Recently on the popular Gulf News Dirhams and Dollars podcast, the port of Berbera was the main debate. You can listen to it below and/or read our summary below:
Omar Sherriff, Deputy Editor of Gulf News
Recently on the popular Gulf News Dirhams and Dollars podcast, the port of Berbera was the main debate. This episode of the business-focused podcast featured Omar Sheriff, the Deputy Editor of Gulf News who travelled extensively to Somaliland and particularly Berbera. During his trip he met with the Somaliland Foreign Minister Dr Saad Shire and the President Muse Bihi Abdi. As such the Deputy Editor was able to gain insights on the operations of Berbera Port in the aftermath of DP World taking over operations, which happened in 2016.
The Deputy Editor touched on Somaliland’s pristine 800km of coastline located in a strategic location at the nexus of the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea. He also shared that the DP World operation in Berbera Port employs 780 locally recruited Somalilanders. As such, the Berbera Port deal is a big deal for the local economy in Berbera and increases the local populations spending power. The Deputy Editor also touched on how the UAE and Somaliland trade relationship is key because the UAE is Somaliland’s window to the world as proven by the 3 flights a week from Hargeisa to Dubai.
When asked by the presenters about the Somalia Parliamentary vote on Berbera Port, the Deputy Editor disclosed that he personally met with President Muse Bihi who made it clear that Somalia can do nothing about the Berbera deal. According to President Bihi, his Somalia counterpart President Farmajo needs foreign troops to protect himself and guarantee his own safety. Therefore, Somalia is in no position to lay claim to Berbera and the Deputy Editor brushed this off as a classic of grandstanding.
DP World Operations in Berbera Port
The Deputy Editor touched on how Somaliland is entirely funded by the large, wealthy diaspora and the vibrant private sector. In addition, Somaliland sees the decision of DP World to operate in Berbera is a stamp of approval on their growing economy and trade relationships. DP World has also made it clear that it has major expansion plans for Berbera port vis-à-vis its operations in Ethiopia etc. Somaliland shares a lot of commonalities with Djibouti in terms of location, culture and political relationships.
The Deputy Editor also met with the Berbera Port-DP World Head of Operations, Ali Mahmoud who is a British Somalilander. Mr Mahmoud explained to the Deputy Editor that the Berbera Port expansion will be in staggered phases. e He referred to these phases of the Berbera Port expansion as Phases 0,1 and 2. According to the Head of Operations, Mr Mahmoud, the port is currently in Phase 1 which will last until 2020. This phase will see the launch of the Berbera Corridor, which will include an extension of the port. It should be noted that the port is currently big enough to meet Somaliland’s expansion needs as a country.
The Head of Operations also mentioned to the Deputy Editor that the DP World managed Berbera port will become more focused on developing the internal trade routes in and around Africa. At the same time, Berbera port has undergone expansion and upgrades since DP World took over the management of Berbera port in 2016. The port expansion and accompanying Berbera Corridor will be completed by 2020 as Somaliland transitions Berbera Port into a major, regional port with substantial operations.