Somalia’s new ambassador to Kenya arrives to full in-tray in Nairobi

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  • In appointing Abdulle, Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, is banking on a man who has lived and worked in Nairobi for the past decade.
  • Abdulle will be out to ensure his country benefits from the available benefits of trading in the East African Community

Jabril Ibrahim Abdulle is Somalia’s new ambassador to Kenya, an appointment that puts him at the front of enhancing the warm relations between the two countries.

A two-time former presidential candidate, Abdulle arrives in Nairobi with expertise from the political front and an inside knowledge of the Kenyan diplomatic terrain.

He was formally received by President William Ruto and handed in his diplomatic credentials at State House, Nairobi, on December 7, 2023.

The incoming ambassador has extensive contacts between Mogadishu and Nairobi.

“Kenya and Somalia are almost always on the same page on diplomatic and commercial matters and I expect him to maintain or even improve on that,” said Abdan Hassan, a political affairs journalist based in Mogadishu.

Kenya-Somalia border

Abdulle unsuccessfully contested the presidency in Somalia in 2017. In 2022 he was initially in the race but stepped down before the polling day.

In appointing Abdulle, Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, is banking on a man who has lived and worked in Nairobi for the past decade.

Abdulle has replaced Mohamed Nur Tarzan in Nairobi where a full in-tray awaits him. He is expected to be at the centre of the reopening of the between Kenya-Somalia border. The border in Mandera, Wajir and Garissa has remained closed since 2009 owing to security reasons.

Somalia’s new ambassador to Kenya Jabril Ibrahim Abdulle when he was formally received by President William Ruto at State House, Nairobi, on December 7, 2023. Courtesy

Coming in the backdrop of Somalia’s recent admission to the East African Community, Abdulle will be out to ensure his country benefits from the available benefits of trading in the eight-country economic bloc, which also Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda Burundi, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

These include one-stop border points, free visa, and free movement and people and goods within the country.

Trading partner

Despite the challenges, that mainly include insecurity posed by the terror group Al-Shabaab, Kenya and Somalia have enjoyed successful trade relations over the years.

Somalia mainly imports khat, pharmaceuticals, tobacco and other services from Kenya. Data from the Central Bank of Kenya indicates Somalia bought goods worth Sh11.4 billion from Kenya in the first six months of 2023, representing a 76 per cent increase.

Somalia is currently Kenya’s fifth largest trading partner in Africa, after Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Egypt and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Somali nationals have also found a home in Kenya where a huge Somali community lives, works and does business.

Among the challenges Abdulle could encounter at his Nairobi posting is the maritime dispute between the two countries which ended at the International Court of Justice in 2021.

By Nation Media Kenya, Africa