General view of the Tema oil refinery near Ghana's capital Accra
General view of the Tema oil refinery near Ghana's capital Accra March 28, 2005. REUTERS

Somaliland has struck a deal with Chinese businessmen to extend its Berbera port as well as TO build a refinery and new roads in the breakaway northern enclave, its president said.

Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo said Somaliland, which declared its independence from Somalia in 1991 but has not been formally recognised internationally, said the new deal would boost its economy and strengthen ties with Horn of Africa neighbours.

In a statement issued late on Thursday, Silanyo said he met businessmen in Hong Kong who are experienced in financing and building infrastructure projects in developing countries as well as Ethiopian leaders during a fortnight-long trip.

He said details of the deal and how the projects will be funded would be disclosed soon.

The projects include the expansion of Berbera Port and pipelines for natural gas and fuel to Ethiopia. A refinery will also be built at the port, as well as a road linking Berbera to Wajale, a town on the Ethiopia-Somaliland border.

Somaliland is helping a global fight against piracy in the Indian Ocean which has turned busy shipping lanes off the coast of the conflict-wrecked state of Somalia into some of the world's most perilous waters.

The Somaliland leader has said in the past his region had no interest in reunification with the rest of Somalia, which is grappling with a famine and is struggling to quash an Islamist rebellion that has hampered the delivery of food aid across swathes of its southern and central regions.