Djibouti Aims to Become Africa’s Hub
Djibouti Strives to Provide a Gateway for Landlocked African Countries to Unlock Africa’s Economic PotentialJune 17th, 2016
Djibouti may be a small country on the horn of Africa, but it is already a strategic place for bigger powers. But the country has greater ambitions: it is developing a strategy to become a gateway for landlocked African countries.
Djibouti is strategically located on the horn of Africa, at the junction of the Red sea and the Indian Ocean and at the gateway of the Suez Canal. 90% of world trade is shipped by sea and Djibouti intends to take advantage of the numerous possibilities which its location offers by providing world-class port facilities.
Countries without any access to the sea suffer a terrible disadvantage in their external trade. Although less than 50 countries in the world do not possess a coastline, ten of those countries are part of the sub-Saharan Africa: Burkina-Faso, Mali, Niger, Chad, the Central African Republic, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia. It is vital for these countries to be able to connect to global trades routes in order to develop their economies.
Being the coastal hub in East Africa is therefore the objective of Djibouti, and it could bring to the country billions of dollars. “This is the role that Djibouti is determined to play. We may be a small country, no larger than the American state of New Jersey, but we understand that we have a big responsibility to the wider region”, said Aboubaker Omar Hadi, the Chairman of the Djibouti Ports and Free Zones.
In order to do so, Djibouti invests massively in its port facilities. 15 billion dollars will be invested over the next five years to improve facilities and transport links. Other than the port infrastructures, it includes connections with Djibouti’s neighbours, such as the ambitious project of the Trans-African Railways that will connect Dakar to Djibouti, a super highway to Ethiopia and the construction of two airports.
The results are already showing. In 2009, Djibouti’s ports handled 11 million tonnes of goods, a quantity which has multiplied by two in five years. Djibouti is benefitting from Ethiopia’s fast economic growth and the country has been selected by China to be part of its maritime project, Silk Road.
Djibouti has held for many years a strategic position for the big powers, France, the United States and Japan have military bases in the country and China and Saudi Arabia are building their own. But Djibouti aspires to be more than a simple outpost for those military powers. For Aboubaker Omar Hadi, “Djibouti is ready to play its part in unlocking Africa’s vast economic potential”.
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Gaspard Fontaine, CD News