Message From the Chairman
There are fewer than fifty landlocked countries in the world but no less than ten form an interconnected chain across sub-Saharan Africa. Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Chad, the Central African Republic, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia form a band across the continent without any access to the coast.
In a world in which 90 percent of all trade is shipped by sea, this is a major obstacle to their prosperity and development. Facing long delays and increased costs to move goods to and from global markets, these countries can struggle to meet the needs of their citizens. This, in turn, can have a damaging impact on their peace and stability.
It is not possible, of course, to alter geography. But by providing access to world-class port facilities, these countries can be connected to global trade routes and helped to provide more opportunities for their people.
This is the role that Djibouti is determined to play. We may be a small country, no larger than the American state of New Jersey, but we understand that we have a big responsibility to the wider region.
Situated at the mouth of the Red Sea and at the gateway to the Suez Canal, Djibouti is a place of huge strategic importance. Uniquely, our country already plays host to the military forces of five members of the G7: France, Italy, Germany, Japan and the US. China has been added to this list with the development of their naval base in 2017. Moreover, the naval forces of Spain, South Korea, the UK, and many others are also frequent callers at our ports.
Our strategic location and world-class facilities have also seen Djibouti’s importance as a trade hub recognised globally. China has selected Djibouti to be a key part of its maritime Silk Road project. This links Asia to Europe and the Middle East and will give a new boost to global economic growth. And it is easy to see why China wants to strengthen its trade routes with Africa. Our continent’s GDP is predicted to double by 2035, with the population expected to reach 2.5 billion over the next thirty years.
2017: Start of a New Era
The year 2017 was a fruitful year, a year in which many important infrastructure projects were inaugurated, a year undeniably marking the beginning of a new era for Djibouti. To begin with, it is with immense joy and unparalleled pride that Djibouti blew its forty candles, forty years of national sovereignty. The past year is undoubtedly a year forever sealing the crowning of the vision of our President, his Excellency Ismael Omar Guelleh.
Many national development projects, worth over USD 4.7 B, have been inaugurated in 2017. Within an interval of only a few months, no less than three ports and one electrified railway line stretching 759 km from Djibouti to Ethiopia were inaugurated.
In collaboration with our Chinese partners, the Doraleh Multi-purpose Port (DMP) was opened in April 2017. This state-of-the- art port will allow Djibouti to keep pace with the rising trade between Africa and the rest of the world. Shortly thereafter, it was the port of Tadjourah and the port of Ghoubet which were inaugurated. The port of Tadjourah will focus on the export of potash, whereas the port of Ghoubet will be dedicated to the export of salt from Lake Assal. This year was concluded with the commercial operationalisation of the railway linking our capital to that of Ethiopia, representing the first link in a larger system around the Trans-African Railway Project reaching the Gulf of Guinea and Douala, via Bangui and N'Djamena. All in all, the realization of these unprecedented projects brings Djibouti a little closer to its ambition of becoming a regional logistics hub.
Future Projects Planned
Although 2017 marked an exceptional year for our country, Djibouti will not rest on its laurels. Numerous development projects worth over USD 10.0 B are planned to be executed in the next five years to improve facilities and transport links to maximise the benefits of our people, the wider region, and the global economy.
These projects include the construction of two large free zones, the Djibouti International Free Trade Zone (DIFTZ) and the Djibouti Damerjog Industrial Development Free Trade Zone (DDID). Both free trade zones will allow companies to enjoy from favourable tax policies, social security requirements, and employee regulations. The DIFTZ is focused on developing centres related to distribution, trading, manufacturing, and financial services, whereas the DDID is committed to develop heavy industries including oil, gas, ship repair, and livestock operations.
Djibouti already handles the bulk of Ethiopia’s maritime trade, transported on 1,500 trucks a day. However, the construction of two new airports and a new highway to Ethiopia will strengthen the links between Djibouti and its hinterland.
Moreover, the construction of a new container terminal, the implementation of a Port Community System, and the realisation of the Djibouti Business District will ensure that Djibouti is ready to play its part in unlocking Africa’s vast economic potential.
To conclude, I would like to take this opportunity to wish to all our partners in the port community and to all employees of our institutions, my best wishes for health, prosperity and success in our bright future together.
Mr. Aboubaker Omar Hadi Chairman DPFZA