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Published On: Sat, Oct 15th, 2016

Somaliland Energy Sector

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Ex-Director General of Somaliland Electricity Agency/ A.Y. M. JAMA,



In a country of 3.5 – 4Million people, Somaliland Electricity Agency (SEA) operates as an autonomous national body which has the overall mandate for the effective management and coordination of sector development, implement higher efficiency for sustainable growth, recommend and adopt applicable safety standards as appropriate and increase public access of quality electricity supply in the country. In the capital city of Hargeisa, the total power supply produced by the combined generators of the Agency (SEA) is currently  around (5-7MW), while the furthest reach of its power coverage in the city is no more than 14km radial distance from the power station premises.

Nevertheless one of the biggest challenges facing the Somaliland Electricity Agency (SEA) is to mobilize the indispensable resources (i.e. finance and technical know-how) to meet the soaring generation, transmission and distribution requirements which may involve considerable investment costs. It is therefore highly critical that the agency proactively take bold steps to evaluate all possible opportunities in an effort to ensure the timely expansion of power from both conventional and renewable generation sources to load centres and also facilitate distribution and electricity access at all consumption levels. Hence, the national strategy for the electricity sector seeks among others to expand power supply with the objective to attain:

  • Enhanced generation, transmission and distribution capacity through coupled with radical reduction of system losses.
  • Improved the provision of power supply in quantity and quality through the promotion of alternative energy paths.
  • Kindle sustained socio-economic growth rates and improved well-being of all Somaliland population as a result of increased availability and reliability of affordable electricity supply.
  • Increased overall electricity access rate. Lower tariffs for highest sustainable number of existing/new customer connections and remove heavy burden on household utility budgets.

Somaliland Electricity Agency (SEA) is also involved in a fierce competition battle with other 20-Independent Power Producers (IPPs) that provide service to different areas/zones of the country including Hargeisa, the capital city. In this view, due to the rapid population growth and bulging urbanization onslaught in the region inevitably propels an acute need for accessible electric utility nationwide. As a result, the power agency, as the national body entrusted with the responsibility to deliver efficient power supply services to the nation has to work more efficiently in order to respond effectively to the changing challenges of the growing demand for reliable and sustainable but also affordable energy. Thus the current SEA service coverage estimates is approx. 30% of the total energy needs at a unit charge price of USD 1/kWh whereas the entire rival organizations uniformly charge per unit at USD 1.20/kWh, or over. However, the estimated consumption breakdown in relation to Hargeisa residents indicates 70% of the total customer base as residential households; while 20% are business sector customers consisting of small and medium sized enterprises. The remaining 10% are attributed to be industrial end-users and others. If the dire power shortage challenges posed by the exponentially rising utility consumption needs are to be successfully satiated, it is extremely vital that Somaliland Electricity Agency develops an innovative strategy and approach to pursue on a precisely planned, structured and highly coordinated action to implement tailor-made programmes with strong preferences to thoroughly explore all possible options for renewable energy development.

SEA Current Generator Stock:

The Power supply industry still faces stiff challenges including unreliability due to erratic transmission network together with inadequate and poor distribution systems, perhaps a problem further compounded by inefficient generation capacity. Consequently, as shown below, the Somaliland Electricity Agency (SEA) current stock of generator sets with varied status and operational order that has to be viewed in the face of widening energy deficit gap at the national level as well as against the backdrop of continually increased demand for a reliable and affordable power supply in all the fast swelling urban areas.  Table 1- below indicates the particulars of the installed power generation capacity including make/model, capacity, age and current status.

Table 1: SEA Power Generators

No Gen-set Make/Model Capacity(KVA) QTY HRS Operat/Status
1 DEUTZ 1500KVA 01 40,000 30%-40% capacity
2 RUSTON 1000KVA 01 45,000 <30% capacity
3 CATERPILLAR 1500 KVA 01 35,000 30%-50% capacity
4 CATERPILLAR 1500 KVA 01 36,000 30%-50% capacity
5 PERKINS 1500 KVA 01 34,000 30%-40% capacity
6 Total Installed Capacity 5,500 KVA 05 154,000



Strategic Priorities


According to the Somaliland National Development Plan (NDP) with respect to the electricity sub-sector, the strategic priorities identified as implemented programmes specifically for the period 2011-2016 includes:

  • Expansion of power generation in Hargeisa and Berbera to meet demand
  • Utilization of Renewable energy sources– Wind, waves, geothermal, sun
  • Extension of electricity supply to all the regions of the country
  • Splitting of the agency into two companies – power generation and power distribution
  • Automation of the Billing system in order to provide better services to customers
  • Improvement in production and distribution efficiency of electricity supply
  • Enhancement of health and safety
  • Building the capacity of the Agency’s technical and administrative staff; and
  • Improvement of the infrastructure such as buildings and other critical facilities

Hargeisa Focus Priorities (Population of 1.2million)

Since the current generation and electricity supply levels are no match to meet the existing needs let alone the ever growing energy demands and evolving conditions, the national development plan suggests initially increasing the power generation capacity in Hargeisa to 10MW during the 5year plan 2011-2016.

Policy, Legal, and Institutional Reform

Similarly, in the course of the first NDP the Power Agency needs to implement:

  • Produce a master Plan for increasing power generation
  • Undertake reform in order to strengthen the sectoral, institutional and financial capacity
  • Develop a draft electricity act
  • Develop and enforce electricity regulations and guidelines
  • Strengthen health and safety rules
  • Improve customer service and maintaining relations
  • Split the agency into two companies – power generation and power distribution; and
  • Consolidate private power generating companies

SEA Projects envisaged in NDP

The following projects are accordingly expected to be implemented during the NDP period:

  • Construction of new power houses
  • Installation of new generator sets
  • Installation of switch-gears and modern transformers
  • Construction of distribution H.T. grid lines
  • Installation of a computerized billing system
  • Construction of maintenance workshops
  • Development and production of safety guidelines
  • Building the skill capacity of staff
  • Raising community awareness about electricity safety
  • Building the physical infrastructure of agency – offices, vehicles, equipment etc.

Challenges and Opportunities

The national development plan (NDP) reckons the below mentioned limitations as are major challenges critical to the overall development initiatives that must be adequately addressed to improve situation including:

  • Limited power generation capacity
  • Financial constraints
  • Inadequate billing system
  • High default payment rates
  • High Oil(Diesel) prices
  • High unit production cost
  • Lack of efficient grid
  • Low staff skill capacity(Technical and Managerial)


Likewise, there are tremendous opportunities both existing and potential including:

  • Existing customer base and strong market position
  • Public private partnership financing
  • Growing customer base
  • Power generation from abundant coal deposits, which is locally available
  • Power generation from renewable sources (Hargeisa is uniquely blessed with strong winds); and solar energy
  • Ample space at the Agency’s compound which can be utilized for further expansion

Capacity Assessment

In this aspect, strenuous situational analysis entailing systematic review of the main pillars that now underpin the SEA structures have been duly carried out with the aim to categorically establish actual position, status and the sort impeding circumstances that now surrounds it in turn provided essential guidance in the crucial search for effective solutions that may ultimately unleash a healthy and sustainable growth levels sought and enhanced development levels of a successful and profitable national power agency, including:

  1. Develop enhanced electricity generation capacity in Somaliland: The entire power generation in the country is now estimated at approximately 77Mw of which about 5,750 kW of installed total generation capacity is produced by the Somaliland Electricity Agency.   Estimates are based on the sum installed generation capacity including the 20 privately owned power companies.
  2. Establish efficient electricity transmission and distribution systems: An adequate national grid that connects major load centers to various power sources including private electricity companies does not exist in Somaliland. Transmitting power is presently delivered on 15kV lines from the power station to a particular load area through step-down transformers of 15kV/380V. Similarly the power distribution is commonly delivered over low voltage –380/220V. In a capacity deficient scenario as in this case, generators typically function in a radial pattern due to the lack of interconnectedness and efficient grid systems thus resulting in woefully low reliability, high operational costs, frequent power failures and under-utilization during off-peak together with inability to dispense overloads at peak hours.  On the other hand, running a generator in parallel with separate generators on a network, actually needs a synchronization capability on each generator and as well as system stability analysis.
  • Install effective distribution networks: Basic distribution networks used now often carry 380V lines on single core or twin PVC insulated cables which are typically hang over thin wooden/metal poles are hazardously unsafe and incompetent to provide standard quality power supply as needed.

SEA-Shorter-term Plans

The main goal of SEA is to implement increased power generation and expanded electricity supply in the shortest possible period in conjunction with workforce development to sustain the associated growth and development accomplishments. Thus the focus of the SEA’s incipient work is at present wholly directed to:

  • Improve electricity transmission and distribution systems through planning a network, use standard procedures and recommended cables to reduce losses, and better quality of power supply.
  • Increase generation capacity by improving the overall state of existing SEA power generation output capacity, installing new array of modern Gensets a/o diverse generation options that must be interlinked, and synchronized with existing generators for optimum productivity.
  • develop the numbers and competent skills diversity of SEA staff  in particular and energy sector personnel in general, to cater for the expanded network and for the economic maintenance of effective operations and enhanced efficiency of the overall power infrastructural systems.

Capacity Building Needs


    1. Establish planning unit/team to work on primary area plans for proper development of nationwide electricity infrastructure that could later be easily replicated and expanded to all regions.
    2. Establish an independent installation inspectorate to ensure the quality and safety standards of energy generation, transmission, distribution and customer service/installation procedures.
    3. Establish regulatory body to enforce relevant stipulations accordingly as well as oversee commercial arrangements, public tariffs, and easement issues.
    4. Develop adequate admin processes, deploy sector related IT systems and management procedures, standard operational policies, streamline organisational structures for higher competitive advantages in line with the evolving needs/situations, effective training and career development provisions.

Somaliland’s Renewable Energy Resources (Solar and Wind)

The task of generating, transmitting and distributing electricity in Somaliland is enormous and while Somaliland has bounteous energy resources particularly wind, solar, and fossil fuels however this potential is mostly under-exploited at present. Somaliland’s consumption tariff of between USD 1.00 and $1.20 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) makes it one of the highest in the world.

The estimated installed capacity in Somaliland is 77 megawatts (MW) of which only 44% of it is actually realized due poor servicing, inefficient production and aging generators. Typical power losses are also estimated at between 25% and 40%, a figure that is much higher than the 10-12% international target limits.

The occurrence of abundant renewable energy sources in Somaliland is well documented. Despite of all its potential has yet to be effectively harnessed for useful energy production objectives. Somaliland’s annual sunshine is approximately 3,000 hours of clear and consistent irradiation, with a minimum of 8 to 8.5 hours of sunshine hours per day, thus the vast potential of solar energy, estimated by the Somaliland Ministry of Mining and Energy is as much as 5.8 to 6.0 kWh/m2/day. Along the coastal areas, wind speeds easily exceed 7-9 meters per second. The solar energy resource in Somaliland is almost uniform with only minor seasonal variations.

Ahmed yasin Mohamed Jama

Ex-Director General of Somaliland Electricity Agency



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  1. Dear Sir,
    I am a Kenyan national and am in the process of mobilizing a kind of international consortium of investors with a view to teaming up on a project to generate RENEWABLE ENERGY(SOLAR/WIND) in your country.I have just briefly read your article on the Energy sector in your beautiful country.

    I have not visited your country but I have a friend who has told me how potential your country is for investment.

    What advice would you give me(whether encouraging or discouraging)?

    I thank you in advance and eagerly look forward to hearing from you.
    With best regards from,

    MOHAMMED H> KARUGU—–Tel:+254 736 941 601

    • Osman ibrahim says:

      Hello Mohamed,
      I’m a Canadian citizen of Somalilander origin. I live and work in Ottawa, Canada. I’m an investor myself and acquired breadth wealth of knowlege in the green energy projects. I was in Somaliland last summer 2016, chiefly to look at if that’re sufficient demands in somalind. My confidence in terms of investing in has increased substantially. I’m seeking willing investors like yourself whom would commit to come on board for a joint venture in renewal energy projects in Somaliland. Please contact me if interesyed.

      Osman Ibrahim @ 613 400 7839.
      My work email:

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