Also the return of those soldiers from Somalia represents a considerable threat to Nkurunziza’s own security. One thousand unhappy and restless soldiers no longer earning US dollars may get funny ideas.
Stephanie Wolters, senior research fellow at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria, says the same problem came to a head a few years ago when the European Union wanted to circumvent the Burundian government and pay its AMISOM soldiers directly.
‘That did not go down well with Nkurunziza, the AU or other countries contributing troops to AMISOM,’ she says.
Somalia, meanwhile, stands on the possible threshold of a major offshore oil and gas find which could eventually solve its financial and other problems. Seismic probes have indicated not only rich reserves of gas, but also of oil below the seabed in Somalia’s waters.
As the Norwegian seismic company Spectrum Geo has reported, the East African coast has almost too much gas. Mozambique and Tanzania are jostling to find markets for their vast gas reserves. What made the Somali offshore geology exciting, it said, was ‘the scent of oil’.
If proven by drilling, the gas and particularly oil reserves below the seabed could address many of the country’s needs – though of course that would be some years down the line.
And in any case Somalia would only benefit if it managed to avoid the pitfalls of almost all its fellow resource-rich African states, by ensuring that its apparently abundant petro resources become a blessing and not a curse.