The government of Somalia’s Galmudug State has signed an agreement with a UK-based consortium to build a port in the coastal town of Hobyo.
The deal was announced on Twitter by Abdisabir Nur Shurie, Galmudug’s minister for ports and fisheries.
The minister says the deal was signed in London with Oriental Terminal, which he said was made up of Turkish, British and Somali companies.
Shurie added that the first survey team would arrive in the country to plan the construction and operation of the port, which he said would bring "significant socio-economic changes in the lives of millions of people in Galmudug and neighbouring states".
The deal follows reports in June that the port would be built and operated by a "public-private entity", with the help of $90m from Somali businesses.
The announcement seems to end the involvement of Qatar in the project.
Last year, the government of Qatar was reported to have signed an agreement worth around $170m to build the port, and the project was to have been developed by state-owned port management company, Mwani Qatar.
Qatar has invested about $4bn in Somalia over the past eight years, and the Hobyo scheme was to be part of its effort to raise its influence in the country in competition with the other Gulf states (see further reading).
If the port and an associated economic zone do go ahead, it will help to cement the position of the state of Galmadug, which was founded in 2006, and which has tense relations with the federal government in Mogadishu.
Since the 13th century Hobyo has been a hub for merchants trading in textiles, precious metals and pearls. The main export crops in modern times have been livestock, hides, aromatic woods and raisins.
Image: Galmudug’s minister for ports and fisheries (Abdisabir Nur Shurie, via Twitter)