Hargeisa Money Exchange, Somaliland’s unique market, influenced by the depreciation of the shilling against the US dollar, has become a part of everyday life. Despite the currency’s diminished value, there’s no fear of theft.

Below is an article published by The Financial Express, the First Financial Daily of Bangladesh

In Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, a peculiar market scene unfolds daily, challenging stereotypical commercial transactions. Picture this: shoppers sitting in orderly rows, not to barter for produce or goods, but to engage in the unexpected trade of money itself. This is not a fantasy but a reality that has unfolded for years in this small African nation.

Amidst the typical transactions of vegetables and fruits, an unconventional exchange takes center stage – the buying and selling of money.


Money is a commodity here, traded much like any other market item. The sight of currency changing hands at a rate equivalent to the weight of nine kilograms of potatoes may seem surreal. But in Somaliland, it’s a genuine part of everyday life.

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A moneychanger in Hargeisa. Ismail Ahmed argues that remittances are the key to Somaliland’s economy and the UN and aid agencies exaggerate the amount they contribute. Photograph: Pedro Ugarte/EPA

As one navigates through the market, the strange practice of trading money for money garners attention. Instead of witnessing the conventional exchange of goods and services, visitors find themselves immersed in a unique economic landscape, where the local currency, the shilling, is not just a means of transaction but an item for trade.

The vendors on the sidewalks of Hargeisa markets participate in this unorthodox commerce, reflecting the country’s indifference towards traditional monetary value.

Somaliland’s currency, the shilling, has witnessed a dramatic depreciation against the US dollar over the years. In 2000, it took approximately 10,000 shillings to equal one US dollar. Fast forward five years, and the exchange rate saw a dollar valued at about 9,000 shillings.

However, today’s economic scenario paints a different picture, with one US dollar

Money Sold In Kilograms At A Unique Market In Somaliland
Money Changers in Hargeisa Market

commanding around 8,000 shillings. The drastic fall in the value of the shilling against the dollar birthed this distinctive money market back in those days when the exchange rate became a unique spectacle.

To put it into perspective, the economic hardship faced by this small African nation is evident when comparing the value of currencies. While 1 Bangladeshi Taka is equivalent to 6 Somaliland Shillings, the calculation of shillings received in exchange for $100 would require a small truck for transport.

Intriguingly, despite the conspicuous trade of money on the roadside, a surprising element exists – the absence of fear related to theft. The currency’s intrinsic value is so diminished that there is no incentive for the thieves. In this unorthodox market, where money is both the medium and the merchandise, the once-desired possession has transformed into an item of negligible value for thieves.