UK-headquartered ALS Worldwide Group has expanded its operations to Berbera, Somaliland, where it will have access to DP World’s port facilities and road infrastructure that connects with Ethiopia.
Dale Calkeld, managing director, said: “We have opened our office there, and have now been granted our business license and transport license in Somaliland, in addition to our existing licenses in Ethiopia.” The company expects to offer port handling, fast Customs clearance, and smooth delivery throughout Ethiopia and East Africa.
He explained that DP World and Somaliland have been pursuing the corridor to Ethiopia “heavily” and that a new road – the Wajaale that connects to Addis Ababa – is nearly finished. The development is garnering great interest from shipping lines and logistics companies alike.
Progress at the port area of Berbera has been ongoing for several years, first with the opening of a container terminal during 2021 and then the inauguration of the Berbera Economic Zone (BEZ) earlier this year. DP World said that the port and the BEZ is transforming the area into a major trade hub in the Horn of Africa.
Expansion of the port of Berbera – a multipurpose facility that comprises bulk and breakbulk handling facilities – is expected to facilitate trade equivalent to approximately 27 percent of Somaliland’s GDP and 75 percent of regional trade by 2035.
So far, Berbera Port’s activity has been focused on Somaliland and Somalia, and its operations have not yet reached into Ethiopia because of Customs issues and agreements. The East African neighbor first indicated its plan to take a 19 percent stake in the port back in 2017. After backing away from the deal to investigate alternative options, notably in Eritrea, Ethiopia has come back on board, believing Berbera to be its best option for connectivity.
For Calkeld, the port facilities and its link to Ethiopia are “suitable for everything”, especially in comparison to the poor infrastructure that connects Djibouti to the country.
With its approvals in place, and the support of the Somaliland government, ALS Worldwide is now focusing on mobilizing equipment to Berbera. “We will be on the ground before the end of the month. The office is already there and now it is getting our trucks there to start loading cargo out. It is all systems go.”
In addition to the immediate set-up of operations, ALS Worldwide is also in the process of developing an app to help clients track their cargo. “With the app, it will show the details and photographs of the cargo and is tracked through GPS all the way to where it is going. It will assist us as much as the client to see where the cargo is.” A unique selling point for customers operating in Africa.
Calkeld is optimistic about the potential of Berbera in facilitating trade in East Africa, based on his experience in the region for the past seven years. “We have been across that desert [from Berbera to Ethiopia] hundreds of times and not had one bit of damage. We are in regular contact with the client offering progress reports along the way. We are in good stead to open up and have a smooth operation… soon everyone will follow.
“Somaliland wants to develop and support the region. It wants a corridor and good relationship with Ethiopia. And putting those things together spells a good future.”
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