Dubai is extending its ports and terminals empire globally through a new company specialising in multi-purpose ports. Dubai’s Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation (PCFC) last week revived the P&O Ports name with a view to starting operations in Madagascar, Somaliland and Albania.
PCFC chairman HE Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem said in a statement on Wednesday (25 March) that P&O Ports had signed memoranda of understanding to begin discussions with the three governments “to enhance their port infrastructure”. Bin Sulayem added, “The new company’s name, P&O Ports, reflects a rich marine heritage.”
Arif Obaid Al Dehail has been appointed chairman and Hassan Hadi formerly DP World senior vice-president of research and development is P&O Ports’ CEO.
The new company will specialise in developing and operating seaports and inland ports, particularly in emerging economies. Explaining its rationale for the move, PCFC stated, “These brownfield ports, predominantly handling general cargo and bulk commodities, are a source of great opportunity, but tend to be uneconomic for larger operators. P&O Ports, as a newly created, specialised company, provides the flexibility to compete more efficiently within this sector.”
P&O Ports did not specify the locations of the proposed ports in Albania and Madagascar, but in Somaliland the focus is on Berbera.
The port of Berbera is strategically located on the south side of the Gulf of Aden and is close to populous, landlocked Ethiopia, but it lacks modern handling equipment. Somaliland has found it difficult to attract major international finance because few countries have recognised it as a separate state since it unilaterally declared independence from the Republic of Somalia in 1991.
The port currently has a 620 m quay with 11.5-12 m depth alongside and a small oil and gas terminal. Sheep, goats, cattle and other livestock form the bulk of the port’s export trade, while inbound traffic chiefly comprises construction materials, vehicles and fuel, rice, sugar and other foodstuffs.
In December 2013 Bolloré Africa Logistics announced that it was in talks with the Somaliland government to expand the port. According to Somaliland Press last month, the Berbera Development Company has been charged with turning the port into a regional hub, including development of the ‘Berbera Corridor’ into Ethiopia. However, the deal has been criticised locally as lacking transparency.