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Somaliland advances new port construction in Lughaya amid Ethiopia agreement talks

Friday April 19, 2024

An aerial view of Lughaya Beach, showcasing the vibrant coastal town against the backdrop of the serene blue waters of the Gulf of Aden—a historic site in the Awdal region where Ethiopia and Somaliland have agreed to build a port as part of their contentious New Year's Day MoU. (CREDIT/ Wikicommons)

Hargeisa (HOL) — Somaliland, a self-declared autonomous region, is advancing the construction of a new port in Lughaya, a historic city in the Awdal region, amid ongoing discussions about its strategic agreements with Ethiopia. The government has allocated $1 million to this project, a sum given to former President Dahir Riyale Kaahin, with additional funding expected from local business leaders and elders.

The project's commencement date remains unannounced, though preliminary financial planning has been disclosed. The total projected cost for the construction has yet to be determined.

The port's development was a key campaign promise of President Muse Bihi in 2017 and is gaining traction as elections approach. According to Abdi Nasir Buuni, Somaliland's Minister of Council Relations and Constitutional Affairs, the necessary preparations are complete, and construction is expected to begin shortly. "The economy is our foremost concern, and President Bihi's administration has supplied the necessary technical resources," Buuni said. The port is expected to boost trade and create job opportunities, contributing to the region's economic growth. An official announcement regarding the start of construction is anticipated soon, marking an end to the period of anticipation.

Former Somaliland President Dahir Riyale Kahin. He was President of Somaliland from 2002 to 2010. He also was Vice President of Somaliland from 1997 to 2002.

This development follows early-year reports of a leasing agreement between Ethiopia and Somaliland that included provisions for a landing port and a military base on the Red Sea. However, specifics of the deal, including the port's exact location, were not publicly confirmed until Ridwan Hussein, a former national security advisor to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, identified Lughaya as the location in a January interview.

Despite Somaliland's lack of international recognition, it has engaged in multiple international agreements concerning port development, as defended by Hussein. Buuni also emphasized that the Lughaya project is purely for development and has no plans related to acquiring equipment for the port. "There's no connection; it's solely a development project now. Once the port is operational, it will fulfill its intended functions," Buuni explained to the BBC.

Lughaya is located 50 km south of Djibouti and 200 km north of Berbera. It is an important regional center in the northwest of the Awdal region, governed by Somaliland. The population is primarily composed of herders and fishermen. The area spans 10,421 square kilometres and supports a total population of 182,706.


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