Aiming to create a business-friendly environment to attract investment and create jobs for Somaliland

DP World and the Government of Somaliland have inaugurated the new Berbera Economic Zone (BEZ), which along with the Port of Berbera, is transforming the area into a major trade hub in the Horn of Africa.

The first phase of the BEZ was officially opened by His Excellency Muse Bihi Abdi, President of Somaliland, and Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World, at a special event attended by several hundred guests. These included representatives from DP World’s investment partner in the port and zone, British International Investment (BII), the UK’s Development Finance Institution (DFI) and impact investor.

The opening followed the inauguration of the 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.

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.

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.

Speaking at the event, His Excellency Muse Bihi Abdi, President of 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.”

Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of 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.”

Liz Lloyd, Chief Impact Officer of 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 metre, a quay of 400 metre 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.