Published On: Thu, Aug 25th, 2011

Editorial: Somaliland – It’s time to consider calling in the professionals

The quest for business and new opportunities means that much of Africa is proving to be an increasingly attractive proposition for a whole raft of companies. Where once the continent was essentially a no-go area for many commercial concerns the current dynamic is such that there has been a fundamental re-assessment. Somaliland is just one of a number of African countries eager to capitalise on this spirit of engagement, yet for all the opportunities for purposeful and profitable relationships potential pitfalls await. The seemingly dazzling world of multi-million dollar deals is beset with dangers and currently few if any African countries are properly prepared to ensure that mechanisms are in place in order to minimise risk.

In recent years a range of companies: Africa Oil Corp, Canmex Minerals Corporation, Consort Private Ltd, Petronas and Range Resources Ltd have shown interest in the Horn of Africa. The shopping list of items sought by these companies is extensive: bauxite, coal, copper, gold, iron ore, manganese, tin and uranium to name just a few. Oil and gas are invariably primary motives for engaging with the region, but the recent tri-partite negotiations involving China, Ethiopia and Somaliland have demonstrated the desirability of access to strategic ports and collaboration with regard to the development of transport links. President Silanyo’s recent travels to Beijing and Addis Ababa have underlined the significance of such partnerships, yet both he and his delegation would be the first to admit that such negotiations have been a steep learning curve. China has a wealth of experience in bi-lateral (or in this case tri-lateral) trade agreements with African nations, invariably Beijing includes clauses related to Taiwan and they are consummate professionals when it comes to ensuring that such negotiations work to their advantage. Seasoned observers of the recent negotiations concerning the port of Berbera were not at all surprised to see that it was a Hong Kong based company – Petro Trans Company that was selected by Beijing to be the Chinese partner in the project. China knows only too well that Hong Kong connotes a more internationalist commercial message, one perceived to be free from the idealogical straightjacket of the power brokers in Beijing. The Chinese are highly skilled negotiators, who like Somalis are very conscious of heshima (loss of face) and invariably put in place a strong negotiating team eager to ensure that China secures the deal it desires in a manner of near feigned indifference as opposed to a case of I si, I si (give me, give me).

The levels of diplomacy and negotiation that Somaliland is now having to enter into requires specialist knowledge of a number of areas including: the energy and port sectors, international treaties as well as maritime and commercial law. The stakes are now so high that it is imperative that the Government of Somaliland give serious consideration to investing in using the services of individuals and organisations that can help protect the country’s interests. Whilst it is vital to enter into negotiations in a spirit of positivity and pragmatism; due diligence is also essential as is having the legal safeguards, expertise and expertise to hand to prevent things going awry or to handle them if they do. Companies such as Zaiwalla & Co – “Specialists in international commercial arbitration and litigation” can provide a wealth of guidance and insight that helps elucidate the mechanisms and processes necessary to survive and prosper in the complex world of commercial and diplomatic negotiations. Over the last two decades Somaliland and its people have demonstrated a remarkable ingenuity and capacity to survival. No one denies that the country and its Diaspora possesses a wealth of talented individuals, but as more and more people, organisations and governments take in interest in Somaliland now is the time for the country to give serious thought to engaging and utilising specialist expertise to help it fulfil its potential and safeguard its interests.

Mark T Jones

  • Gobaad

    "…The stakes are now so high that it is imperative that the Government of Somaliland give serious consideration to investing in using the services of individuals and organisations that can help protect the country’s interests …" I totally agree with Mr. Jones that Somaliland has to be careful of the dealings and wheelings of the Chinese highly skilled negotiators as pointed out by Mr. Jones, and to proceed with due diligence in investigating businesses or persons we are dealing with before signing a contract. They have to be wary and on guard about entrapments and unforeseen pittfalls that will come to haunt us later on. They have to be watchful not to be easily and naively lured into a dangerous territory and compromising situation that will be difficult to get out of it.

    Thank you Mr. Jones for your advice and guidance.

  • Aar

    Every Adan Madoobe must go and serve the regime nobody else is welcome. We Habaryoonis and rest are excluded to have opportunities in the country.

  • Dahir

    Aar, you are an impersonator there is no way these words are uttered by any Somalilander let alone a Habaryoonis brother.

    • amal

      trust me there are impersonators who are tying to make HY, HA to go against HJ. Wallah these people are desperate

  • Aar

    Look my people are starving in the eastern somaliland and the regime is feeding H/Jeclo in the presidential kitchen. Who you think I am?

    • Yusuf

      I know who you are, you are a low-live impersonator. Ask me how I know your identity, simple, Somalilanders do not use these cheap slurs. Go to Hiiraan online or Garowe online where this language of yours is spoke.

  • amal

    There are many impersonators in this websites, and they do nothing but spread lies and mischief in the month of Ramadan. These people need to fear Allah.

  • Aar

    Soon we will use Bosasso to import aid to our region we Habaryonis we made our mind and disbading from Kulniye regime.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003406804731 AriiNie

      Thats always a good idea. It not only give the other party more inaimrftoon about you it also looks professional.I always attatched few things in my signature:1) My title in my company2) My contact inaimrftoon such as e-mails, phone3) My websites URL’s4) My location

  • amal

    @Aar

    STOP using our noble name of Habar Younis, you are just a desperate pirate hahaha

  • I Jama

    Aaah I see, You're claiming to be Habar Younis but talk about Bosasso. What a confused man/woman you are? Also the only reason Bosasso want Aid to go to their port is because they wish to sell it to the poor like Somalia TFG is doing. These ppl are opportunists and their cover is blown. Subxana Allah They know Somaliland is much more secure and will distribute aid. So they are pushing their fraudsters in Kenya to help them get their hands on the Aid.
    Its mind blowing the lengths these warlords go to take power and money.

  • Aar

    Time will proof you who I am soon you will hear our action.

  • Abdow

    Waxaa baafinaayaa Debad oo ka tirsanaa jabhada SNM oo aan isku qabnay Saudi Arabia, Jiddah Kiiloo Sabca. Hadda Marka Caday Aan joogaa

  • warya

    @ Dahir, Amal, I JAMA

    You know what I have realized? There are many people who come on this site just to vent their hatred. They are sad individuals who are bitter with their own lives and so they enter this site skip to the comment section and blab off to anyone they could find.

    These people don't necessarily have to be from any one region or tribe just people with a common hate for Somaliland, namely the Isaaq. So what do they hate?

    1. They hate our peace;
    3. They hate our sense of purpose;
    4. They hate our accomplishments i.e. defeating Said Barre's army
    5. They hate our development;
    6. They hate our military strength. i.e. we have power but choose not to use it; which is a bigger slap in the face to them
    7. And most of all they hate our UNITY

    That is why all these various groups from SSC, Al shabab, Nsum, TFG and Puntland are all trying to destabilize Somaliland at all costs. Even the whole Awdal state idea came from these sick people. The Borama elders and intellectuals have all rejected them outright and so now they are starting something new like inter-Isaaq fitnah.

    Ignore Aar he has many names like Borma Girl kkkk sick dude! I'm done replying to these strange people.

    • puntland

      @warya

      sxb i'm not that sort of guy who pretends to be someone else. Aar, Somali hero, Borma Girl, Las Anod Boy. i aint none of theses ppl wallahi i swear on Allah name. i ave no hate for somaliland, they are my reer abti.
      since somaliland continue to distance herself from somalia & becomes a stooge & serve ethiopian interests, den i'm your biggest problem. well for a start im a somali nationalist, i believe all somalis including ogaden should unite as one & most of all i respect tribal boundaries. if reer abti Issaq wants somaliland den how can this be possibly wen non-Isaaq clans reject ur secession?
      we need to redraw ours borders peacefully.

    • amal

      I'm Habar younis and I laughed out loud when I saw what these haters wrote about how we want to join puntland instead of Somaliland loool wallahi that's just pure desperation. when all their ticks failed they are stupidly trying to start inter-issaq fitnah.

      They have too much xaasidnimo and envy. I actually didn't think they hated us that much. I guess we shouldn't waste our precious time on replying to them.

      • amal

        Puntland

        Somaliland is your reer abti, nooo way man

  • abdi

    I totally agree whole heartedly that we need many expertise in any negotiations. we also require strong laws in all major areas of the economy to ensure we benefit from these deals, to minimize risks and to saveguard our environment.

  • togdheerboy

    Sick premitive people are every where. The first in this website is the Ad……

  • Mohammed

    Mark,

    May I ask why you mention a little known company such as Zaiwalla & Co in light of your article talking about the need for experts? There are a large number of better known international firms out there Clifford Chance, Eversheds, SNR Denton to name just a few. Given the size of pie at stake, surely we should look for the best?

    • Saeed Elmi

      Mohammed.
      I had the some question, and I think i know the answer. Mark Jones is promoting this company. I wonder what his motives are. Zaiwalla & Co is a law firm that is located in London, and I am sure they would like to get some of the pie and represent Somaliland. Mr, Mark Jones wrote " The stakes are now so high that it is imperative that the Government of Somaliland give serious consideration to investing in using the services of individuals and organisations that can help protect the country’s interests" These companies are not there to protect any one's interest but the interest of their own and their share holders. We need to evaluate every person and company we do business with and decide what is best for us and our country, we need to put our best foot forward and protect our interest. No one else will do if for us.
      Saeed Abdi Elmi.

      BS in Healthcare Administration,

      License Psychiatric Technician.

      PHD Industrial Organizational Psychology Student http://blog.somalilandmentalhealth.org/

    • Naliye

      Its nothing more than and advertisement.

      • Mohammed

        Apologies I have mis-read the name of the article's author so he is not the same chap works at Zaiwalla but the choice of company is still something rather odd. I work in the oil & gas sector and can honestly say I've not heard of them and so my question to the author still remains valid.

  • Mohammed

    Actually looking at the Zaiwalla website, surely you should have shared the fact that you are the practise manager at Zaiwalla & Co? I guess this answers my previous question…

  • Ahmed

    Mohammed,
    We do not know where you are getting this information from friend, when I look at Zaiwalla website http://www.zaiwalla.co.uk/our-people/ the Mark that you are referring is not Mark Jones but Mark Townsend.
    I believe you own an apology to Mark Jones because I know personally that Mark Jones is not Mark Townsend.

    Cheers
    Ahmed

  • puntland

    Habar jeclo ma darood ba? Habar Yoonis are more daroods den Issaq. they are well known for being peace, they are not land grabbers lyk Habar Awal & habar jeclo.

  • Saeed Elmi

    It is very sad that at this stage of our live that we are still talking about tribalism. Some of the comments are disgraceful. This kind of behavior is the reason that our country is destroyed. We need to move on and think of how we can reconstruct our country so we can leave something behind for our kids.
    Somali-land decided to take control of their destiny. They saw that nothing good will come out reuniting with the rest of Somalia.
    My sincere advice to the rest of Somalians is that to stop killing each other and start rebuilding your country. Look at what is happening to your children dying for hunger.
    Now let me talk about the real issue here. Can someone explain to me what this tribalism has to do with this article. if you are are making comments about tribalism when the article is about investing in somaliland, just shows your lack of understanding of the issue.

    Saeed Abdi Elmi.

    BS in Healthcare Administration,

    License Psychiatric Technician.

    PHD Industrial Organizational Psychology Student
    http://blog.somalilandmentalhealth.org/

  • S A Mohamoud

    How much time and energy are wasted in talking about clan names and indulging on clannish politics that time and again proofed useless and reactionary in Somali context.
    When I started reading these comments, I was looking for what people say about the article written by Mr. Jones.

    I am really disappointed that young people in the Diaspora instead of learning something useful to Somalis learn clan names and use them in the most divisive and disrespectful way.
    Why can’t they once and for all be like their counterparts in the world and disassociate themselves with all this rubbish that dwarfs their otherwise smart minds?
    I guess those who write these kinds of comments are losers who failed in their schools but are only capable writing vulgarities to vent their frustrations.
    To these people, I can only advise, please learn and read

    Saeed, Hargeisa

    • Saeed Elmi

      S A Mohamoud.
      I agree with you. The people who are writing these comments are wasting their priceless time. It just show how ignorant they are. Just as you said they need to learn and read so they can understand what the article is about and intellectually give their opinion about the article.

      Saeed Abdi Elmi.

      BS in Healthcare Administration,

      License Psychiatric Technician.

      PHD Industrial Organizational Psychology Student http://blog.somalilandmentalhealth.org/

  • Abraham

    Great article from Mark Jones. I said the same thing a while ago in one of my comments and I hope our government takes your advice seriously.

  • Mohamed_Mahmoud

    It is great to know that the Somaliland gov't is engaging with the World in seeking investment opportunities. True, many of those investors will have their own agenda and as such the gov't must be prepared to instruct the 'best' advisors. Most of the investments on the table have more to do with national dignity and security. Oil, gas minerals exploration can uplift the economy, improving the wellbeing of its people, as the case in Botswana. Or a curse, as seen in Nigeria, et cetera.

    I think the best people to handle such engagement are the Somalilanders themselves. Why engage others when we have able and competent individuals from Somaliland to do the business? I suggest 'Invicta Capita' led by our own Mohammed Yousef. He is a lawyer, with deep knowledge in capital investment, and has shown his commitment in Somaliland by investing his own resources in the country.

    NB. Could Somaliland press please regulate the comments and delete offending ones, and if possible remove the offenders. There is absolutely no need to the kind of language some write.

    • Mohammed

      Mohammed,

      You have forgotten the issue of conflict of interest. While Mohammed Yusuf is an experienced lawyer a his speciality is film finance not natural resources and secondly he is a major investor in the aforementioned industry you suggests he advises. The point about hiring a qualified 3rd party is that their advice will not be have the question mark of self-interest hanging over it.

      The idea that we Slanders are capable of sitting at the table with large MNC's as equals is farcical. The main difference between the likes of the GCC countries and African countries in terms of their oil industries is the use of experts. A simple clause could cost a country hundreds of millions of dollars so while we are a lot better than many of our neighbours, we are many years away from not needing outside help.

      • Mohamed_Mahmoud

        Mohamed,

        I disagree.

        We must actively play our role in developing our country. Believe in destiny is pivotal, but we need self-believe in our ability to steer us towards success. Doing that, we must have strong faith in God, and do not forgot that his will is paramount. The Quran is replete with examples of human drama where the players were convinced that they were writing the script, only to find at the end of the day that God was the choreographer behind the scenes.

        Let me address your points in turn.

        1.Mohamed Yusuf is a Somalilander, first and foremost. He is an experienced Lawyer. That means he can and will apply his professional view on investments for the country with a slant towards his motherland – because he will feel for his country. Law of investment is same across the board – whether in films or mines. Moreover, I doubt that someone like him, will steal from his country.

        2.The best example of where people have taken forward their development is Botswana. Forget the Arabs who employ people but do nothing themselves. Having said that, even Arabs are now busy giving natives positions which were help but aliens. Even if we may not have the experts at hand, we must bring in positions systems which encourage home-bred professional to determine our success.

        3.You are engaging in self-hate by assuming that a foreigner will better develop your country. Our people are better in understanding our needs and aspirations. We need to give self- purpose to achieve success for themselves.

        • Mohammed

          Mohammed,

          You have the right to disagree but the facts of the matter are in my favor.

          Yes Mr Yusuf is a lawyer but he is not an oil and gas specialist , infact the bulk of his money has been generated from arranging film financing.

          Yes he is a Slander and working for the benefit for his country. No one has suggested he would steal from his country but then again you have not convincingly answered how you will deal with the conflict of interest. This is like asking a customer in a shop to decide what price he should pay for the goods he wants to buy.

          The Botswananas have a great system but like every country with a good natural resources model, they use the best advisors in the world and have educated their people over time to take over e roles of responsibility. Would you suggest your little brother and his friends would be able to take on the Man U first team in a game of football? It takes time to build up experience and be able to get a fair deal for your country. Oil deals typically last longer than ten to twenty years and if you mess it up you squander the assets of the nation.

          Given the above would you care to explain why I aminegaging in self hate?

    • kamal

      Is that your true picture or did you put on gorilla custom. I think you are the missing link which biologist are trying to identify.

      • Mohamed_Mahmoud

        Kamal

        Thank you for the insult. God bless.

  • Jabuuti_Hanolatoo

    Ok why is Mark T Jones using his middle name? Is there another Mark Jones in this forum, site? I'll make a mental note of not confusing Mark T Jones with say Mark S Jones or Mark X Jones or Mark ZZZZ Jones should they ever write an article for S.L.Press.

    • Abraham

      And your point is?

  • Jabuuti_Hanolatoo

    s/b middle initial.

  • warya

    This article discusses the urgent need for experienced international players in our various government institutions; however, what is actually being done? The President and his Foreign Minister simply made a press statement claiming they have succeeded in attracting foreign investment, but what can of deal was it?
    I am not expecting the current or any future administrations to actually post the details of these delicate agreements for the whole world to see, but some relevant details would be nice. For example, we know of the Berbera port expansion, road and oil refinery development, but what about the highly anticipated railway system?

    - When will this project commence?
    - Who or what companies will provide the necessary training required to operate a rail syow stem?
    - Will the new system be used strictly for shipping industrial goods or will this rail be available as a new more efficient way of traveling around Somaliland?
    - Where will it start and how far will it reach? Borama to Las Anod would be nice
    - How will the system look like? Type of trains, will it be a straight shot across or will it branch off to all the major cities

    My second concern is does the President feel he must always be involved in every aspect of the nations governance. In this case, I would have preferred to hear the insightful words of some of the other Ministry leaders such development, Mining, since this deal directly deals with their respective areas of expertise.

    Finally, all this sounds too good to be true. And so I have to ask whatever happened to that Kuwaiti (Hargeisa and Berbera) Airport deal. The deal stated that the Kuwaitis would be investing amount like 10 million to renovate both these airports. Has talk become action yet?

    • warya

      My apologizes for the typos once gain :)

  • waran galbeed

    I totally agree with Mr Jones, but those of you who are unti somalilanders you better go to hell. Adeer halkan anagaa kaadidayada u soo cabnay!!!!!!!!!!

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