On May 11, executives with DP World held a ceremony with President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Sillanyo of Somaliland to celebrate the start of DP’s 30-year concession at the port of Berbera.
DP will invest up to $442 million in two phases to build a multipurpose port at Berbera, including a 400-yard quay, a 60-acre yard extension and a new free zone. “This is part of our vision to act as an enabler of trade and to facilitate growth by helping African countries develop their infrastructure that connects them to global markets,” said DP World Group Chairman & CEO Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem. “These are exciting times for our industry and for Africa, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to be an integral part of Somaliland’s development.”
Since it took over management from the government of Somaliland in March, DP World says that it has retained all 713 permanent employees and begun training and staff development to prepare them for roles in a modern port.
President Sillanyo emphasized that the project is a symbol of Somaliland’s diplomatic relationships as much as a development initiative. “This DP World investment . . . will strengthen the relationship between the Republic of Somaliland and the UAE which existed for many centuries in the past,” he said in a statement.
Somaliland is self-governing and is widely recognized as an autonomous region of Somalia, but it seeks diplomatic recognition as an independent nation with peer-level ties to other states. In February, President Sillanyo signed an agreement giving the UAE military a base in Berbera, just across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen. In exchange, the Emirates will provide training and equipment to Somaliland’s forces.
DP World contributes to drought relief
On Thursday, DP World said that it is working closely with the local government in Berbera to provide water to the community. The port operator has already given 1.2 million gallons of water to 15,000 local families, and it says that it is working on long-term solutions to the area’s water scarcity.
Somaliland, like neighboring territories in Somalia, is in the grips of a severe and prolonged drought. The United Nations warns that millions of people face starvation as the water shortage kills off the livestock herds that Somalis rely on for sustenance.
In April, Somaliland Vice President Abdirahman Abdullahi Seylici told media that the government would suspend its development projects in order to save its funds for drought and famine relief. “When there is fear that a lot of people might die due to the worsening drought, we decided to suspend building developmental projects . . . we decided to divert money to emergency, life-saving and drought-response efforts,” Seylici told VOA.