Somalia to go ahead with $170m port scheme

A Somalian politician has said the state government of Galmadug will build a port in the town of Hobyo through a new "public-private entity", raising questions over the involvement of Qatar, which undertook to fund it last year.

Abdisabir Shurie, the Galmadug minister for ports and fisheries, said at a rally in Hobyo that the project would open the state to the world.

"We’ve launched the Hobyo Port initiative aimed at facilitating trade for the people of our state and beyond," he said. "A public-private entity will be established soon to raise capital from investors."

The rally was also addressed by the newly elected president of Galmudug State, Ahmed Abdi Kariye, better known as Qoor Qoor (pictured). He added that the business community in the state had pledged $90m towards its construction.  

The comments suggest that a Qatari-funded plan to build the port could be off the table.

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 as using local resources, 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 and the state of Puntland to the north. At present, the government is also attempting to disarm clan militias.

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: President Qoor Qoor, right, running on Hobyo beach after Saturday’s rally (via Twitter)

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