Hargeisa:() The Somaliland Port of Berbera is set to become the most modern port in the Horn of Africa and East Africa coastline once inaugurated.
Facilities and services will surpass those in neighboring Djibouti according to the contractors.
DP World, the Dubai maritime company that is involved in the expansion of the port has projected to complete work by February next year.
According to the company, the port will be able to handle the biggest ships compared to the other ports in the region and will complement activities at the Port of Djibouti and the Lamu Port which is also under expansion on the coast of Kenya.
The Berbera Port expansion is the largest investment in Somaliland since it parted ways with Somalia in 1991. Efforts by the Somali government to block the expansion have come to naught.
Somalia had banned DP World from operating in Berbera, saying that a contract that the company signed the Republic of Somaliland to develop the port and economic zone was null and void.
However, this has not deterred the Somaliland government from proceeding with the project which is now almost complete.
Work on the port expansion has reduced due to the measures put in place in the fight against the spread of the deadly coronavirus but the Somaliland government and the DP World have projected all facilities will be ready for operation early 2021.
“We are very much on course. Of course, the coronavirus has affected the speed at which we were on, but we will soldier on and deliver the most modern port facility in Berbera,” an official of the DP World said.
The Berbera port expansion, designed to equip the Somaliland port for major vessels and transform it into one of Africa’s pre-eminent facilities.
Expansion of the port started early last year with the first phase at a cost $101 million.
Federico Banos-Linder, Vice President External Relations, DP World, said once the port is done, Somaliland will be one of the biggest and most modern players in the maritime industry in the Horn of Africa.
“Already with phase one of the three phases done, we have increased the container capacity by 50 percent and pushed volumes by 70 percent which is a massive improvement.
“We are now exporting 4 million livestock from 1.5 million just less than a year ago,” said Banos-Linder.
The 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 ship 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
“Our aim is to make this an important regional hub for the maritime industry in the Horn of Africa,” DP World chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sultan bin Sulayem said.
“We are within schedule in our work,” he added.
DP World holds a 51 percent stake in the Berbera port, while Ethiopia holds 19 percent and Somaliland the rest.
In recent years, the DP world has stepped up its investments in Africa in order to capture the continent’s growth potential.
By Derek Otieno