Djibouti fiddles amid the scramble for the Red Sea

Today’s large-scale infrastructures that link African countries to each other and to the outside world are imbricated in colonial relations of power. Colonialism itself can be read as an infrastructure projectspeeding up, directing, and controlling movement to, from, and within Africa.

Djibouti: A Nodal Hub in Search of a Role Model

Djibouti city and port

Since independence, the development of Djibouti has relied on its port and its location at the Red Sea corridor. The country’s geostrategic position, and its reliance on foreign investments to develop its infrastructure, continues to draw the country into the centre of international power politics.

Bossaso Port: Optimising port activities and transforming circulations

Bosasso Port

Bosaso port is located on the shores of the Gulf of Aden. It is the main seaport of the Puntland State of Somalia, the north-eastern and oldest of the member states of the Federal Republic of Somalia. A 750 km long tarmac road links the port to Galkayo, a town at the southern border of Puntland that connects Bosasso to the central and southern parts of Somalia facilitating the circulation of goods and people. Bosaso port is one of the main hubs for import and export trading activities in Somalia.  Most imported goods, including cars, electronics, building materials and food, are re-exported from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), followed by Oman, and Yemen. Exports, mainly livestock (goats, sheep, camels) and livestock-related goods (hides, skins), go to Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, and Yemen.

Berbera Port: Dilemmas of Infrastructural Development

berbera port. Image taken from the beach with shipping in the background at sea

Berbera is the main port city of the Republic of Somaliland. Straddling the geopolitically relevant Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, the port is a site of both national and international power plays.  Over the centuries, the port has attracted the interest of competing powers, including the Ottoman Empire, Egypt, Great Britain, the USSR, the United States, and more recently the United Arab Emirates. The city of Berbera hosts several key businesses and infrastructural nodes, including the Berbera cement factory, Berbera oil reservoirs, and one of the longest airstrips in Africa. Despite the competition among international and sub-national powers for control of the seaport, the city’s major infrastructures remain underdeveloped. Many citizens do not have access to energy grids, and electricity is unaffordable for many. Major roads in the city are not paved and lack proper rainwater drainage, regularly causing flooding. The road networks connecting Berbera, Hargeisa, and Burao remain in poor conditions.