Friday, October 12, 2018

Port and Logistics Group Begin Construction of New African Deep Water Freight Facilities

DP World Cocks a Snook at Somalia and Djibouti
Shipping News Feature
SOMALILAND – Global port management group and provider of freight and logistics facilities DP World, has begun construction work on the development of the multi-purpose Berbera port in the Republic of Somaliland, with a special ground-breaking ceremony to mark the occasion.

The first phase will consist of building a 400-metre quay and 250,000 square metre yard extension as well as the development of a free zone to create a new regional trading hub. DP World Berbera, the joint venture company, will also serve land locked countries in the Horn of Africa such as Ethiopia which now has a 19% stake in the project as a shareholder, a decision that neighbouring Somalia opposed believing its sovereignty to have been violated, leading to the Somali Federal Government declaring the deal as null and void.

Somaliland declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991 but remains unrecognised by the larger international community. Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi dismissed Somalia's objections arguing that the agreement had nothing to do with Somalia. Speaking of the ground-breaking ceremony, Bihi Abdi, said:

“Today is an historic day as we mark another major milestone in the development of our economy and by investing in our infrastructure we will be able to grow for the benefit of our people, the region and beyond. Connecting to landlocked countries such as Ethiopia and the rest of the region will reinforce the firm relationships that now exist and make Somaliland an important player in regional economic integration and growth. The importance of the Port of Berbera as a Red Sea gateway for the Middle East and Africa can now be realised, unlocking our potential as a trade hub and creating jobs across the country.”

Long term DP World partner Shafa Al Nahda Contracting has been awarded the construction contract for the port expansion. The Dubai building firm has been involved in the Port of Dakar expansion in Senegal as well the Port of Maputo expansion project in Mozambique, meanwhile the new development will go some way to satiate DP World’s desire for a larger presence in the region after the saga of its dismissal from Doraleh in nearby Djibouti.

Somaliland’s parliament approved the partnership with DP World in 2016, allowing the port operator to invest $442 million to rebuild the Port of Berbera and manage it through a 30-year concession. DP World Group Chairman & CEO Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, said:

“This event is a landmark in the history of Somaliland and for DP World. We are delighted that construction work has begun and over the next few years we will see a transformation in the capacity of this major infrastructure asset that will benefit people both here and across the Horn of Africa, providing an alternative gateway to international markets and providing jobs to the people of Somaliland.

“This is all part of our vision to act as an enabler of trade and to encourage growth by helping African countries develop their economies with access to global markets. Investment in this natural deep-water port and free zone will act as a catalyst for the growth of the country and the region’s economy and create jobs at many levels.

"Alongside physical assets we are investing in the development of the people who work here through training and skills development across our network. I’d like to thank the Government and the people of Somaliland for inviting us to be a long-term partner in the future of their nation.”

Photo: Artist’s mock-up of how the future facilities might appear.