Somaliland: Reaping Recognition from Resources?


L- Somaliland Ministry of energy officials with Eng Hussein Duale (C) discuss contract with Dongson Company Representatives (R) in Hargeisafile

Somalilandsun – Somaliland has yet to be officially recognised as an independent country, but its new friend China has shown interest in mineral exploration there. Its resources sector could be what puts Somaliland on the map.


On 8 April, the Somaliland Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, Hussein Abdi Dualeh, welcomed a visiting delegation of Chinese businesspeople, consisting of 20 representatives from energy company Guangzhou Dongsong Energy Company (GDEC) Limited. The delegation was in Somaliland to begin work on the exploration, mapping and extraction of coal, as part of the development of Somaliland’s energy sector.


GDEC and the Somaliland Government had previously agreed on the work in February 2014, after the company became convinced Somaliland has good oil and mineral prospects. The agreement could have immense benefits for Somaliland, by enabling it to more fully benefit from its resources.

Regular electricity supplies would be a specific benefit to the residents of the capital, Hargeisa. For over a week now, sections of the town have been without electricity due to power outages. The development of coal-powered energy under the GDEC agreement would go a long way towards solving that problem. The Somaliland government’s agreement with GDEC includes the construction of a power plant, which will produce electricity from locally mined coal.

This could be the beginning of a new China-Somaliland bilateral relationship. One of the delegates from GDEC hinted at the future strengthening of bilateral ties, when he said that the survey would be of ‘important significance in the signing of future agreements and contracts’ between the two parties.

There may be even more benefits for Somaliland. China has pledged to open new doors for it and an invitation has been extended to Somaliland’s President, Ahmed Mohamed Mahmoud Silanyo, to visit China in the near future. GDEC has even gone to the extent of promising to establish a Chinese language website, to promote what Somaliland has to offer to the Chinese people.

Somaliland ministry of Energy DG Saeed Jibril and Dongson representative during press briefing in Borame about ongoing surveys/file

The company also talked about opening an office in the industrial city of Guangzhou, aimed at promoting Somaliland’s interests; which could also be used as a commercial office. The office would, in the future, issue visas and facilitate diplomatic relations between the Somaliland and Chinese Governments.

On a political level, Somaliland is not yet recognised as an independent country; although it is, seemingly, a viable, functioning and reasonably well-governed state. The new and promising ties with a contending superpower, and United Nations Security Council Permanent Member, would be of immense help to a country still trying to make its mark on the map. Aiding Somaliland with its energy supplies and development of the resources sector, while also helping to promote it abroad, could mean a new ally for China in eastern Africa.

Adil Cader

Research Assistant

Indian Ocean Research Programme