Who's in charge of Somaliland's skies, which nation is rolling in Grasse, and who's going to get Iran's top job?
South Korean firm Samsung is investing in solar powered mobile dispensaries across Africa. The 7m-long trucks contain dental, ear and eye clinics and a mini laboratory for analysing blood samples.
Plane: 737-300 (occasionally BAE-146)
Airline: Daallo Airlines
Frequency: Twice weekly
Daallo Airlines is a Djiboutian carrier working hard to become a player in its region. It still has some way to go but in recent years it has started using newer aircraft and streamlined operations. Central to that has been its focus on Somaliland, the breakaway province and de facto nation separated from Somalia since 1991, the same year that Daallo began operations.
This is an airline that barely had an electronic ticketing system in place a few years ago. In the early years Daallo cobbled together an antique Soviet fleet of Ilyushin-18s and Antonov-24s, which irregularly plied the skies over the Horn of Africa. In 2007, Istithmar World Aviation Holdings of Dubai took control of the airline, providing a much-needed injection of cash and organisation.
While its base is in Djibouti and its executive team in the uae, the most significant piece of Daallo Airlines’ route map is Somaliland. Unlike neighbouring Somalia the nation has enjoyed a mostly peaceful recent history, and the growth potential in this untapped market is enormous. Nearly all flights between Djibouti and Dubai fly via Somaliland, with service through the capital Hargeisa as well as Berbera.
A service to Burao has been announced for this year. Cargo capacity in and out of Somaliland is in particularly high demand and Daallo effectively owns the market. A former consultant from the US who was called in to help steer the airline into better health says, “Their target market is traders, hajj traffic, students, even foreign military forces in Djibouti. They’ve got a real niche figured out.”
While piracy in the Gulf of Aden is coming under control, on the other side of Africa it cost the region an estimated $2bn last year.
But West African nations are looking to one of its own, Cameroon, as a case study to learn from. Its efforts to curb the trade, including its bilateral partnerships with its southern African neighbours and its Rapid Intervention Battalions, will be analysed at a maritime security meeting in Lagos next month. Discussions will also look at US Africa Command’s initiatives to tackle piracy in the crisis and a new code of conduct for the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) that prioritises sharing information, rights to prosecute pirates and treatment for victims.
Date: 14 June
Candidates: Outgoing president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, stepping down after serving a maximum two terms, is backing his former chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie. The reformists who ran in 2009, Mir-Hossen Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, are still under house arrest. The best advice is to bet heavily on whichever candidate ends up gaining the endorsement of thunderbolt-hurler-in-chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Issues: The sanctions aimed at deterring Iran’s nuclear ambitions are biting hard: Iranians are becoming poorer. The violence that followed the 2009 elections suggests that many of them would rather not live in a grim, theocratic tyranny. The increasing hostility being directed towards Ahmedinejad by the Ayatollahs who once championed him suggests that the grim, theocratic tyrants have no plans to go anywhere.
Monocle comment: The ancient adage that it’s not the people who vote that count but the people who count the votes, is more applicable to Iran than most places.
On the northern edge of Somalia are the Golis Mountains, watered by mist clouds rolling in from the Gulf of Aden. On their seaward slope, stumpy, wizened Boswellia trees (right) bleed aromatic resin from gashes cut into the bark by tappers whose job is ordained by the clan elders.
Once harvested the gooey nuggets of frankincense are thrown into sacks and carried down the slopes by donkey and camel to be hand-sorted for export. Frankincense has long been prized for use in Christian ceremonies – according to the Bible it was among the gifts deemed worthy of honouring the birth of the son of God himself – but this ancient industry has a premium contemporary use too.
“The main market for us is in southern France, in Grasse,” says Guelleh Osman Guelleh, who runs Beyomol Natural Gums, a major Hargeisa-based exporter. “Ninety per cent of what we sell goes there to be used in perfumes”.