DP World now has an extended presence in Africa. It's Somaliland base connects to a region of 140 million people. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: DP World has started operations at the Berbera Economic Zone (BEZ) in Somaliland, which with the Port of Berbera could transform the area into a key trade hub in the Horn of Africa, a region with 140 million people.

The zone is located 15 kilometres from the port along the Berbera-to-Wajaale road (Berbera Corridor) that connects to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, and which ‘needs multiple sea gateways to meet its trade requirements’.

The latest opening follows that of a new container terminal at Berbera Port in June 2021. “DP World’s vision for Berbera is to develop it into a trade hub, taking advantage of its strategic location along one of the busiest sea routes in the world and access to the vast hinterland in the region, including Ethiopia,” said a statement.

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DP World already has an agreement with IFFCO, a major UAE-based food company, to develop a 300,000 square feet edible oil packing plant in the BEZ.

“The dynamics of global trade are changing, and there is a growing need for trade infrastructure, such as economic zones, with easy and fast access to international shipping,” said Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World. “These will bring companies closer to their customers, improve their logistics and allow them to expand into new markets.

“The integration of Berbera port with the new Economic Zone is a great example of this, making Berbera a world-class trading ecosystem, now and for the future.”

The Somaliland free zone is based on the model operated by Jebel Ali Free Zone in Dubai. There will be’ synergies’ between the two zones, where companies in Dubai can register for Berbera through the JAFZA one-stop shop, while companies in Berbera can access JAFZA’s incubation centre facilities.

Expand masterplans’s scope

The masterplan for BEZ extends to 1,200 hectares and will be expanded with demand. Phase 1, which is now open, offers serviced land plots for building company facilities, 10,000 square metres of pre-built warehouses, build-to-suit facilities, an open yard storage, a common user warehouse that DP World will operate to handle customer cargo, and an office space.

The Berbera Port has a deep draft of 17 metres, a quay of 400 metres and three ship-to-shore (STS) gantry cranes, which can receive the ‘largest container vessels in operation’. It also has the capacity to handle 500,000 TEUs a year.

As a result of the expansion, the port is expected to facilitate trade equivalent to about 27 per cent of Somaliland’s GDP and 75 per cent of regional trade by 2035.

“After the inauguration of the container terminal at Berbera Port, and now with the economic zone open for business, we are taking a major leap forward in realising our vision to establish Berbera as an integrated, regional trade gateway,” said Muse Bihi Abdi, President of Somaliland.