Border oil dispute with Somalia can be solved with a deal

The two nations could partner in the oil drilling to avoid unnecessary fights

In Summary

• The neighbouring countries don't have to fight after depending on each other for decades. 

• Kenya had not exploited the deposits before Somalia showed interest. 

Displaced Somalis receive food from the Turkish Red Crescent in a camp in Mogadishu on May 23
NEIGHBOURS, NOT BY CHOICE: Displaced Somalis receive food from the Turkish Red Crescent in a camp in Mogadishu on May 23

Recently, the Somalian Parliament is said to have passed a law allowing it to embark on oil exploration along the disputed maritime border with Kenya. This has raised Kenya’s suspicion that Somalia will renege on a deal not to interfere with the contested maritime boundary.

However, Kenya has yet to assure us that it has any plans of exploiting the said vast offshore gas and oil deposits. Or is it going to continue behaving like the proverbial dog in a manger? It is almost 30 years since Somalia disintegrated as a state, after the ouster of its former ruler, Siad Barre.

Kenya, as its immediate neighbour, had to welcome and offered political asylum to millions of refugees from that country, who are still here till now. Had Kenya been enterprising enough, should it have started exploiting the gas and oil and used the proceeds to care for the refugees? Nobody would have complained or prevented Kenya from doing that.


But unfortunately, like the proverbial ostrich, we decided to bury our head in the sand, dreaming of how we are an island of peace with the unmatched economy, amidst strife-torn neighbours. It is until now, that Somalia, which is now rising from the ashes of civil war and is beginning to exploit the natural resources within her borders, that we have awoken.

For now, Somalia is just like a pugilist who has been knocked down and is trying to stand up. Boxing rules prohibit his opponent from punching him until he is firmly on his feet. It is, therefore, embarrassing for Kenya to throw tantrums at Somalia. Kenya should then embark on drilling for the commodity on her side of the maritime boundary, acceptable to Somalia.

Alternatively, they could partner as neighbours who have depended on each other for years.