Somaliland Press Freedom: Opportunities and Challenges

Media plays a key part in the democratisation process in Somaliland, vital in efforts to improve all branches of the state and its democratic performance. This publication of papers presented at a 2013 conference on Press Freedom explores the opportunities and challenges of Somaliland's media development.  

Somaliland needs legal, policy and institutional reforms in order to avoid arbitrary and politically motivated interference with the dissemination of information and opinions to the public. This is the conclusion of one of the papers presented at the 4th Annual Conference organized by the Social Research and Development Institute (SORADI).

With a focus on media development, the conference in Hargeisa on August 24 and 25 brought together representatives from government institutions, policy makers, civil society as well as academics, journalists, international scholars, and traditional leaders to discuss, debate and exchange ideas on press freedom in Somaliland's young democracy. With 57 licensed newspapers, 8 TV stations, 108 news websites but only one public radio station the first contribution to the discussion centered on the media industry, its practices and the lack of enforcement of regulatory frameworks. Lessons from what the author of the second paper called "Africa's freedom of speech dilemma" guided the conversation on what there is to learn for Somaliland. Further afield, the third paper dealt with the role of the Diaspora in shaping the media landscape in Somaliland. As part of the discussion on professional media practices, the fourth presentation looked at challenges of Somaliland Universities to offer relevant studies programmes. Debating the intricate issue of balancing rights and responsibilities of media, the fifth paper looked at the performance of the media during the time of elections. The final paper summarised promises and challenges of media freedom in Somaliland.

With the support of the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Delegation of the European Commission in Kenya, SORADI has so far organised 4 Annual Conferences in Somaliland. Annual conferences are considered an effective way of creating high level public debate to generate important recommendations which address challenges to democratization in the Somaliland context as well as promoting ownership of the process and its evolution.  The conference also provides an objective platform for the voice of academia, applied researchers and intellectuals to productively engage public institutions on issues of democracy, human rights and good governance. The conference serves as a forum for assessing Somaliland’s democratization and both the efficiency and weaknesses of the institutions and processes that are in place.

Conference papers, full conference report and four additional papers looking at elections, affirmative action for women's political participation and aid in Somaliland can be downloaded here:

Conference proceedings of earlier Annual Conferences can be found under the following links: