A motivating factor

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Abdillahi Adawe Sigad (Photo: Anteneh Aklilu)

Despite a challenging environment, after 3 years of hard work, SGTD (Société de Gestion du Terminal à conteneur de Doraleh) Doraleh Container Terminal team achieved the Africa best performing Container Terminal – according to Container Port Performance Index (CPPI) review compiled by the World Bank and America-British firm, IHS Markit. In regards to the achievement and other issues Capital talked to Abdillahi Adawe Sigad, Chief Executive Officer of SGTD to highlight their achievement and their future plan. Excerpts;

Capital: Can you tell us about the recent ranking of ports by World Bank and Markit Report?
Abdillahi Adawe Sigad: This report was compiled by the transport and logistics division of the World Bank which is a well-recognized institution and the IHS Markit, which is a firm from Great Britain which combines information, analytics and expertise to provide solutions for business, finance and government. This report has a governing indicator from the world bank called CPPI meaning Container Port Performance Index and the aim of this index is to rank the different container terminals in the world. This report in its latest version ranked Djibouti first in Africa and to this end we are quite happy for our country and for our tea. We also thank our customers (Djibouti and Ethiopian) and other pertinent stakeholders of our operations: Djibouti Ports & Free Zone Authority, ESLSE, EMAA, Freight Forwarders Associations (Djibouti & Ethiopia), Customs (Djibouti & Ethiopia) who have played a measurable role on this performance.
The performance indicator (CPPI) is measured according to two different approaches. One is the administrative approach and the other is the statistical approach. For the administrative approach, the IHS and World Bank division of logistic and transport division basically interviewed the maritime and logistic professionals working with Djibouti port with regards to the efficiency of SGTD Doraleh Container Terminal. And on the statistical approach assessed the Terminal performance by encompassing and benchmarking the operational performance data versus other terminals..
Thus, this report combined two approaches which eventually ranked Djibouti first in Africa. This is a very good achievement for Djibouti and also for the customers of the Djibouti port. Furthermore, to all Ethio-Djibouti customers and all the stakeholders it’s a motivating factor to be the leader in Africa and to compete in a global level.

Capital: How was the port handling performance?
Abdillahi Adawe: I would say its performance is top notch and the first in Africa. What we can evidently see is that, our port has high efficiency in the port loading and un loading process, because this is the measure of the performance index. In Djibouti port, has a performance of 75-80 containers moves per hour per vessel. The average in most of the African ports is 40. We are really looking forward to surpass our current efficiency by reaching to a level of 100 containers in order to attract more shipment and more international trans-shipment to Djibouti. Because we have the capacity and the performance to achieve it, we believe this performance will increase the trust of our existing customers and also attract more international customers which in return will benefit our traditional customers such as Ethiopia and Djibouti, because when we build more value to the port it makes the port less costly for the traditional customers.

Capital: Who will be your customers when the trans-shipment increases?
Abdillahi Adawe: There are two types of customer who we are always looking forward to serving in our transits; one is the East Africa and the red see customers, which include Ethiopia and beyond such as South Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, Yemen, and also Saudi Arabia, thus these are referred to as our regional customers since they are closest to us. On the other hand, we have more volume which can come from the East West traffic, which is the major consumption areas which includes Asia and Europe. Since we are in the middle of that big areas of traffic, there is a possibility to have some transshipment of these customers as part of our business.
For the Transshipment segment, we want to compete with other ports on the other side of the Red Sea and the Middle East in order to be the on the transshipment port for the East-West traffic.
For the hinterland segment, we want to reach landlocked country beyond Ethiopia – such as South Soudan, Ouganda, East DRC,… This will also benefit Ethiopia; if for example we have customers in South Sudan, their containers will go from Djibouti port to South Sudan through Ethiopia which can benefit to the Ethiopian economy.

Capital: What’s your view on the railway project that will connect the port to Ethiopia?
Abdillahi Adawe: The rail way project is not in kind a new project since railway company has almost been working for three years now. Having been connected by rail, the SGTD Dolareh container terminal has in-fact been the main user by far of the railway facilities. The container between Dolareh terminal and our counterpart Ethiopian shipping lines Mojo Dy Port are in the heart of the railway today and as a result we load and unload an average of two trains in the terminal but we have a capacity to operate six trains and we are looking forward for the Ethiopian customers to use more the train, because trains are more reliable, faster and easier means to transport goods. Furthermore, the more we use the railway system the lesser time it shall take to pay the debt that facilitated its construction which was contracted by the two countries.

Capital: Have you faced any challenges with regards to using the railway transportation?
Abdillahi Adawe: Actually, we have a harmonious relationship between Ethio-Djibouti railway Company and their sub-contractors, the JV managing currently the operations, as well as, the Ethiopian shipping lines, the main customer of railways transport modal.
The challenge is that, we do not have enough volumes of business despite us knowing that the railway transportation has a potential to pull in big volumes of business. Therefore, we will like to see the EDR and the management company to find more customers in Ethiopia in order to use this asset to a large extent.

Capital: What are the main challenges you are facing form the Ethiopian side, from Ethiopian customers?
Abdillahi Adawe: We don’t have challenges but we are looking into better ways of improving the point of contact since there are many players in this logistics field. For example, we have the ESLSE, EMAA, the Ethiopian customers, the Freight forwarders, transport companies and also customs.
Having a good flow of communication and contact is integral to our successful operations and better service for the customers After inquiring some of our customers we have noted that sometimes there is lack of contact between the port and Ethiopian customers. To this end, we have a project to address such challenges. Within the project we developed, we planned to come here (Ethiopia) and organize a meeting and workshops with Ethiopian customers to extensively discuss with them on the current challenges and the possible way forward in order to improve our contact and communication services.
We want to develop a better communication link for example through the various associations such as the freight forwarders association in order to address any issues that may arise.
We are planning on making assessments on September this year, hoping that the covid situation will be behind us. Thus, in summary we don’t have challenges but we are continuously seeking to improving areas with Ethiopia customers in order to provide more access to information from the port directly to the customers and when customers feel like they are facing a problem, they can directly contact us and we shall duly resolve the problem.

Capital: So, what would you say is the main purpose of your visit here?
Abdillahi Adawe: For my visit here, I intended to share with our customers the performance of our terminals and to also announce that we are planning to extend our service of communication by inviting some of the customers to Djibouti and similarly for us to come in Addis and in other economy areas in Ethiopia and share insights and information of our operations with the customers. Of course, during my visit, I will also meet with customers, freight forwarders and our major customer, the Ethiopian Shipping and Logistic Enterprise.
I would like to extent my gratitude and thanks to the Ethiopian customers, in particular ESLSE for their support and suggestions and also for challenging us in performance. It is through this support and performance suggestions, that we are able to enhance the efficiency of our port.