Growth of Berbera Port a Concern to Djibouti

(Busiweek)– Djibouti government is concerned about the growth of the Somaliland Port of Berbera despite remarks by the President saying they are not threatened with the developments.

In what is seen at a swipe at the DP World rather than ignoring the growing influence of Berbera port, Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh accused the Dubai based maritime developer of creating abuzz but doing little to show for its work.

When asked if Berbera Port which is being developed by the DP World was posing a massive threat to the Djibouti Port, Guelleh said: Massively? I haven’t heard anything of the sort so far, other than project proposals. DP World excels at creating buzz, but then, in the end, nothing happens. You don’t even see the slightest crane in the sky. We are paid to know.
However reports have indicate that Berbera port, once complete will compete for a large chunk of maritime business in the Red Sea currently dominated by Djibouti.

There is no love lost between the Djibouti government and DP World who are engaged in a legal tussle after the Guelleh led leadership ended its contract with DP World to run Doraleh Container Terminal (DCT) in February 2018, following a dispute between both parties. DP World called the move an illegal seizure of the terminal and moved to international arbitration and won the case.

The Dubai operator has turned to the justice system in the UK in its efforts to recover $485m from the Djibouti government.

The Berbera port growth is said to be giving Djibouti some headache as it offers an alternative base for material and fuel supply chains for operators in the Suez Canal and the case lodged by DP World is not making matters any smoother for the tiny former French colony.

According to Guled Ahmed, a Non-Resident Scholar with MEI, a renewable energy and water infrastructure expert, and an entrepreneur, Berbera and Zeila, two of the Horn of Africa’s ancient trading cities, have long attracted the interest of global powers because of their strategic location near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait connecting the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. This location makes Somaliland’s coastal ports among the region’s most valuable real estate and an alternative to Djibouti as a key player in terms of trade, development, energy, and water security for the Red Sea and Horn of Africa.