Dubai state-owned port operator DP World has launched a 101 million US dollar project to expand a port in the breakaway region of Somaliland.
Somaliland broke away from Somalia in 1991 and has acted as a de-facto independent state since then but is not internationally recognized.
“In our region, Horn of Africa, there is a lot of conflicts and most of the conflicts are because of unemployment of the youth, maybe thirty per cent of our youth is unemployed,” said Muse Bihi Abdi, the breakaway region’s president.
“The region was not stable for a long time, so, the investment of DP World and other companies from any other country it will be beneficial to the whole region.”
The United Arab Emirate’s Dubai government owns DP World.
DP World said the first phase of expansion will consist of constructing a 400-meter quay as well as the development of a free-zone, with Emirati firm Shafa Al Nahda the contractor.
The first phase is part of an expansion deal signed with DP World in 2016 and worth a total of 442 million US dollars.
DP World’s chairman and chief executive Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem said Berbera would serve Ethiopia’s expanding economy and its increasing trade.
“There are over two hundred million people in Africa who live in landlocked countries and those people, the cost of bringing cargo to them is very expensive, they are suffering from that and so as DP World we are a company that mastered the art of handling cargo efficiency and logistics, we have a plan whereby it’s a combination of ports, seaports and inland logistics,” the Sultan said.
But the launch comes amid opposition from Somalia, which believes its sovereignty is being violated. Senior officials have said such deals “bypassed the legitimate authority” of Mogadishu.
In April this year Somalia’s Foreign Minister, Ahmed Isse Awad, told Reuters: “We are asking the DP, the Dubai Ports to reconsider these agreements, particularly the one in Berbera (port) since Somaliland is claiming to be an independent state from Somalia. We do not want the Somali sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia to be violated. So we call to the United Arab Emirates and to the Dubai Ports to reconsider the agreement and go through the legitimate authorities of Somalia.”
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Bihi Abdi has dismissed the claim adding that agreements with such international firms would boost the country’s quest to achieve international recognition.