President Ismail Omar Guelleh meets with Emir of Qatar and businessmen to invest in Djibouti
Doha, Qatar (Agencies + DIPLOMAT.SO) – The Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani held official talks with Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh at the Emiri Diwan on Monday.
The session of talks was attended by HH the Deputy Emir Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad al-Thani and a number of ministers.
On the Djibouti side it was attended by members of the delegation accompanying the country’s president.
During the official talks session, the two sides discussed bilateral relations between Qatar and Djibouti and ways of enhancing them in various fields.
They also exchanged views on the latest regional and international developments of mutual concern, particularly the situation in Yemen.
Later the Emir hosted a luncheon banquet in honour of President Ismail Omar Guelleh and his accompanying delegation. Earlier on arrival at the Emiri Diwan the Djibouti president was accorded an official reception ceremony.
Ongoing effort to promote investment in Djibouti
Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh called on Qatari businessmen to seize the available investment opportunities in his country.
Djibouti, currently investing in massive development infrastructure projects such as marine ports, airports and railway stations that will link the country to Ethiopia.
Another key advantage of Djibouti is that is currency is pegged to the US Dollar. This facilitates the entry and exit of currency, he stated.
Djibouti is located in a strategic area in the horn of Africa. This makes it the meeting point for all continents. Guelleh said that Djibouti was the only waterway to Ethiopia.
The country’s waterway serves 18 other African countries with a population of 400 million people, the President said.
Earlier, talking to the media Qatar Chamber (QC) Vice-Chairman) Mohammed bin Ahmed bin Tawar Al Kuwari said the Chamber and its Djiboutian counterpart are set to establish a business council to explore and facilitate investment opportunities in various promising industries, including power, tourism, and other services sectors of the Djiboutian economy.
“Currently we are negotiating with the authorities concerned from Djibouti, including its Ambassador to Qatar (Moumin Hassan Barreh),Al Kuwari told The Peninsula.
Al Kuwari, speaking to the media after his meeting with the visiting President, said: “We just met the President and his accompanying delegation. We are also working on a draft agreement for a Memorandum of Understanding to be signed between the two chambers aiming to enhance bilateral trade and investments.”
He said that Djibouti is geographically located at a very strategic place providing access to 10 landlocked countries that do not have any seaports and rely on Djiboutian ports for imports and exports. The Qatari side is also planning to organise seminars for private businesses highlighting various opportunities of investments in the Horn of Africa economy.
Commenting about the challenges, he said:” Although Djibouti has a lot of investment opportunities such as the seaport , tourism, hotels, harbour management and other services. However, it needs to carry out more reforms in its laws and regulatory framework complying with international standards and practices to encourage private investments.”
Aboubaker Omar Hadi, a senior member of the Djiboutian President’s accompanying official delegation, said: “We have recently passed some laws to invite independent power producers. With the new law, foreign companies can come and invest in power plants of 100 megawatts (MW) for generating electricity using clean energy such as gas, wind solar and geothermal.”
Hadi added: “The power demand in the Djiboutian economy is going to increase very significantly as it is developing a huge ‘Free Economic Zone’ spread over an area of 48 square kilometres. It will require about 3,700MW of electricity.”
He said that in addition to the free zone, which itself provides a lot investment opportunities, the country is building two airports and several seaports offering huge opportunities to investors. “We are planning to build more ports to meet the growing demand. Currently, we have four ports under construction in addition to the three already operational.”
He noted that the level of Qatari investment in Djibouti many not be very high but it is going to grow at a faster pace because both the economies are complementary to each other. He also said: “This was the first direct meeting of our President with Qatar Chamber. He is very keen to encouraging Qatari business community to invest in the various promising sectors of the Djiboutian economy.”
Meanwhile, Air Djibouti, the national carrier of The Republic of Djibouti is to start three daily services of the Djiboutian airline to Qatar from next month, said a top official of the carrier.
The airline is negotiating with Qatar Airways, the official operator of of Hamad International Airport.
“We are discussing to cooperate with Qatar Airways to begin with three daily services of Air Djibouti to Qatar, which is expected to start from next month. Once we start flying, this will take the combined weekly frequencies between Qatar and Djibouti to six, including the currently three weakly services of Qatar Airways,” said Aboubaker Omar Hadi, Chairman of Air Djibouti.
Hadi, who is also a senior member of the visiting President’s official delegation, said that Djibouti may not be a very big economy (in terms of GDP and population) but it is a gateway to over 10 big economies in Africa.