DP World Inaugurates New Container Terminal at Berbera

Image courtesy DP World

Published Jun 28, 2021 1:45 PM by The Maritime Executive

Dubai-based ports operator DP World has officially opened its upgraded container terminal at Berbera, the main seaport in the quasi-independent Somali province of Somaliland. 

The new Gulf of Aden terminal has a deep draft alongside of 55 feet, a 1,300-foot quay and three ship to shore (STS) gantry cranes, and it is set up to handle the largest container vessels in operation today. It will increase the port’s container handling capacity from current 150,000 TEU per year to 500,000 TEU. The terminal also includes a modern container yard with eight RTGs for stacking.

DP World confirmed that it is investing in a far larger phase two expansion of the port. Work is already under way to expand the quay to 3,300 feet in length, giving Berbera enough space for 10 STS cranes and multiple large boxships.

"This is a proud and historic moment for Somaliland and its people, as the completion of the first phase has made our vision of establishing Berbera with its strategic location into a major trade hub in the region a reality. With the new terminal, along with the second phase of expansion and economic zone along the Berbera corridor, we are now firmly positioned to further develop and grow our economy through increased trade, attracting foreign direct investment and creating jobs," said Muse Bihi Abdi, President of Somaliland.

DP World is also developing a special economic zone adjacent to the port modeled on the Jebel Ali Free Zone in Dubai. It is located along the Berbera Corridor road project, which will connect the port with the Ethiopian border. Ethiopia's well-developed but landlocked economy is expected to underpin Berbera's growth in the years ahead, and the Ethiopian government holds a 19 percent stake in the port project. 

The new road has support from Dubai's government economic development fund and the UK Department for International Development (DFID); DP World and its project partners are investing up to $1 billion more in logistics facilities sited along the trade corridor, from dry ports and warehouses to reefer depots. The road should be completed by the end of 2021, and an additional truck bypass highway around the Somaliland capital of Hargeisa should be finished next year.

Berbera will compete head-to-head with the Port of Djibouti's Doraleh Container Terminal (DCT) for business from the Ethiopian market. Djibouti's government unilaterally terminated DP World's long term lease to run DCT in 2018, and though DP World has won a succession of six international arbitral cases in an attempt to recoup its investment, Djibouti has declined to pay. 

Doraleh handled about 1.1 million TEU in 2020, an increase of 30 percent over 2019, despite the impact of the global pandemic. It was the highest growth rate recorded at an African port for the year.