Bona fide partnership between Djibouti, Ethiopia prosper logistics

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(Photo: Anteneh Aklilu)

The logistics handling and cooperation between actors in Ethiopia and Djibouti is stated to be growing every year as tremendous performances in the sector continue to be realized.
Ethiopia for close to a quarter century has been benefiting from Djibouti as its sea outlet. Djibouti on the other end has being growing from strength to strength in order to catch up with the growing demand from Ethiopia, the most populous nation in the world without a sea outlet. Djibouti has developed over the years to bridge Ethiopia’s needs through massive port facilities’ developments courtesy of huge investments.
For instance, the small east African nation was able to attain major scores on the World Bank container port performance index (CPPI) 2021. According to the World Bank report, the Djibouti port has been able to reel in massive improvements which place the country as one of the top performing port operating countries.
So far most of the Ethiopian cargos pass through Djibouti ports, and similarly Djibouti is always expanding its port handling capacity and efficiency.
It is noted that one of the major achievements was the dispatch of huge amounts of fertilizer within a very short period of time, unlike the past.
Djama Ibrahim Darar, CEO Doraleh Multi-purpose Port (DMP), said at the acknowledgement event held a week ago in Addis Ababa that the port is working tirelessly to be efficient.
He said that in the logistics service fast operation and short stay of vessels at the berth is crucial. In order to achieve that, his team is handling the operation throughout the day to discharge consignments to the terminal and dispatch it to the destination.
Roba Megersa, CEO of Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Services Enterprise (ESLSE), said that the port operations in Djibouti is recording improvements every time.
“Prior to 2019/20 season the port performance was not that much amplifiable, meanwhile the volume of fertilizer was lesser than current amounts,” he recalled with regards to the coming of fertilizer consignment.

(Photo: Anteneh Aklilu)

“One of the reasons for that was that the arrival of vessels was not harmonized and limited efficiency of the port like equipments and silo; so to some extent we have been using other ports like Port Sudan and Berbera,” he remembered.
“Previously, we were served at SDTV, the oldest facility, and now the come up of DMP, newly built and ultra-modern port, has created changes and has shown improvements every year,” Roba added.
“Most of all, Djibouti’s cargo handling in terms of container and bulk is more modern than any other port around the area including ICT with up and running machineries at the facility. The operation is also mostly controlled by Djiboutian leadership with minimal Chinese support,” the CEO said, adding, “At the current stage, I am happy of the partnership with Djibouti ports; they are highly responsive and starting from planning, we are working coordinately. I don’t expect better partnerships than this from our neighborhood partners, because this solid partnership is top tier.”
“We are working as a unit with Ethiopian partners and we have similar goals of focus. In the logistics business time is very important, so our team is working with that concept; that is why we discharge more than 20, 000 metric tons of cargo in a single day,” Djama Ibrahim Darar told Capital.
“We want to assure the efficiency at the port so we will keep working hard to handle vessels at the berth on time and deliver the cargo with trucks and train on time to Ethiopia,” the DMP CEO said.

(Photo: Anteneh Aklilu)

Roba told Capital that unlike the industry practice, the two sides are working informally, “they understand us and it is the same for us. For instance sometimes we delay payments and they understand it. Similarly, when equipment failure happens at the site, we understand them.”
According to the CEO, in terms of vessels handling, cargo loading shall be very fast in high end ports like China and elsewhere than discharging.
“As far as my experience, high volume of discharge is happening at DMP unlike the trend in other ports globally. Nearly 20,000 metric tons of fertilizer cargo was discharged through silo at DMP in a day, and similarly 17,500 metric tons was dispatched that means 490 trucks of cargo to Ethiopia,” he said.
He added that the port has enabled to manage the staffing of 37 wagons of a train manually in a single day, “There is no measurement for such kinds of huge success.”
The working culture at the port is also very impressive since they serve customers 24 hours a day, “this is not the same in Ethiopia.”
“The harbor master and the CEO of the port and his team are very responsive, which accelerate the corridor operation and ESLSE’s activity,” Roba highlighted.
According to Roba, in a high season, the number of trucks on a daily fleet from Djibouti to Ethiopia is 1,500 trucks which is mainly loaded with container and fertilizer consignments, and sometimes wheat and coal.
“In the past at any given time you may see 300,000 tons of steel at the port and open yard that is now not more than 10, 000 tons,” he expressed how the port efficiency is uplifting very time.

(Photo: Anteneh Aklilu)

“In my understanding Djibouti alone is very ample to managing Ethiopian cargo. When it comes for the time that Ethiopia uses other ports, it will be for additional capacity rather than alternative,” he said, adding, “In case of geographical proximity, Berbera and Lamu ports shall be used by Ethiopia.”
“Both the leadership at the two countries has close relation on the day to day activity of DMP and ESLSE. So we are happy to deliver the very crucial cargo to our Ethiopian farmers on time,” Djama Ibrahim Darar concluded.
For the CPPI 2021, the east African logistics hub registered dramatic improvements coming in at 19th and 24th positions in administrative and statistical approaches respectively.
Djibouti currently operates the modern Doraleh Container Terminal Management Company (SGTD), while its other multiple port facilities are also handling containerized cargos.