Kenyan builders have flooded the Horn of Africa region of Somaliland, lending service to its booming construction industry.
The construction sector in the self-declared independent territory is expanding rapidly with new residential units in the latest housing style shooting up, especially in the suburbs of Hargeisa, the capital and largest town.
A quick survey in the area shows many of the builders are Kenyans, from those in charge of the site to the artisans.
The builders say working in Hargeisa is good, with decent salaries and even accommodation.
According to one of the construction workers there, he gets the equivalent of Sh65,000 at the end of the month with accommodation catered for, hence he has enough money to send to his family back home.
One of the big companies involved in the construction of houses is Kaabsan Real Estate, a property firm that provides luxurious homes and commercial real estate in Hargeisa.
The company has two projects involving 134 townhouses - Rugsan Gardens and Aragsan Villages.
The Standard visited Rugsan Gardens, which houses 68 townhouses that are now completed and sold out. This shows the high demand for housing in Hargeisa due to its fairly urban space.
The houses are in a gated community near the Hargeisa Egal International Airport.
Somaliland is a semi-desert area on the southern coast of the Gulf of Aden.
Various environmental factors have contributed to the modern buildings in the country.
According to Robert Ndalo, a Kenyan architect working with Kaabsan Real Estate, the construction industry varies between Kenya and Somaliland.
“Construction between Kenya and Somaliland is different, the soil context is different because this is a desert area and what they are using is a different typology of foundation, setting and materials are different,” he said.
He added that the walling system in Somaliland is different.
“In their walling system, they are using hollow blocks which they clad to have 300mm wall thickness so that the interior of the house is cool.”
Many of the Kenyans working in the construction industry in Hargeisa say the peace in Somaliland has given them hope to work in the country.
Somaliland is an unrecognised sovereign state on the southern coast of the Gulf of Aden, with an area of 176,120 square kilometres.
It neighbours Djibouti to the northwest, Ethiopia to the south and west, and Somalia to the east. As of 2021, its population was approximately 5.7 million residents.
After the collapse of the Somali central government in 1990 and the unilateral declaration of independence of the Republic of Somaliland, infrastructural reconstruction subsequently began in Hargeisa and other towns in the country.
Hargeisa has since then gone through a large-scale facelift. The renovations have been largely financed by local entrepreneurs, as well as Somali in the diaspora sending funds to relatives in the region through some of the various Somali-owned money transfer operators.
Many of the older buildings have been replaced by modern, multi-storied residential and commercial dwellings.