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News: Ethiopia welcomes DP World’s desire to jointly enhance Berbera Port, will negotiate terms of cooperation

Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Chairman and CEO of DP World with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Demeke Mekonnen. Photo: Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem/LinkedIn

Addis Abeba – Oumer Hussein, Ethiopian Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), said the government welcomes DP World’s desire to cooperate with Ethiopia in the development of Somaliland’s Berbera Port.

The Ambassador told state media that DP World’s desire to cooperate with Ethiopia is a welcoming approach that the government is working for.

Ethiopia “would like to cooperate on port development with not only DP World, but also with any interested companies or countries,” Ambassador Oumer said.

Such cooperation with DP World would be an “extension of [Ethiopia’s] robust partnership with the UAE and it is more rewarding than similar accords that would be concluded with other parties,” the Ambassador further said. On the trade volume between Ethiopia and the UAE, the Ambassador stated that UAE’s investment in Ethiopia has reached US$2.4 billion mark whereas Ethiopians are also investing in the UAE is also increasing. “The two governments’ strong aspiration is the driving force for the growth of Ethio-UAE diplomatic ties. In my view, the huge investment potential is still untapped,” he said.

Last week, following a “productive” meeting with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Demeke Mekonnen on the sides of World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Chairman and CEO of DP World, said that he was “thrilled to announce our joint commitment to enhancing the Berbera Port, a key gateway for regional connectivity.”

Calling the partnership “strategic”, the CEO further said it will “not only solidifies economic ties but also paves the way for sustainable growth.

“As we stand at the forefront of change, the DP World and Ethiopia alliance signifies a bold step towards a brighter, more connected future,” Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem said in his statement posted on his LinkedIn.

On 01 January, Ethiopia and Somaliland signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), to enable Ethiopia “to secure access to the sea and diversify its access to seaports.” Ethiopia said the MoU “includes provisions for the Ethiopian government to make an in-depth assessment towards taking a position regarding the efforts of Somaliland to gain recognition.”

In a televised interview aired two days ago, Somaliland’s President Muse Bihi said “the agreement specifies that Ethiopia’s imports and exports will utilize the port of Berbera.”

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A tripartite agreement between Ethiopia, DP World and the Somaliland Port Authority signed in Dubai on 01 March 2018 provided DP World with a 51% stake in the Berbera Port, while Ethiopia would have taken 19%, with the 30% to remain under Somaliland’s Port Authority. The agreement also outlined plans for the government of Ethiopia to invest in infrastructure to develop the Berbera Corridor as a trade gateway. But Ethiopia has since lost its stake over what Somaliland said was failure to fulfill the required terms to complete the shareholder deal.

Ethiopia has upped its interest in making use of Berbera Port. In August last year, an Ethiopian delegation led by the transport and logistics minister Alemu Sime traveled to Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, to look at more port options for Ethiopia.

The delegation has met and discussed with the Somaliland government officials about making Berbera Port an additional option for Ethiopian import export trade activities.

Subsequently, in November last year, Alemu Sime said that Ethiopia was negotiating with Somaliland government to secure direct access to seaport. AS

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