It is not in the best interest of the Somalia people to rush to oil exploration and awarding exploration license to predatory oil corporations that exploit the vulnerability of weak and failed states like Somalia. Somalia could be classic case study of how oil and other natural resource could be curse and source of long term instability and deadly conflict.
When the current administration came to power in February 2017 they claimed that fighting corruption, creating transparent process and building government institutions are their first priority. According to Transparency International’s 2018 Corruption Perception Index, Somalia is considered as the world’s most corrupt country. They tried to sabotage those who criticize them, including journalists and opposition groups.
It is also important to mention the legitimate concerns expressed by the chair of National Resource Committee in the Somalia’s upper house in early February this year, where he highlighted the lack of administrative capacity as well as legal regulatory framework needed to undertake such an enormous project. A former Somali government official that I interviewed in 2014 told me that oil companies are so desperate to get exploration license that they use both stick and carrot. If they don’t receive the attention they need they use money to expedite the relationship. However, if the money doesn’t do the trick they threaten you that they will talk to regional governments.
It seems that Kenya wanted this diplomatic tension to pressure Somalia leaders to come to the negotiation table where the two countries could find bilateral agreement on this issue. In other words, Kenya never wanted a legal solution and instead they have been trying to take advantage of Somalia’s week state institutions. They tried to prevent Somalia government to refer this case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) because they knew that they could not win this case through legal means. They even tried to use a memorandum of “understanding” singed by the two countries as if this memorandum is legally binding and it prevents Somalia government to choose International Court of Justice.
The solution is very simple and its good for both countries and it is also in the best interest of Somali people. Let’s wait the court to give its verdict and until that time Somali federal government must create political, institutional and regulatory capacity to turn what many political economists consider “resource curse” into factor endowment and source of human development.