Revenues on the hoof: Livestock trade, taxation and state-making in the Somali territories

Ahmed Musa*, Finn Stepputat, Tobias Hagmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This article considers the relationship between livestock taxation and local state formation dynamics in the northern Somali territories. While the economic importance of livestock in Somalia is undisputed, its significance as a source of revenue and legitimacy for public administrations and competing state-building projects has been overlooked. Drawing on fieldwork in Somaliland’s main livestock markets and the Berbera corridor, we highlight the interplay between public administrations that seek to maximize livestock revenue and traders who attempt to minimize taxation. State attempts to capture these ‘revenues on the hoof’ by both coercive and consensual means, shifting livestock trading routes and fluctuating animal trading volumes produce different taxation patterns across the Somali territories. As a result, fiscal contracts between livestock traders and public administrations are marked by various degrees of reciprocity and coercion.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Eastern African Studies
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)108-127
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • livstock trade
  • taxation
  • Somali territories
  • state formation
  • state building
  • Somaliland
  • Somalia
  • revenue bargaining

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