Somaliland247's Blog

January 25, 2012

The joys of investing in Somaliland


The joys of investing in Somaliland

Mr Mohammed Yusef says potential profits are higher in Somaliland than London

“How are you going to make money in a country that doesn’t even exist?” That was probably the question that many people had at the back of their minds when Mohammed Yusef told them he would invest in Somaliland.

Mohammed Yusef

  • Age: 60
  • First business venture: buying and selling a film library
  • Trained as a solicitor
  • Practiced as a commercial lawyer before founding his own law practice in London
  • Founded Invicta Capital in 1999
  • His Somaliland business is handled through a company called Prime Resources
  • Prime has a staff of nine people in Hargeisa

Others perhaps did not even know Somaliland had declared independence from Somalia in 1991 and that, in spite of not having been recognised internationally, it does have – unlike Somalia – a working political system and a strong business sector.

Mr Yusef of course knew. Although he now manages a very successful investment firm in the United Kingdom, Invicta Capital Limited, he has always kept in touch with the land where he was born six decades ago, while it still was a British protectorate.

“If what my parents say is true, I always had a mentality for trade, for business, and it’s not inconsistent with the family history because the family originated from a fishing village on the Gulf of Aden,” he told the BBC’s series African Dream.

“My great-grandfather was one of those people that would trade with Aden.”

Mr Yusef was educated in the UK where he trained as a solicitor and practiced as a commercial lawyer before starting his own law practice specializing in commercial law, copyright and media law in London.

In 1999 he founded Invicta, a private equity firm providing finance for the media, commercial property and renewable energy sectors which, according to its website, has raised over £1.4bn ($2.3bn) of investment capital.

Minding the gap

His Somaliland business is handled through a company called Prime Resources which has a staff of nine people in Hargeisa, the capital.

According to him, the firm has invested in mining, and oil and gas exploration and is about to embark on a $40m exploration programme. It is also evaluating business opportunities in Somalia in the agricultural and property sectors.

“When I first started looking at investment in Somaliland even my professional colleagues would say: ‘You’re mad. This doesn’t make any sense’,” he remembers.

“Not only did they confuse Somaliland with Somalia but it does have the problem of being an unrecognised country,” he told the BBC’s Mary Harper.

“But actually nobody ever made money from following the herd and the most money is often to be made where there is a mismatch between what people perceive to be the place and the reality of what it is, and Somaliland is exactly in those kinds of circumstances where there is a huge gap between the reality and the perception.”

“So actually there is a method to my madness and it isn’t inconsistent with the basic principles of business: Go find yourself a situation that nobody else has spotted and be prepared to hang on in there while everybody else catches up.”

“There is no inconsistency between what we look for when we invest in an opportunity here [in London] and what we look for over there, except that the potential rewards in Somaliland are far greater, ironically.”

The Hollywood connection

Mr Yusef’s first business venture was buying and selling a film library.

“I was lucky in that I knew who my buyer was going to be, so it was one of those crazy situations where I knew I could buy for X and sell for Y,” he said.

“In many ways, it’s the worst first lesson to have in business because you run away with the idea that business is actually quite easy.”

However, this experience was probably helpful to him when, later, he decided to specialise in structured film financing.

Invicta has been involved in the financial side of many successful film projects, including Wallace & Grommit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Da Vinci Code and James Bond’s Casino Royale.

Although now he manages big money, Mr Yusef says that he started with very little.

“I had enough capital to pay the rent of an office for six months. I think it was enough to pay the secretary and assistant. That was it.

“But it didn’t take much. It never takes much. Not having money is never really the obstacle, it’s the excuse.”

‘Fascinating people’

Mr Yusef says that for him one of the most exciting things about his business is meeting people.

“You meet fantastic people, even the ones you don’t like. They’re fascinating”.

He believes that it is often easier to get to know others in stressful situations because they cannot “keep their pretences up for very long”.

He also takes delight in the intellectual challenges offered by his job.

“Every situation is different from the last. And the mistake often made is to assume ‘Oh, I know how that story is going to end’. So there’s always that tension – positive stress is what I call it – that keeps one going,” he says.

“After a while, it may sound a bit glib to say this, the money motive isn’t the main driver. Once you’ve reached a certain level of security – you’ve paid the mortgage if you still had one and taken care of the basics of life, and you can afford one or two luxuries – people who accumulate businesses and business interests just to make more money are a little bit unwell, I think.

“The biggest driver for people in business, if you look at it, is the creative drive, to create something from nothing and step back and say: ‘That was nothing then, look at it now’. I’m sure that’s the key motivator for most people who are successful in business.”

And what advice would he give to someone who wants to start in business?

“Control your fear and never give up because you will fail more than you succeed, and I think that’s the thing that my father taught me more than anything else, and that’s that ultimately you will prevail if you take your losses as well as your successes and learn from the losses. We learn nothing from success and everything from failure.

“I think the thing that separates the natural businessman and, let’s say, a business consultant, is the tenacity that is required. Many people give up on their dreams and their ideas faster than they should, and even when they do fail, they should figure out why they failed and then look for the next opportunity.”

African Dream is broadcast on the BBC Network Africa programme every Monday morning.

BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-16603523

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January 10, 2012

VIDEO: Turkish TRT TV Report on Somaliland

Filed under: NEWS — somaliland247 @ 9:48 pm
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Turkish TRT TV Report on Somaliland

January 8, 2012

VIDEO:Madaxweynaha Somaliland Siilaanyo Oo Qaabilay Orod yahankii Caanka ahaa ee Cabdi Bile Cabdi


VIDEO:Madaxweynaha Somaliland Siilaanyo Oo Qaabilay Orod yahankii Caanka ahaa ee Cabdi Bile Cabdi

January 5, 2012

Dualeh was always ready for call from Somaliland


Dualeh was always ready for call from Somaliland

 

HUSSEIN Abdi Dualeh is Minister of Mining, Energy & Water Resources for the Republic of Somaliland

 

Hussein Abdi Dualeh’s determination and passion for the oil industry led to homecoming as a government minister

HUSSEIN Abdi Dualeh is Minister of Mining, Energy & Water Resources for the breakaway Republic of Somaliland in the Horn of Africa, a territory exactly the same as the former British Protectorate of Somaliland, but which remains unrecognised by the international community. BARRY MORGAN London.

Dualeh was born under a tree in the Saraar region of central Somaliland, and was only five when his father upped sticks and moved the family to Aden in what was then South Yemen in the Arabian peninsula.

After returning for secondary education at the reputable SOS Sheikh International School, Dualeh himself got itchy feet and set off alone for Abu Dhabi, where he got a job selling lubricants and gasoline to bulk buyers for the state-owned oil company Adnoc.

It was here that his passion for the oil business grew, doing with a determination to prepare himself for a serious role in the industry.

This idea drove him in 1979 to the University of Oklahoma, where he completed a petroleum engineering degree, with a view to building a career back in the Middle East.

However, prompt job offers from several majors upon graduation persuaded him to stay on in the US and he ended up employed by Chevron in Los Angeles.

He pushed water out of old mature oilfields in California and later moved to work offshore by the late 1980s.

“And all this time I was toiling pro bono for successive governments back home, advising Hargeisa (the capital of Somaliland) on oil and gas affairs, scrutinising contracts and purchase agreements and encouraging companies to invest in Somaliland.”

During that time, Dualeh was getting deeply involved in the turbulent politics of his homeland, a once free state with a stable polity, which asserts sovereign independence from the rump of the Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu.

He joined the opposition Kulmiye Party — Kulmiye means the one who brings the people together — and he rose to become chairman of the party’s North American chapter, catching the eye of the party’s leader, now President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo.

By this time in 1990 Dualeh had married and was holding down a top downstream job as operations manager with California’s Metropolitan Transport Authority, ensuring compressed natural gas supplies for the fleets and developing new business.

His Somali wife and three children were happy and thriving in the golden state.

“Then while visiting Hargeisa in July 2010 I met Silanyo face to face and he told me he had other plans for me and that I should come home. I had always dreamed of coming back to Somaliland and now, look, I’m sitting here as minister.”

His children are in their midteens and visit Hargeisa frequently.

“They’re proud of my decision to return and improve conditions in the country. They encourage me and they’re also longing to be part of the adventure… I must say, their reaction was the turning point in my story.”

He is optimistic about his life and the future. “It’s all about waking up in the morning and wanting to make things happen.”

He has little patience for majors claiming force majeure and even less for briefcase outfits showing no obvious commitment — he wants action.

“I’ve just been to China to discuss Hong Kong-based PetroTrans installing a gas pipeline from Ethiopia to our port at Berbera, along with liquefied natural gas export trains, and I think it’s a very good idea.

“We have a peaceful country, an open door policy and demand contract sanctity just as we offer contract security.”

Commenting on overtures from New York-based financier and equity venture company Jarch Capital, run by Philippe Heilberg — the company specialising in energy deals with nonsovereigns, which won sweeping exploration and production rights to the entirety of nearby South Sudan — Dualeh says they are still knocking on the door.

“Heilberg tried to do a deal but it didn’t go well. He was offered a huge slice but wanted the whole country, so we just parted ways without agreement.”

At the other end of the spectrum, Dualeh says “a lot of oddball ‘Joe Blow’ companies pass through Hargeisa, but I don’t pay them any attention — we’re looking for serious technical and financial competence to get real exploration restarted”

Sources: upstreamonline

January 4, 2012

Somaliland:Rebuilding shattered lives, one home at a time


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Somaliland:Rebuilding shattered lives, one home at a time

Burao (Burco),Togdheer Somaliland

Hoda Dahir and Christian Jepsen (04.01.2012)
In Somaliland, NRC assists displaced people to build their own homes. After years in refugee camps in Ethiopia, young Mohamed can now witness how piles of bricks evolve into a new, permanent home for his family.

By The string of banging hammers is shadowed by mesmerizing chants of Somali poetry and mischievous jokes. “Hey! You young ones, we need more water, and hurry. Faster, faster!” shouts a middle aged man bent over his shovel while mixing the cement and sand into a thick paste. A roar of laughter rises from the skeletons of houses growing from the dusty, red soil.

A returnee building his own home in Burao, Somaliland, supported by NRC. Photo: NRC/Christian Jepsen

The sun is at its peak, yet the men laying the bricks seem undeterred by the merciless rays. They are all in sync with the tasks at hand and have one goal in mind – to complete the houses as soon as possible for their families here at the Aden Suleiman settlement in the eastern part of Somaliland

15-year-old Mohamed is eager to learn the craftsmanship of the masons and carpenters working at the construction site. Mohamed’s young curious eyes follow the mason’s matriculate adjustments to ensure that the large cement and mud bricks are placed in exact alignment with each other.

Photo: NRC/Christian Jepsen

“I am proud of the fact that all the workers and many of the masons and carpenters here are from our own community, meaning we are actually constructing our own houses,” says Mohamed with a proud smile as he peeks into the half-finished structure. “This will be my family’s first ever house made from bricks. We cannot wait to move into our new house and settle in.”

At the onset of the civil war in Somalia in the early 1990s, Mohammed’s family migrated to Ethiopia where they stayed in a refugee camp. After ten years in Ethiopia, they moved back to Somaliland, assisted by the United Nation Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) resettlement program. Having lost his father, Mohamed currently lives with his mother and six siblings in a cluttered, tiny nomadic Somali house – a so called buul – alongside dozens of other families in similar housings.

Photo: NRC/Christian Jepsen

Each of the 50 houses in this project consists of two rooms, each measuring 4 x 3.5 meters and an adjacent veranda. NRC is providing the design, tools, materials and training for the locally recruited labourers, many from the displaced communities and others the host community. The local Burao government has donated the land for the houses that will benefit a total of 350 people. In many other similar projects, NRC is providing temporary shelter solutions with materials such as corrugated iron sheeting. But for this particular project, NRC has been able to secure the necessary land and funding for a better and longer lasting solution.

The recipient community has been heavily involved in many aspects of the project. Dozens of men from the Aden Suleiman settlement have volunteered to work on the construction site, sharing the work load amongst themselves according to needs and skills.

The NRC assisted shelter project funded by the Japanese government through UNHCR. Photo: NRC/Christian Jepsen

The local Somaliland government authorities have provided sand, water, some unskilled labourers and security for the materials on site; equivalent of a total of USD 600,- per shelter. This contribution allowed NRC to increase the shelter with an additional room. It is the first time that the Somaliland authorities have provided direct financial support to a shelter project.

Looking at his family’s cluttered, ramshackle house made of sticks and plastic sheets, Mohamed is looking forward to improved living conditions, popping up only 20 metres from his family’s buul. “These are real houses that will provide security and stability for our families for many years to come”, Mohamed concludes.

The NRC assisted shelter project in the Aden Suleiman settlement is funded by the Japanese government through UNHCR. Other project components are tracking of displacement and stockpiling of shelter materials for use in case of future emergencies due to drought, flooding or conflict. Mohamed’s house and the other project activities were scheduled to be completed during December 2011.

Norwegian Refugee Council: http://www.nrc.no/

Video| Somaliland: Sheikh Technical Veterinary School – Terra Nuova


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Video| Somaliland: Sheikh Technical Veterinary School – Terra Nuova

Sheikh Technical Veterinary School and Reference Centre (STVS) is a regional institution located in Sheikh, in the highlands of the Sahil region (Somaliland). Its aim is to provide pastoralists in the Region of the Horn of Africa with better veterinary services. STVS began as a project in 2002 with international funding from (European Union, Danish Government, Italian Cooperation) implemented by Terra Nuova, under the auspices of African Union, Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources. Now, a well-established tertiary education Institution, it operates a fullyfledged regime with modern academic facilities within a state-of-the-art socially interactive environment. Affiliated to Makerere University (Uganda), STVS has built strong institutional and academic links with peer institutions of higher learning both within the region and at international level. The School is currently in the process of being adopted by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) as one of its regional institutions.

January 3, 2012

Business in Somaliland – Challenges and Opportunities


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Business in Somaliland – Challenges and Opportunities

On the evening of Thursday 19th January 2012 an event is being held at 55 Tufton Street,London SW1P 3Q by kind permission of the Africa Research Institute http://www.africaresearchinstitute.org/index.php entitled: Business in Somaliland – Challenges and Opportunities. The co-organisers of this occasion are the Horn of Africa Business Association (HABA) and Pride of Somaliland (a not for profit organisation that seeks to celebrate the achievements of Somalilanders wherever they reside).
This event will comprise of three brief presentations by prominent individuals connected with Somaliland and the Horn representing a range of sectors including entrepreneurship, education/training and livestock (we are pleased to say that all three panel members are Somalilanders or hail from the Horn).

The panellists are:
Zeinab Mohamed – Entrepreneur
Abdi Yusuf – FFOP (http://ffop.co.uk/)
Zeremariam Fre – PENHA (http://www.penhanetwork.org)
Other prominent figures from fields such as oil and gas and private equity will also be present. There will be ample scope for questions and answers from the audience as well as an opportunity for further discussion and networking. The event will begin at 7.15 pm and last until 9.00 pm. Places are at a premium, so to book a place e-mail: info@ha-ba.com

Horn of Africa Business Association (HABA) : http://ha-ba.com/

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