Somalilandsun – French company Bollore Africa Logistics is to invest €500-million in the Somaliland port of Berbera, a crucial lifeline for landlocked Ethiopia.
Berbera, less than 300 kilometres east of the former French colony of Djibouti, faces Yemen on the Gulf of Aden and is the economic capital of Somaliland, a breakaway state more stable than the rest of Somalia.
“Bollore is about to invest €500-million in Berbera port to improve the port and create a new corridor to the hinterland. Ethiopia is very excited about that,” a French diplomat based in Addis Ababa said.
“The project is not completely finalised, but Bollore has a huge presence in West Africa and is interested in East Africa,” the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.
The company is part of a group owned by Vincent Bollore, a leader in West Africa’s ports sector and close friend of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Somalia has the longest coastline on the continent and forms the “horn” of Africa, which juts out into the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden and commands access to some of the world’s busiest maritime trade routes.
Ethiopia has had good relations with the self-proclaimed government of Somaliland and is heavily reliant on the port of Berbera for supplies.
The Bollore group confirmed to AFP in Paris it was interested in the project but did not elaborate further.
“We have not made an offer yet and no amount has been agreed,” a spokesperson said.