DP World says Djibouti incident could hurt Africa investment

Djibouti abruptly ended DP World’s contract to run the Doraleh Container Terminal last month



Port operator DP World said on Thursday that Djibouti’s decision to seize control of a terminal project could hurt African efforts to attract investment.

The Dubai state-owned port operator is facing twin political challenges in Africa.

Djibouti abruptly ended its contract to run the Doraleh Container Terminal last month and Somalia’s parliament voted this week to ban the company.

DP World has called the Djibouti move illegal and said it had begun proceedings before the London Court of International Arbitration, which last year cleared the company of all charges of misconduct over the concession.

“Africa needs infrastructure investments and if countries can change their law [to take assets then this] is going to basically make it more difficult to attract investment,” chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem told a news conference in Dubai.

DP World reported 14.9 per cent rise in 2017 profit to $1.18bn profit and said that it would invest $1.4bn across its global portfolio including in Berbera in Somaliland.

Read: Dubai’s DP World to spend more after 14.9% 2017 profit rise

It is developing a port in Berbera in partnership with the governments of Somaliland and Ethiopia. It is also developing a greenfield free trade zone in the breakaway region.

Bin Sulayem said he was not concerned by the vote in Somalia’s parliament to ban DP World from the country, which the parliament said nullified their Somaliland contract.

Read: Djibouti says port will remain in state hands after ending DP World deal

It is unclear how Somalia’s federal government could enforce the ban given Somaliland’s semi-autonomous status.

Europe, the Middle East and Africa accounted for about 42 per cent of the cargo DP World handled in 2017.