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Old February 17th, 2018, 10:14 AM   #381
Ras Siyan
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Djibouti, one of Africa's smallest countries, has become China's "strategic partner." The Chinese have built a military base and a port, and is currently constructing a free trade zone, fast establishing it as Beijing's gateway to the continent.

February 08, 2018

A police car appears in a cloud of red dust on the dirt road between the boulders. A young man in uniform opens the window and starts grousing in French. The Chinese men he is rebuking don't understand any of it, but slowly realize where the anger is coming from. They had forgotten to register with the sentry guarding the entrance to the large construction site above the coast.

When the police officer turns away, Nicholas Li says, "Unbelievable, this is my company here!" The company, under the leadership of the China Merchants Group, is currently building Africa's largest free trade zone in Djibouti.

Li, the company's 37-year-old head, kicks rocks from the dirt road. Rules are rules, he says, OK. Then the tour in the SUV over the field of boulders continues. Li has left his driver back at headquarters down in the city, and is driving himself. He likes to have things under control.

Soon the site, where bulldozers with specialized tools are breaking up the rocky ground, will be home to factories, warehouses, office buildings and hotels - a city built from scratch, reaching down to the sea, a 48-square-kilometer invitation to investors from around the world.

Djibouti is one of the smallest countries in Africa, but for several years now, people here have been thinking big. Many are dreaming of creating, with Chinese help, something similar to Singapore and the Gulf States. It may not be easy to make something of this parched land, but there is a true feeling of ambition here, a willingness to take risks and move forward. The Djiboutians are searching for a better life and for a bigger role for themselves in a global society that is in the process of reordering itself.

The country practically serves as a laboratory setting for the global shift in power from the West to the East, and many vivid examples can be seen. Djibouti is more open and willing to experiment than other African countries. And even though Europe and the United States continue to be important for the people here, when they think about their future, it's China that they look to.

The country has witnessed first hand just how quick the Chinese are at turning plans into reality. A new port has already been built on the coast, and the gigantic cranes in Doraleh have become Djibouti landmarks. Meanwhile, the free trade zone Nicholas Li is building up in the rocky land is meant to deliver jobs and prosperity.

In the evening, Li turns on a couple of switches in the entry hall of his headquarters, and tiny lights illuminate a model showing the first construction phase of the free trade zone. Li points to a high-rise next to the eight-lane access road. "A hotel is going in here," he says. The adjacent building is to become the new company headquarters of the consortium. "We are moving in this July." He says. The timeline is tight.

Li has only been in Djibouti for six months. After completing his B.A. in finance, he moved from China to the Welsh city of Cardiff to complete his master's degree. "There were so many Chinese people in my courses, I didn't like it," he says. He attended other seminars to meet international students. He speaks English with a British accent.

The planned free-trade zone that Li is overseeing is important for Djibouti, because its aim is to create jobs for locals. "In a place where 50 foreigners work, 50 of our people should also be able to find jobs," says Mohamed Abdullahi Wais, the secretary general of the presidency and an influential person in the government.

Wais, who studied in France, knows how skeptical Europeans are of large Chinese projects, but he doesn't share their concerns. "We have set up the zone so that it will be modelled after Jabal Ali in Dubai," he says.

In the Gulf, the sheiks' riches literally bubble out of the earth, but Djibouti has neither oil nor any other valuable mineral resources. The land is hot and dry. And up until one or two generations ago, the people here lived as nomads. Goats and camels can still be seen today walking through the capital city.

Location, Location, Location

But Djibouti does have one major commodity. In the real estate industry, they have a mantra for it, too: location, location, location. One of the most trafficked shipping lanes in the world is located right off the country's coast. Dozens of oil tankers and container ships head to the Red Sea every day, bound for the Suez Canal and the ports of Europe.

This strategic location is one of the reasons the Chinese are here with their project managers, bankers and engineers and, most recently, with their army. And although they may only be the latest in a long line of foreign powers to set up quarters in Djibouti, they do think in bigger terms than the others. The tiny country serves as their gateway to Africa.

Those who were here before the Chinese came have also stayed, mostly with their militaries. Countries from three continents have bases south of the capital, including the United States, Japan, Italy and, of course, Djibouti's former colonial rulers, the French. Spanish and German forces are also stationed at the French military's Base Aérienne 188. French still happens to be the most important language in Djibouti.

Almost a million people live here, in a country a little larger in size than the German state of Hesse. They come from different cultures, speak Arabic or the languages of the neighboring countries of Somalia and Ethiopia. Two large population groups were long embroiled in conflict with one another, the Afar from the north and the Issa from the south, but things have been relatively peaceful since the civil war ended in 1994.

Authoritarian President Ismail Omar Guelleh has proven successfully in keeping the country at peace. Guelleh finds the notion of political freedom for all too risky, and he has instead emphasized strictness and stability. In a conflict-filled region, stability is the other resource that Djibouti has to offer. The third is a certain amount of openness to the world. Islam may be the state's official religion, but faith is generally a private matter in Djibouti. Services regularly take place in its Christian churches, and if a woman wants to walk through the streets in jeans and without wearing a headscarf, nobody takes offense to it.

President Guelleh can also afford to distance himself from the Western powers. Although they pay a lot of money for the right to station soldiers, aircraft and drones on Djiboutian soil, they are dependent on Guelleh because of their desire to stay. In an interview last spring with the newsmagazine Jeune Afrique, he said that "the Americans constantly tell us that the Chinese presence is hindering their operations, and the Japanese are even more worried." But he says those concerns are unnecessary.

His dealings with the Chinese tend to be a lot more pleasant. Chinese President Xi Jinping gave Guelleh the highest honor in November, welcoming him to Beijing with all of the pomp of a state visit. Both presidents agreed to a "strategic partnership," although this sounds a little bit odd given that one of the men governs 1,400 times as many people as the other.

Economic Aid or Exploitation?

Still, the use of the term "partnership" sends a political message. When a much bigger state treats a smaller one as a peer, it can be interpreted as a bow -- a bow toward Africa.

The Chinese have faced a lot of criticism since they began securing access to the continent's mineral resources and financing ports, train lines and dams with billions in loans. In Africa, they are often viewed as neo-colonialists, as ruthless business fanatics who think only of themselves.

Alternately, could one instead view these Chinese investments as a particularly efficient form of development aid? The conflict over this question -- carried out between China and the West, but also within Africa itself -- is a heated one. Critics are riled over the conditions under which Chinese loans are often provided -- with little or no interest early on, followed by high interest for many years -- a financial model they argue creates dependency.

Ge Hua is familiar with the accusations. Ge is the Chinese counsellor on trade in Djibouti, an important representative of her country. All civil projects that China is involved in cross her desk. She is there when the contracts are negotiated, she explains Djiboutian positions to officials in Beijing and oversees the implementation of the finalized plans in the country.

Like most foreigners here, she struggles with the heat. The windows of her office are totally darkened. But there's a sincerity when she talks about her fondness for Djibouti. "I told my friends that they need to come here this year," she says. "It is a very beautiful and unique country. Tourism is going to become very important."

Even more important, of course, are the construction projects. In addition to the free trade zone and the port of Doraleh, three cross-border facilities backed by lots of money are also in the works. They will bring Djibouti and Ethiopia, which carries out its international trade almost entirely via the ports of its seaside neighbor, even closer together. The Chinese are handling the development of that infrastructure.

The New Silk Road

The electrified train line connecting the two capitals has been finished for a some time now, though there isn't enough electricity for regular operation over the entire line. The water pipeline from Ethiopia is already functioning, with its final completion approaching, and a gas pipeline is also in the planning stages. From the Chinese perspective, this is all meant to fit into a larger whole: the new Silk Road.

Beijing has been investing in the construction of port facilities, roads, train lines and trade centers in Asia, Africa and Europe under the cumbersome English name, "One Belt, One Road." The goal is to create a tightly interwoven economic zone under Chinese control. One Belt, One Road is, above all else, a geopolitical project.

Djibouti also happens to be located along this new Silk Road. Nicholas Li's headquarters are situated right next to the building of the Silk Road International Bank, founded in 2016. Ge Hua works nearby.

The economic expert emphasizes that "the Chinese government has many financing projects in Djibouti, mainly concessional loan projects." She adds that her country is also making sure that all people involved profit. "It is important that the Djiboutians make good income from the projects so that they will have a better life and are able to repay their debts," she says.

And -- and this absolutely must be mentioned, she says -- there is also a long list of aid projects, including schools, hospitals and sports facilities, that have been financed by China, without any loans. A few days later, an opportunity arises to view the biggest project: Sixty Chinese and 150 Djiboutian workers are building a national archive that will include a public library. A red-and-white sign points out that the construction site has been free of accidents for 355 days. In July 2019, the building is to be handed over to the Djibouti state, including furniture and stacks.

You can talk with Ge about any of these things, just not the military. "That's not part of my job," she says.

Protecting Strategic Interests

Chinese soldiers are very present in the country, despite having holed themselves up behind cement walls. West of the port, the army opened a naval base last summer. It has been the subject of many rumors. It's the first Chinese military facility to be located outside of Asia, and that alone makes it interesting. Officially, it's a logistical support base for the Chinese fleet.

Western military people like to call the imposing facility "Jabba the Hutt's palace," a reference to "Star Wars." The building reportedly has three underground floors and can accommodate up to 10,000 soldiers.

Chinese media regularly report about the new military base. In November, the soldiers marched out for weapon practice, which they held on a drill ground in the middle of the country. Afterward, Beijing's state-run Global Times newspaper reported on the strategic purpose of those drills. "It's natural," the paper stated, "that the Chinese troops stationed in Djibouti must be always prepared for combat." It pointed out that the country had already invested over $100 billion in Africa and that, for this reason, the military was dutybound to "safeguard China's interests in the continent."

With military displays like the ones in Djibouti, China wants to send a double message: One of strength and one of peace. The army is showing what it is capable of. At the same time, the Chinese politicians emphasize at every opportunity that this is merely a question of defense.

Despite these efforts to placate the situation, the Americans are suspicious. They worry that China will soon be an equal not only on an economic, but also on a military level. One of the noteworthy qualities of Djibouti is that the old and the new superpower are closer to one another here than anywhere else on the planet.

Camp Lemonnier, the only permanent U.S. military base on African soil, is located only a few kilometers away from the Chinese fortress. From here, special forces head out on their secretive commando missions, and drones take off to chase terrorists in Somalia or Yemen.

The approximately 4,000 American soldiers live in their camp in ways reminiscent of life on an aircraft carrier, viewing the land around them as an ocean filled with perils. They are only allowed to leave their base with special permission. And ,even then, the capital is mostly classified as a "no-go area."

A 'Key Region'

Originally a French base, the U.S. military took over Camp Lemonnier in 2002, following the 9/11 attacks, after Paris determined it no longer needed the facility. The current French base north of the airport is still expansive. It's a place where you can see soldiers in shorts cycling to stay fit and children on their way to school. The engines of the Mirage fighter jets can regularly be heard as they control the airspace above the capital. Thierry Duquenoÿ, the head of the French armed forces in the country, explains why Djibouti is so important. "For Asia, Africa and Europe, this is a key region," he says. "The Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea don't separate the Arab and Africa sphere so much as they connect them like a zipper."

Even if the size of the personnel has gone down in recent years, he explains, Paris is still convinced of the site's importance. General Duquenoÿ emphasizes that point with a special detail: "I'm the only French commander outside of the country with three stars," he says. He explains that his most important task is to fight terrorism, although he is unable to discuss that issue any further.

It's not only three different nations that come together in tiny Djibouti -- the country also ties together three different eras. They include the period of European hegemony, embodied by the French, its former colonial rulers. Then, secondly, the still powerful American world order, supported by the military. And, thirdly, the future, which has already begun -- the era of the Chinese.

The Germans also have a presence in Djibouti, at least at the periphery. Together with a contingent of the Spanish armed forces, they are stationed at Base Aérienne 188. They are there as part of the European Union's Atalanta mission to protect shipping traffic in the region from pirates. Using a P-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft, the soldiers observe whether anything suspicious is happening along the Somalian coast. Any conspicuous activity gets reported back to Atalanta headquarters.

When the German-owned turboprop aircraft rolls to its takeoff position, one can hear German, English and French on the radio traffic. French jets and American aircraft can be seen to the left and right of the runway.

As the aircraft returns to Djibouti from the northeast, one gets a view of everything beneath -- the Chinese-built port, next to it the country's secretive naval base, the future free-trade zone a bit further inland and then the American and French military bases.

Everything here seems so close together, and yet so far apart.


Nicholas Li stands in front of the model of the free trade zone that is currently under construction in Djibouti. The small African country is the focus of intense international scrutiny. China is currently building large projects there, with the goal of transforming the small country into its gateway to the African continent.


Buses at Djibouti's main bus station. Many people are currently dreaming of turning the country into something like Singapore or the Gulf States, and giving it a more significant role in world affairs. The Chinese have already built a large port in the country, with loading cranes that have become a national symbol.


Chinese construction workers at the entrance to the site for the free trade zone in Djibouti. The country is a part of China's large "One Belt, One Road" initiative, which aims to create a new Silk Road, an economic zone that stretches over Asia and into Europe and Africa.
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Old February 18th, 2018, 08:01 AM   #382
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Old March 12th, 2018, 10:32 AM   #383
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China’s Belt and Road Initiative creates the potential for debt-sustainability problems in some of the world’s weakest economies, according to the Center for Global Development.

The infrastructure project -- aimed at forging new economic links with Europe, Asia and Africa -- puts Djibouti, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, the Maldives, Mongolia, Montenegro, Pakistan, and Tajikistan “at particular risk of debt distress,” researchers at the Washington-based research institute said in a report on Sunday.

“Belt and Road provides something that countries desperately want -- financing for infrastructure,” co-author John Hurley, a visiting policy fellow on leave from the U.S. Treasury Department, said in a statement with the report. “But when it comes to this type of lending, there can be too much of a good thing.”

Financing comes in various forms, including from dedicated institutions such as the Silk Road Fund, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the National Pension Fund. State-owned banks have lent billions of dollars to hundreds of projects in countries where most investors fear to tread.

A Bloomberg News analysis in October showed that of 68 nations China lists as Belt and Road partners, the sovereign debt of 27 was rated as junk, or below investment grade, by the top three international rating firms. Another 14, including Afghanistan, Iran and Syria, were either not rated or have withdrawn their requests for ratings.

The report by Hurley, CGD senior fellow Scott Morris and researcher Gailyn Portelance recommends that China make the Belt and Road Initiative more multilateral and that development bodies like the World Bank work toward a more detailed agreement with Beijing on lending standards for the initiative’s projects, no matter the lender.

Given China’s role as a creditor to developing countries, “there is a case for directing some of these aid dollars in ways that mitigate the risks of commercial lending and better promote the development impact of that lending,” they said.
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Old April 9th, 2018, 03:21 PM   #384
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DJIBOUTI (AP) — Two fighter jets took off and roared over the Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport, a sprawling complex in this tiny African nation that is quickly becoming a strategic military and shipping outpost for the world.

Not far away, a massive U.S. flag waved over transport planes parked in front of America’s only permanent military base in Africa, Camp Lemonnier, home to about 4,000 personnel.

Djibouti, an arid Horn of Africa nation with less than 1 million inhabitants, also has become a military outpost for China, France, Italy and Japan, with that nation’s first overseas base since World War II. Other powers including Saudi Arabia have expressed interest in the key location across the Bab el-Mandeb strait from the Arabian Peninsula and on one of the world’s busiest shipping corridors.

On the chaotic streets of what has been called the “Singapore of Africa,” the jostling between the United States and China for influence is plainly seen.

Before his firing by President Donald Trump, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made a point of stopping in Djibouti on his Africa visit last month and noting its importance in the fight against the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group in neighboring Somalia and the Islamic State group in the region at large. The U.S. carries out drone missions in Somalia and Yemen from Djibouti, but the military paused air operations last week after a jet crashed and a helicopter was damaged during a landing.

China’s first overseas military base, which was manned last year, is just a few miles from the U.S. one. The head of the U.S. Africa Command, Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, earlier this year predicted that “there will be more.”

China’s economic interest is strong as well, with Djibouti borrowing up to $957 million from the Export-Import Bank of China to finance several projects in recent years, according to the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University. The Chinese built a new electrified rail line that links the capital of neighboring Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country and one of its strongest economies, with Djibouti as the nation aims to become a global shipping power.

“We sit on two of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. We are servicing the wider region, including some of the world’s fastest-growing economies,” the chairman of the Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority, Aboubaker Omar Hadi, said in an interview during a recent visit by The Associated Press.

He called Djibouti, a largely Muslim nation, a model of stability in an otherwise volatile region. It is also one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, with the World Bank projecting 7 percent growth this year.

The country made headlines earlier this year when it seized control of a container terminal run by the Dubai-based DP World, one of the world’s largest port operators, in a long-running legal dispute. If China takes over the terminal’s operations, the effects on supplying the U.S. military base could be “significant,” the U.S. Africa Command chief has warned.

That will not happen, Hadi’s office said: “Djibouti has no plan to give Doraleh Container Port to China.” It is now managed by a fully state-owned company controlled by the ports authority, it added.

Djibouti is currently investing $15 billion in local infrastructure projects that connect the region to global trade routes, including the expansion of ports, improved road and rail links and new airports, according to official figures provided to AP.

The country’s ports now have a total handling capacity of 18 million tons per year, officials said, and the new Doraleh Multipurpose Port, a $590 million joint project between the ports authority and China Merchants Port Holdings opened in May last year, is already working at full capacity. It is a separate entity from the Doraleh Container Port.

Now officials are pursuing a new project called the Djibouti International Free Trade Zone, expected to be the largest of its kind in Africa.

“Once complete it will span an area of 4,800 hectares (11,860 acres), following a total investment of more than $3.5 billion,” the ports authority chairman said. The first phase is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

Officials hope the ambitious infrastructure projects will not only raise Djibouti’s global image but also help it pay off significant debts.

During Tillerson’s visit, Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf acknowledged that Djibouti’s debt totals roughly 84 percent of its GDP, most of it to China. “The burden of debt is there, we are aware of it,” he said. “But let me tell you that it is so far manageable.”

One sign of investor confidence is whether China’s commercial banks begin lending to Djibouti as well, said Jyhjong Hwang, senior research assistant at the China-Africa Research Initiative.

Djibouti’s officials anticipate that the demand for their ports will grow as more African nations expand their economies. They also dismissed concerns about a recent deal by DP World, Ethiopia and Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Somaliland to develop and manage the Port of Berbera there, seen by some as another reason for Djibouti’s seizure of the container terminal from DP World.

“Competition will make the region more attractive. East Africa’s economies are growing fast, and there is a clear demand for Djibouti’s infrastructure to support this growth,” the ports authority chairman said.

Djibouti’s residents said local business is booming as a result of the growing international military and shipping interest, despite the country’s unemployment rate of nearly 40 percent, and construction sites and new roads dotted the city. Economic growth has attracted entrepreneurs from India, Yemen, Gulf nations and elsewhere.

“Our company provides a fleet of cars for the army bases and we are really benefiting from it,” said Nour Omar, one of Djibouti’s best-known businessmen and general manager of local import and distribution business BSH Holding. “We aim to expand our services following their demand.”
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Old April 12th, 2018, 09:05 PM   #385
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Rwanda, Ethiopia and Djibouti

Just appeared in Rwandan state media:

http://ktpress.rw/2018/04/rwanda-app...can-countries/

Quote:
Rwanda Approves Trade Deals with Strategic African Countries
by Jean de la Croix Tabaro April 12, 2018 at 5:18 pm

Rwanda has furthered business partnership with three countries that are set to help it deal with trade barriers.

[...]

The first provision is a Draft Law approving the ratification of the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Rwanda and the Government of the Republic of Djibouti concerning the reciprocal promotion and protection of investments, signed in Djibouti, on 18/04/ 2017.

Another is Draft Law approving the ratification of the Trade Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Rwanda and the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 13/08/ 2013.

[...]

Why is the move relevant for Rwanda?

For example in the case of Djibouti, trade agreement between both countries is taking shape. Djibouti President Omar Guelleh was in Rwanda in March 2016, for two-day visit that opened Rwanda to the Arab World. Guelleh toured a 20 hectares plot of land that was given to his country in Kigali special economic Zone. Meanwhile, his country also gave Rwanda 25 hectares plot of land on the red sea, which gives Rwanda a good access to Arabic countries across the sea.

“If we have that location developed we will be served well in a number of ways including; exploitation of the area by having Rwandan goods arrived at the port and even carried by air,” President Paul Kagame told the business community then. In April 2017, Kagame was also in Djibouti, accompanied with Minister of Foreign Affairs, the then trade minister among others, and several agreements were signed. They include a bilateral agreement on exoneration of visa fee for diplomatic and service passport holders between both countries.

In other agreements, Rwanda will also benefit from trade partnership with Ethiopia, a country with developed industrial sector. Rwanda and Ethiopia have the same understanding of investment in Africa that “it presents fewer risks to invest in Africa than elsewhere.”
It took Rwanda 5 years to ratify that trade agreement with Ethiopia but only one for the one with Djibouti....
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Old May 2nd, 2018, 03:17 PM   #386
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This has been copied over from the Ethiopian club forums https://www.skyscrapercity.com/showpo...postcount=7952 and https://www.skyscrapercity.com/showpo...postcount=7953

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Originally Posted by Ras Siyan View Post
From feedback I got from someone close to the discussions, the deal would concern the planned new oil terminal to be built in Damerjog by Rubis where Ethiopia would be allowed to be a shareholder. It would be a much bigger terminal than the existing with a capacity of 500 000 m3. It would also be connected to the rail line as Damerjog is about 15 km from Nagad.
Yes, I saw the plans for a railway extension starting directly north of Nagad. Possibly the line would also serve the airport and then has to (somehow) pass by the american Camp Lemonnier.

Damerjog becomes a quite interesting port. Oil terminal, gas pipeline, LNG plant. Originally also planned for livestock? A strategic port, really. Port de Doraleh (DCT, DMP) contrinues to serve as container port. Bulk goods as well at Doraleh?
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Old May 2nd, 2018, 03:44 PM   #387
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Copied from the Ethiopian forum: https://www.skyscrapercity.com/showpo...postcount=7954

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Originally Posted by Ras Siyan View Post
Damn! Where do you follow all of that? I swear you're more informed about the infrastructure development here than the average Djiboutian who stops listening whenever they hear "new port development"

Doraleh has 2 ports: DCT is for containers only while the DMP handles both bulk & containers but mostly bulk (additional 8 millions tons of cargo capacity added by the DMP)

Damerjog, the sleepy village near the capital where we used to buy camel milk is now poised to become the industrial hub of the country. Initially, it was supposed to host the livestock port, then came the POLY GCL gas pipeline & LNG plant, then the oil terminal etc...

Now the plan is widened & the Damerjog Industrial Zone is to house: a new multi-purpose port (the initially planned 2nd phase of the DMP), the LNG & gas pipeline, the new oil terminal & storage, a 2nd sea water desalination plant, & thermal power plant (U/C) & one coal power plant, the ship repaid yard (originally planned in Obock) and a heavy industries zone (steel, cement etc...)... the whole thing connected to the railway line. But that will be developed in phases, the power, oil & gas projects in phase 1
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Old May 6th, 2018, 09:56 AM   #388
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The deal would include exchanges of shares in Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise, Africa’s biggest carrier by revenue, Djiboutian Finance Minister Ilyas Dawaleh said in an interview. Shareholdings in companies such as the Doraleh Container Terminal and in a new oil terminal, Ethiopian Telecommunications Corp. and Djibouti Telecom SA will also be swapped, he said.

While the deal has been politically “endorsed,” the two countries will form a committee to work out the details, Dawaleh said by phone April 30. Ethiopian Information Minister Ahmed Shide confirmed the agreement in a text message.

The pact came as Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, made his first foreign visit at the weekend to Djibouti, the tiny state located where the Indian Ocean meets the Red Sea and that’s become a strategic hub for the U.S. and China. Landlocked Ethiopia -- which the International Monetary Fund ranks as the fastest-growing economy on the continent -- is trying to boost its export-oriented manufacturing, making it reliant on neighboring nations with ports.

Dawaleh said Abiy told Djiboutian officials that both countries should start referring to their state-owned enterprises as belonging to all, rather than one nation.

Abiy said in a statement on his Facebook page that officials from both countries “underlined the importance of working towards the realization of complete economic integration of the two economies.” He didn’t elaborate.
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Old May 30th, 2018, 02:11 PM   #389
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A new country report by a business risk intelligence firm, EXX Africa, which released a country report on Djibouti says the economic growth of the country is over stated and unsustainable.

“The high profile cancellation of a port terminal concession earlier this year has raised questions over Djibouti’s attitude to foreign investment. On the one hand, the government is becoming increasingly nationalist and seems to be promoting statist interventions in the economy,” the report stated.

“Meanwhile, Djibouti is favoring preferred development partners, arguably in violation of existing contractual arrangements. Such interventions are likely to deter further foreign investment in the services sector, while Djibouti’s natural resources are negligible. Moreover, while the incumbent president secured a fourth term in office on a landslide electoral victory only two years ago, a reinvigorated opposition is now boycotting local elections and vocally insisting on political reform.”

Security forces have taken a heavy-handed approach to crack down on opposition supporters and rights activists, according to the report.

“By repressing freedom of speech and political rights, the government has intensified fractious clan allegiances and increased the prospect of armed insurgency. Lack of clarity over the presidential succession is also driving internal rivalries and hampering the longer term policy outlook.”

“Given that Djibouti’s bloated public sector economy is dependent on a financial lifeline thrown by regional powers and has failed to diversify from the port services sector, in reality the country’s investment potential is rather limited. Moreover, nationalist interventions in the economy and weakening political stability indicate that the current mirage of Djibouti’s investment potential is overstated and unsustainable,” it said after indicating the strategic importance of Djibouti and the scrabble for the country by different countries.

The report stated that at first sight, Djibouti seems to be an attractive investment destination in an otherwise troubled Horn of Africa region. The country’s apparent political stability is assured by the presence of multiple foreign military bases and relatively low exposure to regional security threats.

Djibouti’s strategic location near the world’s busiest shipping lanes, controlling access to the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, continues to attract investment from African, western, Asian, and Gulf investors, particularly in the marine, construction, aviation, fuel, and defense sectors, according to the report of EXX Africa.
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Old June 11th, 2018, 02:37 PM   #390
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The World Bank announced today new support for 6,000 potential youth and women entrepreneurs, as part of Djibouti’s efforts to promote entrepreneurship as an engine of growth and job creation. With a US$15 million credit from IDA, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries, the project will encourage new entrepreneurs with a combination of training and access to finance, the consolidation and expansion of key business services to make them easier to access, and support with identifying and linking entrepreneurs to competitive value chains.

The Women and Youth Entrepreneurship Project will support more than 2,300 small and medium sized businesses access enterprise development services. Developing new growth sectors and diversifying the economy are essential for Djibouti to keep its current growth rate and create jobs.

“Most of our population is under 35, and with the right opportunities, these young people will be an engine of growth and transformation,” said Ilyas Moussa, Djibouti’s Minister of Economy and Finance in-charge of Industry. “In partnership with the World Bank, we have worked on improving the business environment, and with this new project will help unleash the extraordinary capacities of Djibouti’s youth, who are full of talents. It’s all about a shift in mindsets that will create a new generation of talented and vibrant Djiboutian leaders.”

The project will fund programs to encourage women and young people to become entrepreneurs, provide the coaching and training needed to either launch or work at a small or medium sized business, and propose business plan competitions and targeted grants.

“This project seeks to harness the transformative potential of women and young entrepreneurs,” said Dr. Asad Alam, World Bank Country Director for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti. “Creating new economic opportunities for them will help boost innovation, promote job creation, and raise living standards for all in Djibouti.“

Along with training and financial incentives, the project will also provide support for linking entrepreneurs with markets. The project will provide technical advice to help create supply chain linkages and the development of export marketing.

“An integrated suite of services, which targets both the production and marketing of products or services, can play a key role in raising the productivity of micro, small and medium businesses,” said Roya Vakil, World Bank Financial Sector Specialist and co-Task Team Leader for the project. ”Offering youth and women a pathway for the future through entrepreneurship skills training enables them to build a sense of agency and foster their communities’ resilience,” added Benjamin Herzberg, World Bank Senior Private Sector Specialist and co-Task Team Leader.

The World Bank’s portfolio in Djibouti consists of ten IDA-funded projects totaling US$120 million. The portfolio is focused on social safety nets, energy, rural community development, urban poverty reduction, health, education, modernization of public administration, governance and private sector development, with particular emphasis on women and youth.
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Old June 26th, 2018, 03:30 PM   #391
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Le Président de la République inaugure une usine de fer à béton

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26 JUIN 2018
Le Président de la République, Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, a parrainé hier, en milieu de matinée, l’inauguration officielle d’une usine de fer à béton, au PK 12 dans la banlieue de Balbala.

D’une capacité de production de 1.200 à 200.000 tonnes par an, cette usine peut couvrir les besoins en fer à béton du marché local. Tant mieux dans la mesure où ce produit est de plus en plus prisé sous les cieux djiboutiens. Et ce au regard du boom qui caractérise ces dernières années le secteur du bâtiment et des travaux publics dans notre pays.

La création de logements, la réalisation et l’extension d’infrastructures portuaires et aéroportuaires qui, constituent les secteurs d’activités les plus dynamiques, requièrent tous l’usage de grandes quantités de fer à béton.

Les matières premières requises par cette usine sont censées provenir, pour un laps important de temps, de carcasse de voitures mises à disposition par la voierie de Djibouti. Nul doute aussi que le démarrage de la production de cette usine sera à l’origine d’une baisse significative de prix du fer à béton au niveau national. Sa mise en service sera aussi porteuse de création d’emplois.

Autre info de taille : l’appareil productif est la propriété d’un investisseur émirati très connu au pays. Citons en l’occurrence Cheick Nahil qui a à son actif plusieurs réalisations économiques à Djibouti, dont le Bawadi Mall et une cimenterie. Le fait dénote de la confiance qu’inspire notre pays en matière de protection d’investissements privés.

Les membres du gouvernement, dont le Premier ministre Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed, ont pris part au déroulement de la cérémonie inaugurale de cette usine de fabrication de fer à béton.



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The President of the Republic, Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, sponsored yesterday, mid-morning, the official inauguration of a concrete reinforcing plant at PK 12 in the suburbs of Balbala.

With a production capacity of 1,200 to 200,000 tons per year, this plant can cover the needs of concrete reinforcing bars on the local market. So much the better as this product is more and more popular in the skies of Djibouti. And this in view of the boom that characterizes in recent years the construction sector and public works in our country.

The creation of housing, the construction and extension of port and airport infrastructures, which are the most dynamic sectors of activity, all require the use of large quantities of concrete reinforcing bars.

The raw materials required by this plant are expected to come, for a significant period of time, car carcass made available by the road Djibouti. There is also no doubt that the start of production at this plant will be at the origin of a significant drop in the price of reinforcing bar at the national level. Its commissioning will also bring job creation.

Other important info: the productive apparatus is owned by a well-known Emirati investor in the country. In this case, Cheick Nahil has several economic achievements in Djibouti, including the Bawadi Mall and a cement plant. This shows the confidence our country has in protecting private investment.

Government members, including Prime Minister Abdulkader Kamil Mohamed, took part in the inaugural ceremony of this iron-making plant.
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Old June 26th, 2018, 03:34 PM   #392
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Old August 1st, 2018, 05:43 PM   #393
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Djibouti has moved 44 places in the World Bank Logistics Performance Index (LPI) in just two years after investing heavily in its infrastructure.

The East African state has jumped from 154th in 2014 to 90th this year, and is listed as one of the top 10 most improved economies in the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ report.

Djibouti has improved in five of the six World Bank ranking criteria, with its greatest success in the infrastructure ranking, where it rose 50 places to 60th.

It comes less than a year after the country opened three of the most modern ports in Africa in US$ 15 billion expansion, including the Doraleh Multipurpose Port, which handled over 24,000 TEU in its first six months of operation.

The Doraleh Container Terminal is one of the most efficient in Africa with 34 moves per hour per crane, and it has increased 32% in the last five months.

The terminal is the centre of the Djibouti International Free Trade Zone (DIFTZ), the biggest free trade zone in Africa that opened in July 2018.
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Old August 10th, 2018, 11:50 PM   #394
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Djibouti goes from position of strength to potential downfall


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Old September 8th, 2018, 11:17 AM   #395
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Foreign minister is aware of the danger of a debt trap, calls level 'manageable'

TOKYO -- The foreign minister of Djibouti said the East African country intends to help promote China's Belt and Road Initiative, but is also cautious about overreliance on China in light of Djibouti's ballooning debts linked to Chinese investment.

"If [the initiative] brings wealth, progress, development, we welcome it," said Mahmoud Ali Youssouf in a recent interview with Nikkei.

Youssouf said he is aware of the dangers of a debt trap. Sri Lanka handed over the operating rights to a port in the country to Chinese companies after it was unable to repay money owed to China. "The debt burden is something real, we don't deny it," Youssouf said, but he added, "It is at a manageable level."

Djibouti is strategically located at the entrance to the Red Sea. The Belt and Road project championed by Chinese President Xi Jinping is aimed at creating an economic zone connecting China to Europe and Africa by land and sea. The maritime route is to pass through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait near Djibouti, traverse the Red Sea and proceed through the Suez Canal.

China's strategic interests are growing, along with its economy. Djibouti is the site of China's first overseas military outpost, which opened last year. And it has tapped China for infrastructure investment capital, including from Chinese state-owned banks. The funds were used to build a railway line connecting Djibouti with its neighbor to the south and west, Ethiopia.

Djibouti has also opened a China-backed free trade zone covering 48 sq. km, the largest such zone in Africa. The cost of the project, at $3.5 billion, exceeded the tiny country's 2017 gross domestic product of $2 billion.

"We need sophisticated infrastructure. The only country that provides financing is China," Youssouf said of his country's dependence on Beijing.

That dependence is seen most clearly in Djibouti's swelling foreign debt, 80% of which was owed to China in 2016, according to the Center for Global Development, a U.S. think tank. World Bank figures show that Djibouti's external debt was equal to 86% of its GDP in 2017.

If Djibouti can become a trade hub by building up its infrastructure, it should be able to meet its obligations using revenues from ports and railways, Youssouf said. He also expressed hope for more involvement from Japanese companies, saying, "We need diversification of our partners, source of aid and investment."

Youssouf suggested one area for fruitful cooperation between Japan and Djibouti: "The biotechnology that Japan has developed could be very useful for African farmers," he said, pointing out that many of the continent's economies are built on agriculture.

Djibouti has a population of around 950,000, more than 90% of which is Muslim. In addition to China, the country hosts military bases for France, the former colonial power, and the U.S. Japan's Self-Defense Forces also have a base in the country, where it conducts anti-piracy operations.
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Old November 6th, 2018, 04:33 PM   #396
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Djibouti has jumped 55 places in the World Bank’s 2019 Doing Business index and now ranks among one of the 100 easiest countries in the world to do business.

The East African state moved from 154th to 99th in the list after being praised by the World Bank for implementing key reforms across six major areas which have considerably improved its business environment.

The primary drivers behind its growth, according to the World Bank, is the recently launched Djibouti International Free Trade Zone (DIFTZ), the largest free trade zone in Africa, and a USD$15 billion infrastructure investment programme.

Furthermore, it has also benefited from its location on two of the world’s three busiest maritime trade routes, as well as the changes it made to its Code of Commerce and legal framework.

This has led to it being the only country from the Middle East or North Africa to appear on the World’s Bank list for most improved economies, where it was second behind Afghanistan.

The World Bank also praised Djibouti in July 2018 after it moved 44 places up the Logistics Performance Index (LPI), despite it being locked in a legal dispute with DP World over the Doraleh Container Terminal (DCT).

In its report, the World Bank praised Djibouti for its economic reforms: “Djibouti introduced a total of 11 business regulatory reforms in the past two editions of Doing Business," it said.

“Djibouti, the only economy from the Middle East and North Africa region in the list of 10 top improvers this year, has targeted its reform agenda toward strengthening its legal framework.

“For example, Djibouti implemented strict deadlines for registering the property sale agreement with the Tax Authority and digitizing its land registry.

“Enforcing contracts is easier following the creation of a dedicated division within the court of the first instance to resolve commercial cases.

“With regards to resolving insolvency, Djibouti established equal treatment of creditors in reorganization proceedings and increased creditors’ participation".
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Old December 10th, 2018, 07:29 AM   #397
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Horn of Africa nation gets only 3 pct of GDP from tourists, despite a host of attractions, says top tourism official

Tourism only contributes 3 percent of GDP in the small Horn of Africa country of Djibouti, and more investment is needed to boost this figure, Djibouti’s top tourism official told reporters on Thursday.

Although Djibouti has a lot to offer tourists, with its sandy beaches, pristine coral reefs, and cultural and historical attractions, dramatic investments in infrastructure facilities are needed to draw visitors and diversify the economy, Osman Abdi Mohammed, the head of Djibouti’s National Tourism Office, said on the sidelines of the second Djibouti International Trade Fair.

With the resumption of Air Djibouti passenger flights in 2016, the 2018 inauguration of the new Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, the construction of two new international airports, and the modernization of the current airport, the country has taken important steps to develop its international connectivity, he said.

Djibouti’s economy depends largely on providing port services to its larger neighbor, Ethiopia, which has a population of over 100 million, over 100 times the size of Djibouthi’s.

According to Mohammed, within five years his office plans to increase the number of tourists coming to Djibouti from the current annual figure of 140,000 to half a million.

He added that the government is speaking with Ethiopia about harmonizing the two countries’ tour operation systems.

Separately, high-profile Djibouti officials attended the inauguration of a modern recreational facility by an Ethiopian investor on Thursday.

Tadios Tafesse, the owner of Kuriftu Resorts, said there was a good opportunity for Djibouti and Ethiopia to cooperate in the tourism sector.
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Old December 15th, 2018, 02:17 AM   #398
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Old December 16th, 2018, 11:27 AM   #399
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L'Etat djiboutien a signé la semaine dernière un contrat avec la société allemande Dermalog, pionnier dans les technologies de biométrie, pour la mise en place d'un système d'enregistrement biométrique et la numérisation de tous les documents administratifs et de l'état civil. Avec ce projet, Djibouti deviendra un des premiers pays africains à opérer un réel tournant vers la transformation digitale.

Djibouti s'apprête à réaliser un grand pas vers la transformation digitale en signant un contrat avec la société allemande Dermalog pour un projet d'envergure. Selon les sources officielles relayées par la presse locale, celui-consiste en la mise en place d'un système d'enregistrement biométrique et la numérisation de tous les documents administratifs et de l'état civil. Ce dispositif devrait concerner les cartes d'identité nationales et permettre d'enregistrer et conserver des dossiers de naissance, de décès, de mariage, de permis de conduire, ainsi que les cartes grises et les cartes de travailleurs étrangers.

Le contrat avec Dermalog prend également en compte le système ABIS de la police criminelle djiboutienne. Les sources officielles indiquent qu'il s'agira d'une base de données où seront captés et enregistrés tous les casiers judiciaires de ressortissants djiboutiens, ainsi qu'une autre base de données biométriques qui permettra de renforcer la sécurité nationale.

Optimiser les prestations administratives

Hassan Omar Mohamed, ministre djiboutien de l'Intérieur, a estimé que non seulement le nouveau dispositif permettra l'échange direct de données entre les administrations et d'apporter une réponse surtout aux attentes des usagers djiboutiens pour ainsi simplifier l'accès au service de demande de documents administratifs et d'état civil en traitant plus rapidement leurs demandes. Aussi, a ajouté Mohamed, le programme permettra de mettre en place un service amélioré tout en réalisant des économies de fonctionnement non négligeables et conséquentes, avec des conditions optimales de sécurité et de confidentialité.

«Désormais, toute personne, djiboutienne ou pas qui se trouve sur le territoire national sera identifié par un numéro d'identifiant unique qu'elle va garder toute sa vie. Le nom de la personne sera dématérialisé. Toute personne sera identifiée, qu'elle change de nom ou pas. Elle disposera d'une identification unique qui sera implémentée dans tous les documents d'identification. Et la prochaine étape sera que l'on pourra s'identifier avec son doigt sans aucun document à travers le territoire djiboutien», a pour sa part expliqué le représentant officiel de Dermalog, Cherif Daha Sy.

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The Djibouti state last week signed a contract with the German company Dermalog, a pioneer in biometric technologies, for the establishment of a biometric registration system and the digitization of all administrative documents and the state civil. With this project, Djibouti will become one of the first African countries to make a real turn towards digital transformation.

Djibouti is about to take a big step towards digital transformation by signing a contract with the German company Dermalog for a major project. According to official sources relayed by the local press, this-consists of the establishment of a system of biometric registration and the digitization of all administrative documents and civil status. This system should cover national identity cards and allow the registration and maintenance of birth, death, marriage, driver's license records, as well as gray cards and foreign worker cards.

The contract with Dermalog also takes into account the ABIS system of the Djibouti criminal police. Official sources indicate that this will be a database that will capture and record all criminal records of Djibouti nationals, as well as another biometric database that will enhance national security.

Optimize administrative services

Hassan Omar Mohamed, Djibouti's Minister of the Interior, said that not only will the new system allow the direct exchange of data between administrations and provide a response, especially to the expectations of Djiboutian users, thereby simplifying access to the service. requests for administrative and civil documents by processing their requests more quickly. Also, added Mohamed, the program will allow to set up an improved service while realizing significant and substantial economies of operation, with optimal conditions of security and confidentiality.

"From now on, any person, Djiboutian or not, who is on the national territory will be identified by a unique identifier number that she will keep all her life. The name of the person will be dematerialized. Anyone will be identified, whether they change their name or not. It will have a unique identification that will be implemented in all identification documents. And the next step will be that one will be able to identify with his finger without any document through the Djiboutian territory ", for its part explained the official representative of Dermalog, Cherif Daha Sy.
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Old December 27th, 2018, 09:50 AM   #400
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La dette publique et garantie par l’État devrait se situer autour de 104% du PIB à fin 2018, selon le Fonds monétaire international (FMI).

« La stratégie d’investissement dans les infrastructures, qui vise à transformer l’économie djiboutienne et positionner le pays en tant que pôle logistique et commercial pour la sous-région, offre de grandes opportunités de croissance économique et de développement. Pour autant, le financement de cette stratégie à travers l’accumulation de dette a abouti à une situation de surendettement qui présente des risques considérables », relève l’institution dans un communiqué publié le 19 décembre 2018.

Pour assurer la viabilité de la dette, recommande-t-elle, il est important que les réformes permettent de garantir la rentabilité économique et sociale des nombreux projets mis en œuvre. « Il convient par ailleurs de générer des excédents primaires du secteur public suffisants pour réduire la dette publique. Tout cela nécessite la mise en œuvre de réformes des entreprises publiques, de la gestion des finances et de la dette publiques, de la fiscalité, ainsi que du climat des affaires et des politiques de développement humain », ajoute le FMI.

« Générer davantage de ressources pour l’État en réformant les entreprises publiques, en réduisant les dépenses fiscales, et en améliorant l’efficience des dépenses permettrait non seulement d’assoir une amélioration de la viabilité de la dette, mais également de créer l’espace nécessaire aux dépenses prioritaires pour réduire la pauvreté », poursuit-il encore.

Le pays met en œuvre des réformes pour gérer les risques à sa stratégie de développement et maintenir la croissance forte enregistré ces dernières années. Des réformes qui, selon le FMI, « devraient être approfondies et accélérées afin d’assurer la viabilité de la dette publique et de permettre la transition vers une croissance plus inclusive et durable, tirée par l’investissement et le développement du secteur privé, génératrice d’emplois et réduisant la pauvreté.

A noter que la croissance économique ralentit de près de 9,5% en moyenne au cours de la période 2014–16 à environ 6,5% cette année, « du fait de la diminution sensible des investissements publics dans les infrastructures » selon le FMI.



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Public and publicly guaranteed debt is expected to be around 104 percent of GDP by the end of 2018, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

"The infrastructure investment strategy, which aims to transform the Djiboutian economy and position the country as a logistical and commercial hub for the sub-region, offers great opportunities for economic growth and development. However, the financing of this strategy through the accumulation of debt has resulted in a situation of over-indebtedness which presents considerable risks, "notes the institution in a statement released December 19, 2018.

To ensure debt sustainability, she recommends, it is important that reforms help to ensure the economic and social viability of the many projects implemented. "It is also necessary to generate public sector primary surpluses sufficient to reduce the public debt. All this requires the implementation of public enterprise reforms, public finance and debt management, taxation, as well as the business climate and human development policies, "adds the IMF.

"Generating more resources for the state by reforming state enterprises, reducing tax expenditures, and improving the efficiency of spending would not only help improve debt sustainability, but also create space needed for priority spending to reduce poverty, "he continues.

The country is implementing reforms to manage risks in its development strategy and maintain strong growth in recent years. Reforms that, according to the IMF, "should be deepened and accelerated to ensure the sustainability of the public debt and enable the transition to more inclusive and sustainable growth, driven by investment and private sector development, generating jobs and reducing poverty.

It should be noted that economic growth has slowed from an average of 9.5% over the 2014-16 period to around 6.5% this year, "because of the significant decrease in public investments in infrastructure" according to the IMF
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