Djibouti, Horn of Africa region’s smallest nation, has inaugurated its largest port in efforts to become the African “Dubai”.
On Wednesday, as part of Djibouti’s ambitions to become a business hub for the Horn of Africa and Middle East region, Djibouti inaugurated the 690 hectares Doraleh Multipurpose Port.
The turnkey project, costing 590 million U.S. dollars and contracted by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation, is intended to handle 10,000 deadweight tonnage at a time.
The finance needed for the project was covered by Djibouti Port S.A. and China Merchants Holdings.
Despite its small size, Djibouti handles about 95 percent of landlocked Ethiopia’s export-import trade as well as serving several foreign nations and multinational organizations military base.
Djibouti also hopes the newly inaugurated Doraleh Multipurpose Port services the needs of landlocked nation South Sudan if and when the country gets out of its current civil war.
With Ethiopia’s population nearing 100 million people, and the economy growing at what the Ethiopian government says is 11 percent annually, Djibouti’s capacity to handle its neighbor’s cargo needs have been stretched.
The Ethio-Djibouti electrified rail line, stretching more than 750km and financed largely through Chinese funds and constructed in two phases by China Railway Group and China Civil Engineering Corporation, is also expected to be operational soon, further linking the two nations economically.
“Djibouti port’s distance from the Ethiopian border is only 96 km, you have the railway starting in the next few months cutting the (transport) time from four days to ten hours, reducing logistics cost greatly,” said Zemedeneh Negau, former Managing Partner at the office of Ernest and Young Ethiopia, adding that the new Djibouti port can also better service Ethiopia’s large shipping fleet.
However, he warned Ethiopia not to be dependent on one port option only, urging it to look at other alternatives.