With virtually the entire east coast of Africa is found to contain hydrocarbon deposits, the tiny Puntland, which is a nation and yet not a nation, is no exception. Its President Abdirahman Mohamed Mohamud Farolez on Wednesday held talks in New Delhi on the recent find in Puntland of large quantity of oil.
He invited Indian companies to participate in the exploration and sought New Delhi's cooperation for charting out exploration blocks and training Somalis in the petroleum sector.
The Puntland region is unique — it seeks unity of the Somali people and adheres to a federal system of government unlike the secessionist region of Somaliland to its west. Puntland is not trying to obtain international recognition as a separate nation.
The visit was not due to normal diplomatic exertions. During Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed's participation in the international conference on Somalia in London in February, he met the Transitional Federal Government leadership, Presidents of Puntland and Gulmudug and representatives of other groups. During the meeting, Mr. Farolez expressed his desire to visit India. An invitation was duly extended. Mr. Farolez's official engagements included calls on Mr. Ahamed and Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas R.P.N. Singh, during which he was told that India would favourably consider the proposal for gas exploration and training.
With Mr. Ahamed, the President also sought Indian assistance to train his people in the fisheries sector, education, training, small and medium-scale enterprises and issues related to piracy.
Facing the twin scourges of piracy and terrorism, Puntland has been able to eradicate piracy activities from key coastal towns, including the former piracy hub of Eyl. The government has deployed anti-piracy forces (the Puntland Maritime Police Force) at Eyl and plans to send the force to other coastal towns. In 2010, Puntland Parliament passed Somalia's first-ever anti-piracy law. Speaking at a public engagement on Tuesday, Mr. Farolez said the Indian assistance was vital to ensure alternative likelihood for coastal communities affected by piracy and illegal fishing and reviving fishing activity that had been disrupted. “ We believe assistance and working partnership between Puntland institutions and the international community, particularly the Indian Ocean region, will be an efficient option to finally defeat piracy.”