“Kenya, Somalia Border Points Re-Opening?! What Does This Imply?”

It was a perplexing day for Kenya and Somalia as they declared the re-opening of three border points that have been shut down for the last ten years due to the threatening insecurity posed by terrorist group Al Shabaab. While the move to open the borders once again is expected to increase trade and boost the movement of people between the two countries, it comes with a hefty cost of security risks. The agreement reached between Kenya and Somalia will only be effective after the approval of Ethiopia and the United Kingdom- both of which have been involved in the negotiations. The three border points, namely Mandera/Belet Hawo (Belethawa), Liboi-Harhar/Dhobley, and Kiunga/Ras Kamboni, have been shut down since 2011 during the administration of the late President Mwai Kibaki after severe attacks from the terrorist group, Al Shabaab. The closure of these borders negatively impacted trade between both the countries as export numbers dipped from Sh19.7 billion to Sh11.8 billion in between 2017 and 2019, according to official statistics from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. While the closure was aimed at handling the smuggling hazard, analysts believe that the same has led to illegal flows of people, contraband and weapons across the borders. However, the re-opening of the borders might lead to an increase in smuggling cases if not structured well. The announcement also comes in light of the maritime difference that Kenya and Somalia have yet to settle, after the Hague-based International Court of Justice ruled in favor of Somalia, while Kenya did not accept the verdict. With continued uncertainty, it remains a question if the benefits from increased trade and movement of people outweighs the risks of insecurity.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept