1.1 Historical Background
The northeast region of Somalia has, since mid-1998, been referred to as the Puntland State of Somalia . Although pre-colonial Somalian society did not have a national government with modern structures and clearly defined international borders, the northeast region had traditional structures of government dating from the early years of the 19 th century; namely, the Sultanate of Majerteen (1901–1927), whose territory included the current regions of Bari and Nugal, the Sultanate of Mudug/Hobyo (1885–1925) and the Sultanate of eastern Sanaag (1896–1925).
These Sultanates were relatively under-developed and far from achieving a modern status in terms of political and state management systems. They had administrative and military structures, which safeguarded security, social welfare and political stability until these were disrupted by colonial powers; the Italians in the first two Sultanates and the British in the third one. Trade and commercial relations existed between the Sultanates and the Indian sub-continent and Arabian Gulf states. For instance, ad valorem taxation systems, export of livestock, animal and agro-forestry products and import of consumer goods thrived in the Sultanate of Majerteen during the second half of the 19 th century and first quarter of the 20 th century.
The Italian and British conquest of the Sultanate in (1923-1927) suppressed the peoples’ resistance and destroyed all political, economic and commercial structures. The Italian fascist authorities were more repressive than the British, as reflected by the economic policies they applied to these regions. For instance, import-export trade and all the commercial transactions with above mentioned traditional markets were suspended and forcibly replaced with Italian trade companies, which imported consumer goods from Italy and exported salt, frankincense, hides, skin and agricultural cash crops (banana and cotton) to Italy through Mogadishu.
The suspension of trade markets and political structures of the former Sultanates by the colonial authorities had a devastating effect on the livelihood security, famine coping mechanism and employment/income earning opportunities of the northeastern communities. Pastoralists, merchants and fishermen had to immigrate to the southern regions in order to seek employment and trading opportunities.
Furthermore, the Sultans of Majerteen and Mudug, their families, relations and key collaborators, such as the traditional elders, were forcibly deported by the Italians to Mogadishu .
The Sultan of eastern Sanaag was exiled to the Seychelles Island by the British authorities. The deportation and exile of the Sultans, the compulsory conscription of more than 25,000 pastoralists (Italo-Ethiopian war of 1935-36) and destruction of economic, trade and political structures were all aimed to prevent or repress internal resistance and rebellion and to deplete and weaken the manpower resources of the conquered regions. The successive administrations that ruled the country in the 20 th century were British and Italian colonial authorities (mid 1920s-1960) and Somali governments (1960-1990).
In 1991, after the collapse of the Somali State , the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF), which was one of the opposition fighting factions against the Somali Government, was the only political and military structure that existed in the northeastern region at the time.
The SSDF leadership, supported by the population, had directed its political and military actions toward defending its territory from the invading forces from Southern Somalia , spearheaded by USC (1991-1993), and the containment of Al-Itihad religious fundamentalists, who tried to take over the political and military powers by force from SSDF in 1992. Both forces were defeated; it was a heroic action that invigorated the SSDF’s political and military posture, not only in the region, but also in the rest of Somalia .
1.2 Puntland State of Somalia
After a series of locally sponsored conferences, in which a traditional council of elders (Isimada) played an important role, the SSDF leadership and community elders had at last taken positive steps by calling an all-inclusive general conference in Garowe on May 5, 1998. The Puntland Regional State was formed, based on the design of three branches of government; Legislative (66 members, with 5 women), Judiciary, and Executive (President with Vice-President and 9 Ministers). Two regions- Sool and Eastern Sanag- also joined the former northeastern regions and, thus, jointly formed the Puntland State of Somalia as an autonomous regional administration.
As stipulated in Article 1 of the Transitional Constitution, Puntland is a part of an anticipated Federal State of Somalia . It is striving for the unity of the Somali people and the creation of a Somali government based on a federal system. The Puntland State consists of the following seven regions:
1.3 Trends of Political and Constitutional Development
Up until it was affected by the recently resolved internal conflict (following a peace accord reached on 17 th May 2003) the State of Puntland had shown some degree of initiative to step up the slow and hesitant development of governance structures and socio-economic reconstruction without the benefit of much international assistance.
Puntland State is geographically located in the eastern portion of Somalia . It borders with northwest regions in the west, Gulf of Aden in the north, Indian Ocean in the southeast, central regions in the south and Ethiopia in the southwest.
The total area of the State of Puntland is 212,510 km 2 , (roughly one-third of Somalia ‘s geographical area).
The State of Puntland is semi arid. The country has a warm climate and average daily temperatures range from 27 ° C to 37 ° C. This favours pastoralism as the most effective use of land in most parts of the State. The most valuable pastures include the Hawd region in the high plateau of the West of Mudug and Sool regions and into Ethiopia and the low Nugal valley. In contrast, it is only along the high mountain ranges of Bari that mild temperatures are experienced. In all other parts, the State generally endures tropical desert heat.
Rainfall is variable and sparse with no one area receiving more than 400mm of rain annually. Therefore, nomads rely primarily on wells as a water source rather than surface water. There are four main seasons dictated by shifts in wind patterns. Pastoral and agricultural life revolves around these seasons. These are:
- Jilal from January to March, the harshest dry season of the year;
- Gu is the main rainy season from April to June;
- Xagaa from July to September is the second dry season;
- Dayr is the shortest and less reliable rainy season, lasting from October to December.
3.1 Structure of the State
The structure of Puntland State consists of the Legislative (House of Representatives), the Judiciary, and the Executive (the President and Vice-President and his nominated Council of Ministers).
President: Mohamud Muse Hersi (Adde), elected by parliament on January 8, 2005
Vice-President: Hassan Dahir Mohamud, elected by parliament on January 8, 2005
House of Representatives: 66 Members from all regions
The territory’s first leader, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, served 1998 – 2004, until his election as Somalia ‘s transitional president in October 2004.
Puntland’s second President: Mohamed Abdi Hashi October 2004 – January 7, 2005
The capital of the Puntland State of Somalia is Garowe, with an estimated population of 50,000.
3.3 Other Major Towns
Other major towns are Bosasso, Galkacyo, Las Anod, Gardo, Baran and Buhoodle.
3.4 Major Port
The major port of Puntland State of Somalia is Bosasso Port.
The population of Puntland State is estimated at 2.4 million, of which 65% are nomadic.
4.1 Vital Statistics
The population growth rate of Puntland State is currently very high due to the influx of people from war-torn southern Somalia and from neighbouring countries.
Currently, 30% of Puntlanders live in the fast growing towns of Bosasso, Gardo, Las-Anod, Garowe, and Galkacyo. Approximately 70% of the population is below the age of 30.
Islam is the religion of Puntland. Virtually all Puntlanders are sunni-Muslims.
The official languages are Somali and Arabic. English and Italian are also widely spoken in Puntland.
The livestock sector dominates the economy of the Puntland regions. The livestock products not only contribute to the livelihood of the nomads, but are also a substantial portion of the daily food intake of the population living in rural and urban areas. The economy of Puntland is largely dependent on livestock exports, which contribute to approximately 80% of foreign exchange earnings, 40% of the GDP and 60% of employment opportunities.
The Somali coastline is 3,300 km long. The proportion attributable to the State of Puntland is approximately 1,300 km 2 , extending from Gara’ad on the Indian Ocean side to Laaso Surad on the Gulf of Aden, the waters of which constitute the richest fish habitats in the region.
The fish population in Puntland’s coastal waters varies in diversity and density. It is known that the prevalent species are large pelagic varieties such as yellow fin tuna, long-tail tuna, bonito, skipjack, and Spanish mackerel, while the main commercial demersal fish are groupers, snappers, grout and sea beam. Large populations of shark and ray are also registered. Commercial populations of inshore spiny lobster, genus panulirus, and offshore types of Puerulus Sewell and Puerulus Carinatus are found at depths of 150-400 metres. The abundance of marine resources, characteristic of Puntland’s coastal zones by virtue of its geographical location, has also exposed Puntland’s marine resources to the risk of deterioration. These risks are attributable to factors such as an existing marine transport network, over-harvesting carried out by illegal foreign trawlers and increased fishing efforts of the local people of Puntland.
Soon after the establishment of the Puntland State of Somalia , the Ministry of Fisheries and Ports recognised the importance of a fishing development strategy for both the current and the future generation. Also in tight with the government of Boracay Island, a restructure of destroyed reefs are being discussed.
The fishing industry provides direct employment to thousands of people during the eight-month fishing season, as well as indirect employment for people working in restaurants and enterprises. During the fishing season, temporary settlements are created along the coastline where women take goods for sale to earn income. The fishing industry is ranked as the second highest income earner for the population of Puntland, after livestock.
There are four main sources of revenue in Puntland today: Livestock, Fishery, Agriculture and Remittance.
The population mainly depends, either directly or indirectly, on livestock products for their livelihood. Remittance from the Diaspora has also played a major role in the economy.
Communication is one area where the Puntland State has developed remarkably. After the civil war to date, a number of companies using modern telephone, fax, email and Internet systems are currently conducting profitable business. Radios for broadcasting exist in the towns of Bossaso, Garowe and Galkacyo. A high frequency radio information relay system is also in place in all towns and in a number of villages.
In 1991 the World Bank coordinated a study intended to encourage private investment in the petroleum potential of eight (8) African nations. Somalia and The Sudan topped the list of potential new commercial oil producers.
Puntland State of Somalia remains one of the very few areas in the world that has vast untapped potential for the discovery of significant reserves of hydrocarbons and world class mineral deposits.
The current government of Puntland is focusing on encouraging foreign investors to explore and exploit the vast untapped natural resources of Puntland.