DP World and the Government of Somaliland have launched the new Berbera Economic Zone (BEZ), which, along with the Port of Berbera, is converting the area into a significant trading hub in the Horn of Africa.

At a special event attended by several hundred guests, His Excellency Muse Bihi Abdi, President of Somaliland, and Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP Global, formally launched the first phase of the BEZ. Representatives from DP World's port and zone investment partner, British International Investment (BII), as well as the UK's Development Financing Institution (DFI) and impact investor, were present.

The launch followed the June 2021 inauguration of the brand-new container terminal at Berbera Port. DP World's ambition for Berbera is to transform it into a commerce hub, capitalizing on its strategic location along one of the world's busiest maritime routes and access to the region's large hinterland, including Ethiopia.

The BEZ is located just 15 km from the port along the Berbera to Wajaale road (Berbera Corridor) that connects to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, which needs multiple sea gateways to meet its trade requirements.

This integrated maritime, logistics and industrial hub will serve the Horn of Africa, a dynamic region with a population of more than 140 million people.

It is based on the highly successful model of DP World’s Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) in Dubai. There will also 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.

The zone is designed to create a business-friendly environment to attract investment and create jobs for Somaliland. It includes a competitive and conducive environment, enabled by a new Special Economic Zone Law, Special Economic Zone Companies Law, fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, along with a one-stop shop for all registration and licensing requirements, modern offices, warehousing and serviced land plots.

Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO, DP World said, “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. 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.”

Muse Bihi Abdi, President, Somaliland said, “This is another proud and historic moment for Somaliland and its people. 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, which will be a key driver of economic growth, achieved through increased trade flows, foreign investment and job creation.”

DP World has already signed an agreement with IFFCO, a major UAE-based food company, to develop a 300,000 square feet edible oil packing plant in the BEZ and a dozen more companies operating across various sectors have already registered.

Liz Lloyd, Chief Impact Officer, British International Investment added, “We are very proud to be part of this important milestone to inaugurate the Berbera Economic Zone, which will provide a vital economic boost to Somaliland and support growth in the broader Horn of Africa region. The overall expansion of the port is expected to improve the quality of life and livelihoods for over a million Somalilanders, increasing the availability and affordability of goods and indirectly supporting over 53,000 jobs locally.”

The Master Plan for the BEZ covers more than 1,200 hectares and will be expanded over time as demand grows. With phase one now open, it offers serviced land plots for the construction of company facilities, 10,000 square metres of pre-built warehouses, build-to-suit facilities, open yard storage, a common user warehouse which DP World will operate to handle customers’ cargo, as well as office space with end-to-end IT services.

The Berbera Port is a multipurpose port with world-class infrastructure, including extensive bulk and breakbulk handling facilities, liquid cargo handling capability and a state-of-the-art container terminal. It 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 today. It also has the capacity to handle 500,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) a year. The terminal also includes a modern container yard with eight rubber tyred gantry cranes (RTGs) and a one-stop service centre.

The Berbera Port is a cornerstone of the economy. As a result of the expansion, it is expected to facilitate trade equivalent to approximately 27% of Somaliland’s GDP and 75% of regional trade by 2035. The BEZ will make trade easier for businesses in Somaliland and also the wider Horn of Africa. This will benefit a variety of sectors including exporters, importers and processors of livestock, agricultural and perishable goods, textiles and construction materials.

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