Somaliland to contract French firm in running of major port
HARGEISA (Somalilandpress) — Somaliland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Abdillahi Mohamed Dualeh has stated that his administration was going to hand over the Berbera port to a French company in an effort to modernise the deep-water facility in the red sea to meet modern demands in the region.
Representatives from France’s ”Bolloré Africa Logistics” have been holding talks with senior Somaliland leaders, including the president in the last days.
Speaking to reporters in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa on Friday, Mr Duale said talks between Bolloré and Somaliland officials were in “advanced stages”.
“The organization has promised to invest in the port and manage it. We expect the talks between the organization and Somaliland officials to be successfully concluded,” Dualeh said.
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Sources in the government told Somalilandpress that the talks have successfully ended after more days of talks. “After days of discussions, the contract talks ended and the French firm will take over the Berbera port” the source, who wished not to be named. Bolloré held separate talks with Ethiopian officials as well including prime minister, Meles Zenawi.
The Berbera port was the second largest in the former Somali Republic after Mogadishu, but is now days it’s Somaliland’s prime source of currency owner, contributing 75 per cent of Somaliland’s $50 million annual revenue. Bolloré Africa Logistics is expected to take over the Berbera port with an investment worth $700 million.
This is the first major investment Somaliland has attracted since declaring independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991. Bolloré, which deals in maritime freight and African trade is controlled by Vincent Bolloré and is worth an estimated $1.7 billion.
The deal is expected to boost trades between Somaliland and Ethiopia’s 80 million population, whose expected to top 100 million people by 2020. The port currently handles food aid and other cargo bound for landlocked Ethiopia.
Berbera, at the mouth of the red sea, is strategically located on the oil route and is ideal location for connecting Africa’s growing markets to the Middle East, Asia and Europe via the Suez Canal. Berbera port has 12-metre deep-water facility that was completed in 1969 by Russian engineers at a cost of $5.6 million.
In 1984, a US-based construction company, MWK International, was given 27 months contract worth $35 million that expanded and refurbish the port and airfield, which was already the longest runway in Africa. An American firm also refurbished the five 25000 barrel fuel tanks and pipelines. The fuel storage tanks are currently managed by a French company, Total.
[googleMap name="Berbera, Somaliland" description="Berbera has the longest runway in Africa built by Russia and USA for space shuttle emergencies." width="400" height="400" mousewheel="false" zoompancontrol="false" typecontrol="false" directions_to="false"]Berbera[/googleMap]
By Abdinasir Mohamed