No foreign government recognises Somaliland's sovereignty, even though it fulfils the requirements for statehood, including the hosting of regular free and fair elections, the capacity to defend itself, and the issuing of its own passports and currency. It faces many economic challenges, but these are slowly being addressed, including expanding its port capacities, building a reliable electricity grid not dependent on diesel, and diversifying the economy.
"You see," says President Muse Bihi Abdi, pointing to an area to the east on the giant map of Somaliland covering the one wall of the presidential briefing room in Hargeisa, "in this area, clan members think 'I have a gun, I am the government'," explaining why the area is spotted with Al-Shabaab fighters and his government continues to battle to establish governance.
This has echoes in the observation of the 19th century traveller Richard Burton of the Somali that "every man his own sultan".
The restive east notwithstanding, a great deal has been achieved by the hitherto unrecognised Republic of Somaliland since its reproclamation of independence in 1991.
Re-proclamation as, three decades before, in June 1960, Somaliland gained its independence from its colonial master, Britain, before making an ill-fated decision to join former...