Mini grid solar power plant
The concession for DP World was accompanied by expectations of closer cooperation between Somaliland and the United Arab Emirates. The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, for example, provides financial and technical support for the transport corridor from Berbera to Ethiopia. It has also initiated social projects for the urban poor in Berbera, like building schools and providing green and affordable energy. It financed a 7MW solar power plant which was inaugurated in January 2021.

This was considered a significant step towards providing energy to poorer households and reducing Somaliland’s dependence on fossil fuels.

But immediately after the launch of the project, the Somaliland Ministry of Mines and Energy handed over the solar facility to Berbera Power House. The move further entrenched the company’s electricity monopoly in the city.

During the inauguration of the mini grid solar power plant, the finance minister proposed that electricity prices in Berbera would be reduced to US$0.1 per unit compared to US$0.6 per unit before the investment.

The interviews that we conducted with Berbera city residents in February and March 2023 revealed that electricity prices had not come down. We also found that the reliability of energy services had not improved.

It seems that the company lacks incentives and pressure from the government to improve its services and cut down energy prices. The company refused our requests for interviews.

Currently, a number of international organisations are exploring the potential for green energy in Somaliland and the wider Horn of Africa. These initiatives primarily aim to overcome environmental limits of the globally rising energy demand. Whether they will eventually benefit the population depend, among others, on how they are regulated and governed.

Abdiqadir A. Ismail, a researcher at the Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Hargeisa, contributed to this article.