Dubai port operator’s move into Somaliland has brought ‘big change’ to traditionally slow pace of business, says port chief
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-percent stake in the port and Ethiopia 19 percent.
DP World says it plans to invest $442 million (377 million euros) to modernise the port, with a first extension of 400 square metres (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.