Governing economic hubs and flows in Somali East Africa

Start date
January 1, 2014
End date
December 31, 2019
Project code
Total grant
Contact person
Tobias Hagmann

This research and capacity-building project contributes to a better understanding of key economic and political processes that have shaped state formation in the Somali territories since 1991. The project wants to explain how the daily management of market centers and commodities contributes to state-building in Somaliland, Puntland, the Somali region of┬┤Ethiopia and the Somali parts of Kenya. Thereby the project seeks to contribute to international debates and policy-development about fragile states and post-conflict statebuilding.
Our researchers study 1) how trade and transport operators manage select
commodities in situations of weak statehood, 2) how trading and transport of these commodities effect security, revenue and regulation, and 3) how these processes produce different types of authority. We study and compare how Somalis trade and transport different commodities in three transnational economic corridors. Livestock and consumer goods represent the bulk of the commodities sold in these three corridors. The governance of markets and transport hubs is essential for local livelihoods and efforts to stabilize the region from below. The recent history of these three trade routes provides insights into processes of state formation and erosion in the region. We are particularly interested in how the daily governance of trade and transport effects the security, revenue and regulation of local administrations and communities. The project is implemented by a consortium of Danish and East African academic institutions that seek to strengthen qualitative social science research capacities in the Somali territories where higher education and scholarly research crumbled as a result of civil war.


Midterm report 2016

GOVSEA consortium was reorganized and strengthened after the University of Nairobi and the Forum for Social Studies in Ethiopia joined us. They host 2 doctoral students as well as Ethiopian senior researchers. Danish researchers conducted a total of 19 months of fieldwork in Puntland, Kenya and Somaliland, producing new data on urban economic development, trade networks, corridor development, and local politics. Southern research partners are set for fieldwork and continued data-collection in 2017. First project publications appeared in the form of academic articles, working papers, and a well-visited blog. GOVSEA organized the 1st ever conference panel on the Somali economy at a major African studies conference. Dissemination events held in Roskilde, Hargeisa, Copenhagen and Nairobi. Capacity-building activities continue and will intensify in the second half of the project as co-authored publications and joint data analysis take center stage.