide water, not only to the capital city, Hargeisa, but also surrounding rural areas, and will also aid Somaliland’s agricultural sector.
2. Berbera Slaughterhouse
The Berbera slaughterhouse project is a milestone for Somaliland’s livestock industry, and another important development initiative funded by the UAE government during Omar’s tenure.
The slaughterhouse was funded by the UAE to slaughter and export Somaliland meat exclusively for the United Arab Emirates.
It will have the capacity to slaughter 1000 livestock per day, and will create approximately 500 jobs for Berbera residents. Upon its completion, it will become Somaliland’s only state-of-the-art slaughterhouse with utilization practices, and quality control procedures conducted in accordance with international standards.
3. Drought relief assistance
The Government of the United Arab Emirates has a played a leading role in international efforts to aid the recurring droughts that have hit Somaliland within the past few years. The UAE provided significant assistance during the country’s most recent drought, that devastated the country nationwide for almost a year, from mid-2016 to early 2017.
In April 2017, the UAE sent a team of 18 doctors and medical workers to provide medical services for the people of Somaliland. In May 2017, a ship carrying 1,700 tonnes of food aid donated by the UAE government arrived in Berbera.
The Khalifa Bin Zayed foundation also delivered thousands of food baskets to residents in Sahil region during the drought. In June 2017, Flydubai, an airline carrier owned by the Government of Dubai, donated $100,000 to Somaliland’s drought victims, and victims of the AWD outbreak in May and June.
In addition to this, DP World, also contributed greatly to drought relief efforts, delivering 4.5 million litres of water to the people of Sahil region in March 2017, and donating millions of dollars to the $10 million fundraising campaign organized by Somaliland’s National Drought Relief Committee (NDRC).
B) INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS
4. Construction of Berbera Corridor project
The 250 km Berbera-Wajaale highway project, also known as the ‘Berbera Corridor’ that will serve as a major economic link between Somaliland and Ethiopia, was signed between both governments in mid 2015.
The $250 million costs for the project, was pledged by DP World and the Government of the UAE. Construction of the project begun in 2016, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.
5. Renovation of Berbera International Airport
The renovation of Somaliland’s Berbera International Airport, was promised under the Somaliland-UAE military base deal signed between both countries in February 2017.
Berbera International Airport, is the second-largest airport in the country, and its 4,140m airstrip is one of the longest airstrips in Africa. According to the military base agreement, the Government of the UAE will build a modern airport intended for both civillian, and cargo flights. The new civillian modern airport will be completed in 2019.
6. DP World’s $442 million investment in Berbera Port
The historic agreement between DP World and the Government of Somaliland in 2016 to develop the port of Berbera, has to be the most important infrastructure project and one of Representative Omar’s most important achievements. Although landing the deal was a team effort, Omar was the main individual tasked with negotiating the agreement, and relaying all communication from the President.
The international port operator, operates over 70 ports and other businesses in more than 40 countries. The investment project, which is already in it’s first phase, is expected to kickstart Somaliland’s economy upon its completion, and create thousands of jobs for unemployed Somalilanders.
The port is expected to be completed by 2020.
7. Berbera Free Zone agreement
A new economic free zone in Berbera that will span over 12 square kilometres and will serve as a regional trade hub, was also part of the 2016 agreement signed between DP World and the Government of the Republic of Somaliland.
The free trade zone will not only stimulate economic growth in Somaliland, but will also stimulate economic growth in neighbouring countries, including Ethiopia, which is a landlocked country, and is currently home to the fastest-growing economy in East Africa.
4 square km of the free trade zone is expected to be developed first.
C) POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC ACHIEVEMENTS
8. UAE-Somaliland military base deal
The military base deal signed between the Government of the Republic of Somaliland and the United Arab Emirates in early 2017, comes right after the Berbera Port Investment deal as Representative Omar’s second-most notable achievement.
The deal, which grants the United Arab Emirates a military base in Berbera for 25 years, provided Somaliland with a lot of important development, economic and military-related projects, in return.
The construction of the military base, which has already begun, is expected to be completed next year.
To read more about the agreement, click here.
9. UAE-based airline carriers launching flights to Somaliland
Since Omar’s appointment in 2015, two-UAE based airline carries have started to launch direct flights from the UAE to Somaliland’s capital city of Hargeisa.
Prior to Omar’s tenure, flights between Somaliland and the UAE were operated by local Somali airlines. The arrival of Dubai-owned Flydubai in 2015, and Sharjah-owned Air Arabia in 2017, has strengthened economic ties between the two countries, and is expected to pave the way for more UAE-based businesses to invest in Somaliland.
10. Establishing the first Somaliland representative office in the UAE
Prior to Representative Omar’s appointment, relations between the two countries weren’t as strong due to Somaliland not having a physical presence.
In early 2016, President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo inaugurated a modern representative office that was built under Representative Omar’s watch.
The establishment of the office has given UAE officials, businessmen, and other members of the international community, an opportunity to directly approach Somaliland’s representatives on issues of mutual interest.