Since its creation, the port of Djibouti is one of the important and
largest port in the region, Gateway to the Suez Canal, the Red Sea and the
Indian Ocean. It is the main gateway for Ethiopia, East Africa’s largest economy, to the Indian Ocean
Djibouti port was competing with the Somali port of Berbera and Port Sudan
on Red Sea for Ethiopia’s foreign trade but after the Addis Ababa railway entered
is operational, the Djibouti Port won the competition and 85% of goods bound to and from Ethiopia is handled
by the port of Djibouti. Thus, the port of Djibouti is tightly influenced by
Ethiopian Economy; over the past 10 years, Ethiopia’s economic growth rate has
been averaging more than 10% which has increased throughput at Djibouti from
1.5 million tonnes in 2010 to 5 million in 2014. As a consequence, the Djibouti
government make future plan for its economy on its relationship with Ethiopia
and with South Sudan as a potentially important partner in the future. To meet increasing
demand due to fast growing economies of the region, the Djibouti government
launched the Djibouti 2035 national plan which aim for the development of a
special logistics zone and transport infrastructures.
On its own, the main port has a capacity of
only 350,000 teu, and cannot handle ships of more than 8,000 teu capacity far
below supersized shipping industry thus the major investment of recent years was
construction of the Doraleh container terminal. Opened in February 2009, it is operated
a joint venture between Dubai World and China Merchant Holding International
(CMHI), it is considered to be “the most technologically advanced in the
African continent” due to its wide and sophisticated facilities ( cranage, eight
quay cranes capable of dealing with Super Post Panamax class vessels: these can
shift 50 tonnes in a single lift, 80 tonnes under hook and have an outreach of
65m) and computerised system to automate
logistics, tracking and payment.
In 2016, the port and rail system attracted
$2bn in foreign investement, mostly from China and Turkey, making Djibouti the
country with the most effective rail-and-port system in all Africa’s East
region, from Suez to Durban.
A $590m are being invested by DP World and
CMHI in order to expand its capacity and convert it into the Doraleh
Multi-Purpose Port by adding 23ha (15 berths) to the container terminal and
other facilities for handling general and breakbulk cargo, as well as coal and
Upon completion of these infrastructure projects,
the total container handling capacity of Djibouti will be of 2 million teu.
Though there is much to do to meet Singapore’s
32 million teu capacity, the challenge of this development is to make Djibouti
the Singapore of Africa.