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A hub at the Horn

The importance of maritime links is growing in East Africa, especially for landlocked states. The port of Djibouti on the Bab-el-Mandeb strait is set to invest nigh-on USD 900 million in eight new terminals by 2017. Rail links to Addis Ababa in the hinterland have already been reestablished.


It is no coincidence that the UN’s third international conference on financing for development, held in mid-July, took place in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. Fiata attended the event, and presented freight forwarders’ interests for a sustainable logistics industry at the global level. The concrete steps are due to be negotiated at a further UN summit in New York in September, however.

 

In Addis Ababa the Common Mar­ket for Eastern and Southern Africa (Com­esa), which now has 19 member states with around 400 million inhabi­tants, pushed forward with its regional integration efforts. In this context ­Djibouti, at the Horn of ­Africa, represents the most im­port­ant gateway for imports and exports for Ethiopia, South Sudan and Uganda. Saad Omar Guelleh, the ­director general of the port, said recently that it is now set to be expanded into a regional hub. The acquisition in 2013 of a 23.5% stake in the company Port of Djibouti SA (PDSA) by China Merchants Holdings (International) (CMHI) was a milestone in this process, as is DP World’s involvement since 2011 in the gateway’s Doraleh ­Container Terminal (DCT).

 

Four prongs in the fire

The Doraleh Container Terminal is ­going to be enlarged by the addition of the new 690 ha Doraleh Multipurpose Port for ro-ro, dry and breakbulk cargo. PDSA and CMHI will invest USD 590 million in the project. The new port of Tadjou­rah, expected to commence operations in March 2016, has been designed to export 4 million t of potash annually. The port of Ghoubet, which will be able to handle 6 million t of salt from Lake Assal every year, will be ready by December. And ­finally the new livestock port of Damerjog will be established. There are also two airports under construction, further underlining Djibouti’s plans to become a key hub.

 

The hinterland – a classic Achilles heel – is not being neglected either. A 752 km railway line linking Djibouti and Addis Ababa was opened in June. Victor Shieh, editor-in-chief of Port Overview Africa 2015, published for the first time in July, said the track represents «remarkable progress». A long-awaited link from the Indian Ocean through to Guinea in West Africa has thus overcome a first hurdle.

Source: International Transport Juarnal