Somaliland’s lack of shrewd and wise resource policy is breeding a scramble for concession among foreign companies who are seeking to take advantage of a novice government that feels it has a weak negotiating position.
The latest concession (Block 18) is a clear demonstration of the manner the present Somaliland government is mishandling these contracts. According to the government and press release following the signing of the concession, the Block was granted to a “Norwegian Company known as , DNO International ASA (DNO International)”. However, upon further investigation, we discovered that 30% of DNO is actually owned by 16 Gulf State Sheiks that include the head of Ras Al -Kheima Emirate of UAE and his partner Shiek Suleiman Al-Jabir.In the past, Rayaale government allowed these two Sheiks to monopolize Livestock export from Somaliland, an act which bankrupted all the mid-level Somaliland exporters, and reduced the big exporters to play a subservient role as mere brokers and purchasers for the Sheiks.
Also included in the list of Sheiks that own a controlling share of DNO is Shahir Shaher Abdulhak, a Yemeni sheik with a dubious background. The Sheik is known in the Arab world by the nickname “ the King of Sugar.” He business modus operandi is to cultivate close relationship with dictators of Arab governments and then use the influence to gain monopoly on certain sectors of the national economy. In four countries (Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and Sudan), the sheik had a close relationship with the now defunct dictators. Using this relationship, the sheik was able to monopolize many sectors of these national economies crushing other competitors. Sheik Shaher Abdulhak recently ( June 08, 2013) visited Hargeisa and was granted audience with the president and his close confidants.The purpose of his visit, according to official government statement, was that he is a businessman interested to invest in Somaliland. Which sector of Somaliland economy the sheik wishes to invest was not revealed at the time. Araweelo News and arraweelo.com, two websites that specialize in Somaliland local news and human rights advocacy, published an article stating that the Sheik was actually carrying a message from the Egyptian government regarding the Egypto-Ethopian quarrel over the Nile river water. Hubaal newspaper, a local daily newspaper, re-published the article on June 9, 2013. The article apparently offended some powerful people within government because, two days following the publication of the article, the government sent a platoon of armed police officers who raided Hubaal headquarters and promptly shut it down on trumped up charges.
By. Arta Abayn