Djibouti, Ethiopian logistics leaders meet to improve sector

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A delegation comprised of top leaders in the Ethiopian logistics sector visited Djibouti for two days, between August 15 and 17, where they observed operations and discussed improvements they wanted their Djiboutian counterparts to focus on.
Several areas of concern were addressed during the meeting which took place in the conference room of the Doraleh Multipurpose Port (DMP).
“There are some challenges with the port service that have to be improved,” Eshetie Assfaw, State Minister of Transport said. “We have also agreed on developing logistical standards so that they resemble other countries. In addition, new technology is expected to be applied to port services as per our agreement with the leaders of the logistics sector in Djibouti to modernize the service.”
They also reviewed the additional capabilities deployed this year by DMP to best meet the needs of neighboring countries, primarily Ethiopia, according the information Capital obtained from the Djibouti side. This included improving services to accelerate the operation and connecting the railway line with the port at Doraleh and using modern technologies in the operation.
The Ethiopian delegation also talked about linking the railway line from DMP to the main line. Eshetie stated that the two sides agreed to conclude the line, which is about one kilometer, until September. When the line is connected it will be easy for Ethiopia to take the bulk and other cargos from the port directly to Ethiopia within a short period as opposed to stranding cargos at the port for several days, which would likely mean additional demurrage costs, according to Eshetie.
“In DMP, we will have five loading lines for the trains,” Mohamed Aref Mohamed, Head of the Marketing Department of DPFZA, told Capital.
He added that the railway feasibility study mentioned 20 freight trains per day, now there are two trains per day but the market needs at least 10 trains. “From both sides, all the necessary improvements are being undertaken,” he said.
The delegation met with the Ethiopian transport associations’ representative in Djibouti, who was experiencing some problems which they agreed to solve.
The Ethiopian delegation members also visited the Doraleh Container Terminal (DCT).
On February 22, 2018 Djibouti took the management from DP World they also took over the Horizon Djibouti Oil Terminal. According to statements from the Djibouti side, during the visit to DCT, which is already in the final stages of connecting with the railway line, the management said productivity had increased since February 22.
“They learned that three loading lines connecting DCT to the road are in the process of being finalized. The capacity of these future loading lines will be 106 containers per train,” a spokesperson told Capital.
According to sources in Djibouti, the delegation wanted the oil terminal, which is also located at Doraleh, connected to the railway.
The two parties also had discussions on various lines of partnership between the management of DMP and the entities in charge of logistics in Ethiopia.
Djibouti will continue to be a major hub for Ethiopia as Ethiopia expands its port access in the region. The nation is the major port outlet for Ethiopia with up to a 95 percent share of cargo services. The two countries have undertaken several projects including an electrified railway. Ethiopia has 75 shares, while Djibouti owns the balance. According to the project design the line has to be connected at major ports in Djibouti especially the Doraleh Multipurpose Port, the biggest port facility in the region.
The recently appointed State Minister said that they have talked about Ethiopia’s latest move to expand port services across the region. “Djibouti says they are not disappointed or worried about our move, and they want to do business as a business model,” he told Capital.
He went on to say that even though Ethiopia is aggressively looking for more ports it is obvious that Djibouti will continue as the major hub for Ethiopia since the country is equipped with modern port infrastructure and a railway line. “We have expressed our stand and they are also delighted,” he added.
“The government’s intention with Eritrea is not to accesses ports. It is beyond that. It has to do with  the historical relation between the two brotherly nations,” Eshetie emphasized.
A week ago Mohamed Aref Mohamed, Head of the Marketing Department of DPFZA, told Capital that Djibouti welcomes free and fair competition. He said that for the last three decades, Djibouti has been a trans- shipment hub for the Red Sea and East African ports, and continues to be more than ever. “We are linking countries to one of the busiest maritime trade routes in the world,” he said.
“Indeed, our infrastructure capacity is far larger than Djibouti and Ethiopia’s external trade. Our relationship with Ethiopia is of vital importance but Djibouti’s facilities are strategic for the whole region. Our ports are designed to be a transshipment hub and have sufficient capacity volume to service Mombasa, Dar es Salaam, Durban, Sudan, Aden, Berbera and Massawa, which have served for many decades (is not a new business),” he added.
The delegation was led by Eshetie Assfaw, State Minister of Transport (MoT). Hiwot Mosisa, State Minister of MoT, Araya Girmay, State Minister of MoT, Abdissa Yadeta, Director General of the Federal Transport Authority, Mekonnen Abera Director General of the Ethiopian Maritime Affairs Authority, Roba Megerssa, CEO of Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Services Enterprise, and Tilahun Sarka (Eng), CEO of Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway Share Company took part in the talks.
They met with Aboubaker Omar Hadi, Chairman of Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority, Saad Omar Guelleh, Managing Director of Djibouti Port Corporation (PDSA), Wahib Daher Aden, Executive Director of DMP, and several other managers.