, HARGEISA, Somaliland, Oct 12 – Dubai Port (DP) World company officially commenced the the expansion of the Berbera Port of Somaliland on Thursday after signing a deal that will see the port get a face lift to meet modern standards.
Somaliland president Musa Behi Abdi and DP World chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sultan bin Sulayem signed the multi million dollar partnership at the Somaliland Presidential State House kick starting the first phase of the expansion project.
This came a day after a ground breaking ceremony with Somaliland’s vice president, Abdirahman Saylici and DP World executives took place in the small coastal town at the tip of the Horn of Africa on Wednesday.
The Berbera port expansion, designed to equip the Somaliland port for major vessels and transform it into one of Africa’s pre-eminent facilities.
The first phase of the $101 million investment will see the port yard expanded by 250,000 square metres and modernise its facilities. Total investment of the two phases will reach $442m. The port’s current capacity is around 150,000 twenty-foot equivalent units [a measure of ships container carrying capacity] and is set to expand to 450,000 TEUs once development is complete.
DP World firm will also create an economic free zone in the surrounding area, targeting a range of companies in sectors from logistics to manufacturing, and a $100m road-based economic corridor connecting Berbera with Wajaale in Ethiopia.
DP World Chief Executive Officer speaking before the official Sultan bin Sulayem signing of the contract said the modernisation of the port will see Berbera regain its right as an important port and a critical maritime transportation route.
“Our aim is to make this an important regional hub for the maritime industry in the Horn of Africa,” he said.
He said DP World will create a magnate that will attract cargo to Berbera which is one of the many ports in the world that the company is managing and ensure ships utilise the facility.
“This port will turn around the economy of Berbera, Somaliland and the horn of Africa. Berbera has the potential of growing like Dubai which also started as a small port,” he said adding that DP World will develop a free zone at the port to make it attract business and employment opportunities.
The investment , he said will benefit the government in terms of income generation. “Land prices close to the port has increased and hotels and houses are already coming up, which is a good sign. There will be more trade and foreign investment thanks to the stability and peace in the country.”
DP World holds a 51 per cent stake in the Berbera port, while Ethiopia holds 19 per cent and Somaliland the rest. In recent years, DP world has stepped up its investments in Africa in order to capture the continent’s growth potential.
Somaliland president said the expansion of Berbera Port is one of the long term goals the government has set to improve the infrastructure of the country which has been embroiled in a battle for international recognition since parting ways with Somalia after the break of the civil war in 1991.
The president said thousands of jobs will be created as a result of the port expansion and that DP World will rely on the domestic security apparatus of Somaliland, which includes the police, military and coast guard, to protect the port.
“This is just the beginning of a long term goal to turn around this country. We are happy to sign this deal and we welcome DP world to Somaliland,” said the president amid cheers from local leaders, businessmen and invited foreign guests who attended the function.
President Bihi Abdi, added “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.”
Shafa Al Nahda Contracting has been awarded the contract for the port expansion.