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A Vision for Innovation in Berbera, Somaliland

A charter city operated via a public-private partnership at the Port of Berbera, Somaliland will substantially increase the positive impacts of Somaliland’s already effective national development strategy.

The city of Berbera, Somaliland has some of the greatest growth potential in the Horn of Africa region. Situated in a strategic location with both sea access and close proximity to the fast-growing economies of the region. Somaliland and Berbera in particular are ready to take steps to dramatically increase their regional significance. Somaliland’s government has already astutely pursued its advantages, but the positive outcomes that Somaliland has already experienced can be greatly increased by adopting the innovative governance system offered by the charter cities model.

Somaliland’s unique history and location make it a prime candidate to employ new solutions to age-old problems and to show the world that it cannot only seize opportunities but can also deliver on bold and innovative models of economic development for its people. Somaliland can both improve its development outcomes and the lives of its people, and show the world that it is a leader in forward-thinking governance by establishing a charter city near the Port of Berbera. By following the models laid out by the four “proto-charter cities” of Dubai, Singapore, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong, Somaliland can use Berbera to accomplish two desirable outcomes: (1) Berbera can dramatically grow Somaliland’s economy by becoming the best place to do business in the Horn of Africa; and (2) Berbera can serve as a governance laboratory that Somaliland can use to create successful and innovative institutions that can then be introduced to other parts of the country, which will help accelerate Somaliland’s economic development over the next 30 years or more.

Recommendations:

1. Somaliland’s government should explore the economic advantages of creating a charter city structure for Berbera, evaluate whether this would be suitable in the local context, and engage with local stakeholders to assess the feasibility of this proposal.

2. Somaliland’s government should create a comprehensive economic development strategy for Berbera and the wider Berbera Corridor, including the possibility of establishing a charter city in Berbera.

3. Should Somaliland choose to pursue the charter city option, the next steps are to start building a political coalition that advances the charter city project, assemble stakeholders to delineate the scope of potential reforms in more detail, and contact the Charter Cities Institute for assistance.

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