What did Musa Bihi Abdi obtain in Abu Dhabi?

Musa Bihi didn’t meet crown prince of Abu-Dhabi, but obtained commitments from his brother

What did Musa Bihi Abdi obtain in Abu Dhabi?

Somaliland-UAE

Tuesday, April, 3, 2018 photo, Muse Bihi Abdi, the President of Somaliland speaks to The Associated Press in Hergeisa, Somaliland, Somalia. The breakaway northern region of Somaliland declared its independence nearly three decades ago, but despite having its own currency, parliament and military the predominantly Muslim country has not been recognized by any foreign government. Abdi is hoping to change that by aligning his country’s interests with energy-rich Gulf Arab states eager to expand their military footprint in the Horn of Africa. (AP Photo/Malak Harb)

March 30, 2018 – Although the Somaliland president Musa Bihi Abdi did not meet with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan in mid-March, he did obtain commitments from his brother Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

With DP World, which was ejected from Djibouti on 22 February, set to develop the port of Berbera and the Berbera Corridor to Addis Abeba, tensions with Djibouti (which is wary of competition from the port of Berbera) and Mogadishu (which was not consulted by the Emirates over this dossier) have been revived.

Abu Dhabi will therefore be assisting with security in Somaliland and training its police and army. However, the Somaliland president, who is finding this sensitive dossier tricky to handle, was unable to sign an accord allowing the Emirates to establish a military base in Berbera because the Somaliland authorities have yet to designate the precise zone for the base.

The former president Ahmed Mohamed Mahamoud, alias Silanyo, allocated land in this sector to private owners who do not intend to give it up. Musa Bihi Abdi has entrusted his foreign minister, Saad Ali Shire, an Issaq/Haber Awal/Saad from the Berbera region, with the task of persuading them to vacate the sector, but so far to no avail. According to our sources, he may be replaced in a future reshuffle as a result.

The foreign minister, who was already in this post under Silanyo, is already in the bad books of the president after he found out that in 2017 Saad Ali Shire had accorded to the UAE the operating concession for Berbera airport for a period of 25 years, the president having been under the impression that only a simple term sheet had been signed.
Source: ION, March 30, 2018
Description of source: Since 1981, ION investigates within the power spheres of the Eastern coast of Africa, from Karthoum to the Cape and the islands. Country of origin: France
© Copyrights 2018 Indigo Publications All Rights Reserved

Ethiopia Acquires 19 Percent Stake in Port of Berbera

April 12, 2018 – Shipping company DP World and the Republic of Somaliland have agreed to grant Ethiopia a 19 per cent stake in the Port of Berbera.

The trade operator said it would retain 51 percent with Somaliland keeping the other 30 percent. This paves the way for the world’s fourth biggest operator to invest $442 million. Financial details were not disclosed but an official statement said the Ethiopian Government would develop a 260-kilometer road from the site to its border. A new company will be formed to manage the shares which will then be divided between all three governments.

“I am so excited about the project,” said Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman. “It demonstrates our commitment towards the people of Somaliland and Ethiopia. Our vision is to make Somaliland a maritime hub in the Horn of Africa. The new advancements will create jobs and meet fast-growing demands for logistics and infrastructure.”

The positive news comes a week after neighbouring Djibouti ended a contract with DP World to run its Doraleh Container Terminal. This move was deemed illegal by the shipping company and proceedings have begun before a court in London. The six year dispute threatens to damp investor appetite in Djibouti and further disrupt its relationship with the UAE, where DP World is headquartered.

Boasting a portfolio of over 77 marine and inland terminals, DP World is supported by 50 related businesses in 40 countries across six continents. Container handling is the company’s core business and generates more than three quarters of its revenue. The new partnership strengthens political ties with the UAE. Up until now, the Port of Berbera has only been importing and exporting on a small scale – but that is soon to change.

“We continually improve our business to make it a safe, efficient and sustainable gateway in Africa,” said Xasan Abdullahi, General Manager. “It is our aim to create value for our customers by developing the best logistics, networks and clusters.”

Somaliland celebrated its 16th anniversary of independence last year and has been experiencing economic prosperity for over a decade. It can boast of an army, its own currency, legal system and now a maritime hub to compete with the likes of Djibouti. The UAE are constructing a military base in the region and have always been a staunch supporter of independence. Ethiopia are on equally positive terms with Somaliland after officials met in 2017 putting strong focus on peace, security, economy, trade and education.

“Our country views development of neighbouring countries as its own,” said Hailemariam Desalegn, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia. “We will continue to work with Somaliland by providing further educational opportunities. Ethiopia will also support the fight in combating Al- Shabaab.”

The land along the road into Berbera is barren and empty but its fortunes look set to change following this multi-million dollar deal. Locals and investors believe it is on the brink of an economic boom and there has been more building in the last two years than ever before. Unlike many other major towns in Somaliland, swathes of land around the port are government-owned.

A 12 kilometre trade free zone is planned for Berbera to support trading and generate jobs. Modelled on DP World’s Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) in Dubai, it has been put in place to encourage growth. Small and medium-sized companies will be given the chance to locate their operations in an environment conducive to trade. The free zone will target a wide range of businesses including warehousing, logistics, traders and manufacturers. First developments will focus on a 4 km² stretch of land with each further phase starting once the previous has achieved 85% occupancy.

The Somalian Ministry of Ports have dismissed the agreement as “defective” and said it was in breach of Somalia’s Provisional Constitution. In its response, Somaliland said the oppositional stance was not helpful in creating an effective environment for dialogue and had no bearing, whatsoever, on the commercial agreement in place.

Somalia’s attack hasn’t slowed down operations with workers already being sent to Thailand for training. These include operators, planners and administration professionals. Upon arrival, staff will be equipped with the required know-how in world class terminals and container handling. Broadening communication skills is another key priority.

“DP World wants to equip workers at the Port of Berbera with enough skills to create productive, efficient and safe trade solutions globally,” said Sulayem. “This is an ambitious project so the best processes need to be in place.”

Once complete, the port will be an additional asset in Ethiopia’s ever increasing import and export demands. Improving the Berbera corridor, a 250-kilometre road to the border town of Wajale, will provide strong transport links. Although Somaliland is not yet connected to Ethiopia by rail, investment in the corridor is estimated at an extra $200 million.

The total length of the road linking Berbera to Addis Ababa is 937 kilometres, 241 kms within Somaliland 696 kms within Ethiopia. Traffic volumes are high but it is in great need of resurfacing and general maintenance. It was originally constructed by a Lebanese company. Developing access to and from the site will improve profitability of the port, even though figures are already impressive.

Djibouti are aware that if Somaliland can tap into only a portion of Ethiopia’s import needs, then this could divert hundreds of millions of dollars in customs revenue away from them. The Port of Berbera is much closer to Ethiopia’s main commercial centres so will have an adverse impact in Djibouti’s current monopoly on Ethiopian trade. In response, Djibouti announced they were in talks with French shipping firm CMA CGM to develop a new container terminal at an initial cost of $660 million. CMA CGM failed to comment.

New advancements in the Port of Berbera offer a unique window of opportunity for Somaliland and foreign investors. With UAE backing, the country can leverage its strategic location and seriously compete with Djibouti. Foreign direct investment is at an all time high for Somaliland and if things continue as they have, this is definitely a small nation with big ambitions to watch.
Source: East African Business Week, April 12, 2018
© 2018 AllAfrica, All Rights Reserved

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