DJIBOUTI – State of strategic Strength

The rise of the global shipping trade is creating immense opportunities for cargo-handling ports on busy sea routes. Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, is no exception. The country’s service economy is seeing increased growth this year following the government’s corporation agreement with Dubai Ports World, which is investing up to $600 million in a new oil and containers terminal, 11 miles from the existing port in Djibouti’s capital.
As a result, more enterprises are investing in infrastructure projects and free zones across the country, which is fast becoming a regional transportation hub. An American military presence has increased investor confidence as Djibouti promotes its beneficial geostrategic location in combination with its financial and political stability.
In November 2006, Djibouti hosted the annual COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) Summit, and the country was keen to bring the 20 African member nations together in a renewed drive to create economic advancement, ultimately enhancing employment levels and reducing poverty throughout the region.
In this introductory note, His Excellency President Ismael Omar Guelleh outlines his administration’s strategy to strengthen Djibouti’s present and future prospects.
How does one go about locating Djibouti on a world map ?
Neither the size nor the population of our country (23,000 km ? for fewer than one million inhabitants), surrounded as it is by larger countries, sufficiently throws our identity and our specificity into relief. The essence is to be found elsewhere ; it is in our values and culture of peace, which we have maintained since achieving independence in 1977. It is to be found also in the good governance and democratisation of the country, making it possible for the whole body of our fellow-countrymen to hope for a brilliant future.
Lately, when one speaks of Djibouti, the main point is precisely this hope – which is from day to day becoming reality – of a sustainable development based on and upheld by our own resources. And what are our resources ?
Clich ?s and stereotypes have a long life, do they not ?
The ideas, mistaken though it may be, that our country, devoid of raw materials, possesses only a comparative value of mili-tary geostrategy, has long obscured the radiance of our economic development.
Today, the disappearance of ideological and military uncertainties and the phenomenon of commercial globalization are throwing new lights on the assets and potentialities that our nation can offer both to itself and also the rest of the world. And it is here that we come back to the role played by our geography : situated at the crossroads of Asia, the Middle East and Africa, our country lies on one of the world’s geo-commercial axes.
The international community has not been mistaken ; we are proud to place our stability and security at the service of durable liberty within the framework of the war on international terrorism, especially after the tragic events on September 11, 2001.
The authorities of Dubai Ports World and Jebel Ali Free Zone have been equally justified in their confidence ; we are very satisfied to have entered into a strategic commercial partnership with Dubai. In this context, the mega-project of Doraleh Port, with its Oil Terminal, its Container Terminal and its Free Zone, will ultimately make Djibouti a commercial base for the whole region and even beyond. Our country is a leading force in regional economic integration, which will allow the Horn of Africa to occupy an important position in an increasingly globalisation market.
The COMESA Summit, which we had hosted on November 2006, corresponds perfectly with this ambition. That is why we say to all of those investors who do not want to miss this opportunity : Welcome ! Here with us, you will find all the right conditions and all of the facilities for conducting business in complete security.
Ismael Omar Guelleh President of the Republic of Djibouti
Copyright photos : WHIB