The government of Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland may award a concession to DP World Ltd. to develop the port of Bosaso, President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali said.
Ali traveled to Dubai last week to discuss the concession, he said in an interview March 21 in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, where he was on an unofficial visit. Michael Vertigans, a spokesman for DP World, declined to comment beyond saying the company continues to seek opportunities in Africa.
“The discussion is ongoing,” Ali said. “It hasn’t yet been finalized.” He declined to provide further details.
Puntland, situated on the tip of the Horn of Africa, declared autonomy in 1998 and severed ties with Somalia’s federal administration in August 2013 after accusing the government of failing to distribute power and share resources including foreign aid with the region. While it’s been relatively stable compared to southern Somalia, which has been battling an Islamist insurgency for the past decade, it has faced attacks by al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab and Islamic State militants.
Puntland’s constitution allows the government to perform all the functions of a state, including mobilizing revenue for basic services such as security, according to the World Bank’s website. Its main source of revenue is customs and taxes on international trade.
Puntland’s government has yet to discuss the issue of sharing revenue from the port’s development with Somalia’s federal government, Ali said.
“But that doesn’t exclude us from developing the port itself,” he said.
Last year, DP World won a 30-year concession with an automatic 10-year extension to manage and develop a multi-purpose port project at Berbera in the neighboring Somali territory of Somaliland. The company said at the time it plans to invest $442 million and that the first phase would involve a 400-meter (1,312-foot) quay and a 250,000 square-meter yard extension.
Last month, Somaliland’s parliament voted unanimously to allow the United Arab Emirates to establish a military base at Berbera. Ali denied there were any similar plans to establish an Emirati base in Puntland, which is situated across the sea from Yemen at the entrance to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal.
“There is no military base and there are no plans” for one, he said.
Ali declined to comment on how Puntland would work with newly elected Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed on establishing a federal administration or on what share of revenue the region should receive from the government in Mogadishu.
When the Somali leader, known as Farmajo, was previously prime minister in a Somali transitional federal government, Ali served as one of several deputies and also as minister of planning and international cooperation. Ali rose to replace Farmajo after the latter abruptly resigned.
Both Ali and Farmajo are dual U.S.-Somali citizens, and lived in Buffalo, New York.
“Farmajo has our goodwill and we’re trying to welcome that goodwill from him,” Ali said. “We’ll work hand-in-hand with him. We are one Somalia.”