The Hague – Somalia took its maritime border dispute with Kenya to the United Nations’ top court on Thursday, which could decide the fate of potentially lucrative oil and gas reserves off east Africa.
The dispute has been simmering for years, keeping investors away because of the lack of legal clarity over who owns potential offshore oil and gas reserves.
The internationally-backed government in Mogadishu is seeking to claw back authority over Somalia’s territorial waters, including the area bordering Kenya that is potentially rich in oil and gas deposits.
Kenya, which has had troops in southern Somalia since 2011, first as an invading force and then as part of an African Union peacekeeping force, lays claim to a triangle of water stretching for more than 100,000 square kilometres (40,000 square miles) that Mogadishu also claims.
Nairobi has already awarded exploration contracts to international firms despite the legal uncertainty.