Djibouti has commissioned a $3.5 billion free-trade zone to be built by the Chinese government, furthering deepening the ties between the horn of Africa nation with a population of 876,000 with the Asian giant, a facility that will help in job creation especially among its youths.
Already playing host to Chinese, French and American military bases and serve as the port of entry of up to 95 percent of imported goods by Ethiopia, which has no sea-port of its own and a population of approximately 99 million inhabitants.
The free trade facility and one of several new ports is being developed by Djibouti and built by a Chinese subsidiary company called Dalian Port Corporation. It covers some 48 square kilometers. The free trade zone will be operated jointly by Djibouti ports, Free Zone Authority and China’s Merchants Holdings Company.
Expected to house warehouse facilities, manufacturing houses, and an export-processing unit together with a service center, some $ 7 billion worth of trade is estimated to be handled by the trade zone within a 2-year period. Creating some 15,000 jobs upon its completion.
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti said ”It is a zone of hope for thousands of young jobseekers” in the presence of dignitaries such as presidents of Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed.
The signed was signed since March 2016 to build the free trade zone. Conceived as part of China’s ”One Belt, One Road” initiative. A bid by the world’s second-largest economy to expand its trading routes by using infrastructural development as an incentive stretching across 60 different countries.
Already handling most of the imports from Ethiopia, the tiny country harbors the aspiration to be the gateway to Somalia, South Sudan, and the Great Lake region.
BaretaNews Foreign Correspondent/Analyst