By Mustafe Abib
To begin with, Somaliland is situated in Horn of Africa. It lies between the 08°00′ – 11°30′ parallel north of the equator and between 42°30′ – 49°00′ meridian east of Greenwich. It is bordered by Djibouti to the north, Ethiopia to the south and west, and the Puntland region of Somalia to the east. Somaliland has a 740 kilometers (460 mi) coastline with the majority lying along the Gulf of Aden. The region is slightly larger than England, with an area of 137,600 km2 (53,100 sq. mi).
Berbera is one of most crucial cities in Somaliland, located coast of the Gulf of Aden. Berbera Port it’s very strategic in the Africa as whole, and particularly in the Horn of Africa. Also, it has one of important shipping lanes through Indian Ocean at the east, Gulf of Aden and Mediterranean Sea at the west.
As the hub of a logistics network which extends across the Horn of Africa, the Port of Berbera is Somaliland’s only container and general cargo port and a crucial supply chain interface for the region.
With according to Eng. Ali Hoor Hoor chairman of Berbera Port, handling all of the nation’s container trade, the Port of Berbera is one of Somaliland’s key economic assets and supports directly over 2,000 full time jobs. Berbera port facilities encompass more than 600 meters with terminal for containers, general cargo, office buildings and other properties.
Furthermore, in this region there are few ports that lie on the east of Africa coastline, Port Sudan in Sudan, Port of Assab in Eritrea, Port of Djibouti in Djibouti and Berbera Port in Somaliland, competition between them have not forgotten.
Nevertheless, Berbera Port, Djibouti Port in Djibouti, the two ports of Eretria (Assab and Massawa) and Port of Sudan in Sudan, all of those ports are very important to the development of Africa; natural resources to be extracted and moved in to the Indian Ocean based for China for 21th and 22th centuries, with exchanging to investment form foreigners.
The east Africa nations and sub-Sahara African nations all of where this possible of reaches, these governments aren’t transparent and moved around anticipating the planning and the building of those ports, and connecting railways, electricity and pipeline all of that to come.
In accordance with, Horn of Africa ports are struggling many challenges from the super powers. China has been signed an agreement by Ethiopia and Djibouti in order to extend his role in the region. Besides, existence of western countries. Djibouti has signed a settlement about economic, diplomacy and military with US, German and France. Also, they support anti-terrorism and piracy in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden. As well as, DP World (Dubai Port) have signed a partnership with Port of Djibouti. Entered into a build–operate–transfer (BOT) concession agreement with the Government of Djibouti to develop, finance, design, construct, manage, operate and maintain a new container terminal at Doraleh.
Meanwhile, another thing to keep in mind is that Egyptian government has a big role for the ports in the Horn of Africa region, particularly Assab Port in Eretria and Port of Sudan in Sudan; also Berbera Port is under consideration. Knowingly, Ethiopian and Egyptian have diplomatic conflict on Nile River.
For the last two years, Somaliland government had met a lot of delegations from Ethiopia and Egypt; they’re talking about strategy of using Berbera Port in the future time, and building relationships respectively.
The Abbey Millennium Dam of Ethiopia has not yet completed, although, Egypt fears a temporary reduction of water availability due to the filling of the dam and a permanent reduction because of evaporation from the reservoir.
For the last decade, Ethiopian had signed an agreement with Somaliland a partnership for the Berbera Port, withal Egyptian was interesting as military strategy.
Berbera Port is the point that maybe or maybe not to ignite the spark or to make a conflict between Egyptian and Ethiopian when we talk about game of ports in Horn of Africa, because they’re very interesting, and they’re seeing very important on their ground plan; Ethiopians for economically purpose, Egyptians for security term.
On the other hand, there’s also another thing you have to take into account, Saudi and Egypt have very high strategy priority to stability of the Red Sea Shipping Lanes, that is critical to economic variability of both countries. Moreover, Saudi Arabia pulling through much of 800-billion-dollar Sovereign Wealth Fund in order to sustain the Saudi economy during oil price recession. Equally important, “Egyptian troops had moved into the port of Berbera in late 2015 to support the Saudi Arabian-led coalition fighting in Yemen (where Egyptian Ground Force units have been deployed in Aden, and elsewhere). Essentially, visiting Egyptians has to say that Egypt was soliciting not only the rights to use Berbera, but also to win the military support of Somaliland in a possible Egyptian conflict with Ethiopia” Said Gregory Copley, President of the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA).
Another way to view this, friendship of Somaliland’s and Ethiopians has not been forgotten, Ethiopia have built strong relationship with Somaliland, and gave full diplomat sovereignty, also, they except Somaliland Passport, using Berbera Port as alternative port according Port of Djibouti. Moreover, the prime minister of Ethiopia Haile Mariam Desalegn declared to defend Somaliland while he told the Parliamentarians on 21th May, 2013. Desalegn said “Somaliland is a friend and a key strategic ally for Ethiopia. We will spare no expense to defend and protect Somaliland. We are ready to extend an arm of support to our Somaliland brothers every time they are in need of one.”
For the above mentioned reasons, there is no doubt that Berbera Port is the only key to get Somaliland recognition by the competition for foreign countries. Furthermore, if Ethiopia will not the first Government that announces for the recognition and will not give full sovereignty (recognition) of Somaliland soon, you have to know another thing that you need to keep in mind is that, the Arabian countries will portray on their role in this region as whole, particularly Egypt and Saudi Arabia. There’s no question that Somaliland’s best days are behind it.