• Wednesday, Dec 02, 2020
  • Last Update : 02:42 am

Somaliland eyes key Red Sea trade role with Berbera port

  • Published at 06:40 pm July 28th, 2018
Trucks loaded with NOGs' food ratios from the Thorco Liva ship leave the Berbera port of Somaliland on July 21, 2018 AFP

The development will be a boon not only to Somaliland but also its landlocked neighbour Ethiopia - a fast-growing economy with a population of 100 million people that is eyeing new ports across the region to export its goods

The soporific seaside town of Berbera is slowly changing as it takes on a major role on the Red Sea shipping route, allowing breakaway Somaliland to dream of prosperity and even recognition.

At the Berbera port, dozens of containers are stacked on a sun-scorched platform and a few cranes creakily transfer sacks of sorghum and other goods from a rusting cargo ship.

The facilities are far from modern, but Somaliland hopes its position on one of the world's busiest shipping routes will turn the state into a job-creating dynamo - and encourage international recognition 27-years after it split from Somalia.

Somaliland's ambitions were boosted in March when it struck a deal giving Dubai port giant DP World a 51% stake in the port and Ethiopia 19%. 

DP World says it plans to invest $442 million to modernise the port, with a first extension of 4,300 square feet to begin in October that is expected to take 24 months.

"The benefit we expect from the development of the port is jobs. We expect to get many foreign investors to ... generate employment and income for us," said Saad Ali Shire, the Somaliland minister of foreign affairs.

He said the port has long been the main source of revenue for the government of the breakaway state.

Nevertheless the arrival of DP World has been a "cultural shock" for those used to the slow pace of business at the port, admits Said Hassan Abdullahi, director general of the port authority.

"There has been a big change ... in terms of volume of containers. Since they took over we got more customers," he said.

Ethiopia eyes sea access

The deal has seen the number of containers transiting through Berbera double to 100,000 twenty-foot-equivalent units (TEUs), a standard measurement in shipping.

Abdullahi predicts that the investment will cause throughput to increase fivefold - a figure that will bring Berbera closer to the capacity of nearby Djibouti's ultra-modern ports which handle around 980,000 TEU per year. 

The development will be a boon not only to Somaliland but also its landlocked neighbour Ethiopia - a fast-growing economy with a population of 100 million people that is eyeing new ports across the region to export its goods.

Cut off from the coast since former province Eritrea won independence in 1993, prompting a violent border conflict, Ethiopia funnels 95 percent of its trade through Djibouti.

But now a breakneck peace process with Eritrea has also opened up new trade routes through its ports of Massawa and Assab, which with the developments in Berbera could reshape trade in the Horn of Africa region.

Somaliland, which avoided the anarchy and chaos Somalia has experienced over the past three decades, "is well positioned to have a more influential role when it comes to economic and trade issues," said Ahmed Soliman, a researcher at the London-based Chatham House think-tank.

However the DP World deal has angered Somalia, which does not recognise Somaliland's independence and declared it unconstitutional.

Shire said the deal had affected ongoing talks between Mogadishu and Hargeisa, which had been expected to resume in March.

blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail