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The Horn of Africa’s Emerging Port Infrastructures and their Impact

The port city of Bosaso, located at the north-eastern corner of Somalia, provides a striking example of the interlinkage between security and infrastructure. The city benefited from the civil war that ravaged the southern parts of Somalia in the 1990s and 2000s. It developed into a booming trade centre. But increased violence in Bosaso has negatively affected international trade in the last decade. Bosaso is not able to compete with the much larger multi-purpose ports in Berbera and Mogadishu. The two ports are fitted with container terminals and furnished with modern equipment. Bosaso, instead, has had a crucial position in a more informal overseas trade. The ongoing transformation of global supply chains, with circulation increasingly relying on cranes and containers, detaches Bosaso from important trade networks. The modernisation of the port is critical for Puntland. An upgraded port will ensure Puntland keeps a significant position within the fragmented political landscape of Somalia. It will also prevent traders from looking for alternative outlets. Multiple challenges, among them security considerations, lie ahead. The relations between Puntland and the government in Mogadishu, as well as disagreements within the Puntland leadership, are crucial. In short, Bosaso is at a crossroads and faces a defining moment for its political and economic future.