- The government of the breakaway republic Somaliland today signed a joint venture agreement with Germany's Sougueta Engineering AG on establishing a cement factory, coal powered electricity plant and a gypsum factory at the cost of US$ 250-300 million. Somaliland's President is currently on a successful European roundtrip, advocating the recognition of his country and foreign investments.
According to a press release issued by Somaliland's Foreign Minister Abdillahi Mohammed Dualle and a copy of which was sent to 'Awdalnews Network', the agreement with Sougueta was concluded in a official meeting between a Somaliland delegation visiting Cologne led by President Dahir Riyale Kahin and Hans Jürgen Gartner, President of Sougueta Engineering AG. It was the result of nine months negotiations between the two sides.
Somaliland President Kahin and his delegation, currently visiting Germany, also held meetings with German Parliament's Committee for Economy and International Cooperation and senior officials from the German African Business Association (GABA).
The Somaliland side said it had briefed the German officials on investment opportunities in Somaliland. A GABA delegation has already visited Somaliland and acquainted itself with the country's achievements in restoring peace and stability and available business opportunities, in stark contrast to Somalia.
President Kahin, who had visited the UK in his first leg of a European tour, earlier held talks in London mid-August with David Triesman, UK Foreign Office Minister responsible for Africa, as part of a mission pressing Somaliland's quest for recognition and economic assistance from its ex-colonial power.
However, the delegation - which was planned to visit Washington and held talks with US State Department officials - now says it will return to Somaliland instead to expedite the procedures related to the German business opportunity.
Somaliland, a former British protectorate that joined a united Somalia after independence in 1960, broke away 15 years ago but has since failed to win official recognition from any other nation. The current political offensive of the Somaliland leaders is therefore seen as an effort to use the recent developments in Somalia and international concern about the growing power of the Islamic Courts in Mogadishu as leverage to further its case.
Somaliland's Finance Minister Hussein Ali Dualeh warned that his country would fight against reunification - which is demanded by southern Somalia - and that a conflict could spill over into neighbouring countries, including Ethiopia. "If we are forced into a war, it will be a war that has no end," he told the 'Financial Times' in London.
Mr Dualeh argued that his country was being punished by the international community for its success in building peace and stability. He said Somaliland was not asking for bilateral aid from the US or Britain but wanted access to World Bank and African Development Bank credit.
Ministers accompanying President Kahin told the British press that they hoped an East African country - such as Kenya - might take the lead in granting Somaliland recognition. But there has been little indication of Kenya's readiness to do so. Arab countries - notably Egypt, which is an African Union member - have strongly opposed a break-up of Somalia.
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