The Djibouti Africa Regional Express 1 (DARE1) submarine cable system installation and planned route is creating animosity between Djibouti and Somaliland.
Installation of the DARE1 sea cables which connects Djibouti (Djibouti), Mogadishu (Somalia) and Mombasa (Kenya) came to an abrupt stop after Somaliland coast guards sent away a Djiboutian ship laying the cable within Somaliland territorial waters.
The bone of contention here is that Somaliland authorities who were initially anger by non inclusion as beneficiary of the connection that delivers up to 30 Tbps of capacity, say they were never consulted as pertains use of their territorial waters or the purpose.
When the submarine cable system was launched Djiboutian authorities had indicated that Somaliland was a partner especially enforced by the participation of locally owned Somtel a major shareholder in conjunction with Djibouti Telcom and Telkom Kenya.
But the path laid out by entity contracted to lay the cables TE SubCom showed that Somaliland was not part of its works for the works thence the hullaballoo.
Djiboutian authorities were then fast in retracting early Somaliland involvement with that country’s communications minister Ridhwaan Abdillahi Bahdoon clearly stating during a BBC Somali service interview that the cable gives Somaliland a wide berth.
Below verbatim excerpts of the BBC Somali service interview the Somaliland and Djibouti postal and communications ministers Dr Abdiwali Sheikh Abdillahi Suufi and Ridhwaan Abdillahi Bahdoon respectively
Dr Abdiwali Sheikh Abdillahi Suufi Somaliland Postal Services and Communication minister.
Quote’ We are not aware of the said installation of the submarine cables for the DARE1 system and our government having not been consulted by our neighbor Djibouti on the issue the coast guards coming into contact with a Djiboutian ship laying the said cabled chased it away to international waters where it does not need our permission to operate.
While access to the DARE1 system that delivers up to 30 Tbps of capacity would have been very welcome to our country we have policies in place that dictate on process of availability especially through major participation by the government in Hargeisa.
As for ongoing plans the government of Somaliland and three major local companies namely Telesom, Somtel and Somcable are in advanced consultations to install a submarine cable through Berbera.
In conclusion the Somaliland postal services minister said that nobody shall utilize his country’s territorial waters on any activity without permission from the government of the Republic of Somaliland
The DARE1 Cable will connect from Djibouti to Somalia via the port of Bossaso then Mogadishu enroute to Mombasa Kenya thence Somaliland not in the map.
Though Somaliland is not in the map of beneficiary the submarine cable whose works is now in progress shall pass through the country’s main port city of Berbera, thus the misconception Somaliland waters have been infringed upon should be discarded.
On the purpose of visit by his interior ministry colleague to Hargeisa, Minister Bahdoon said the objective was not in relation to the current DARE1 submarine cable installation standoff between the two countries. Unquote.
For Somaliland and Djibouti that enjoy good Socio Economic and cross border Ties that are regularly cemented by visits at heads of state level, the DARE1 system might brings things to a big about turn and for the worse considering that Djibouti is a close ally of Somalia whose federal government in Mogadishu is the main nemesis of counterparts in Hargeisa
Originally published in Somaliland Sun