Gifted land to Rwanda unused in Djobouti, four years later

Sunday October 11 2020

Container vessel in port on March 03, 2018 in Djibouti, Republic of Djibouti. PHOTO ~ FILE


Rwanda is still a long way from exploiting the 60 hectares of land it was given by the Djibouti government as parties continue to drag their feet due to bureaucracy.

The land, which is located near the lucrative Autonomous Port of Djibouti and the Dubai World International Port, is idle seven years after it was given to Rwanda.

Djibouti first gave Rwanda 20 hectares in 2013 before it was added more 40 hectares but since then no concrete plan of utilising it land has come out.

The land, if fully utilised, could see Rwanda destined cargo has another access route to and from the sea, while giving alternatives to Rwandan traders especially if the land is utilised for dry port services.

If a Rwandan dry port is built on the land, it can also be used as a launch pad for Rwandan traders to trade with other hinterland countries due to the ease in manufacturing, shipment and storage of goods.

When Rwanda Today asked Michel Sebera, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, to know where plans to utilise the land stand, he said the government is collaborating with Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and Private Sector Federation (PSF) to come up with suitable investors.


“The three parties are in negotiations to come up with a final conclusion on who should be key investors and identify key projects that are suitable for the land”

“PSF members are ready to invest and some international investors have shown interest to develop the land once the negotiations are complete. The project will start”, he said without giving specific timelines.

When asked if there specific use cases mapped out for utilising the land, he said the land is considered for investments in sectors such as logistics and manufacturing but that the list is not exhaustive.

“Once the negotiations within the Government and private investors on the best case utilization of the land is completed, the project will commence” said Sebera.

Faustin Karasira, the PSF chief operations officer said the business community is still working with the government to secure land titles, as they also wait for formal proposals from investors with developed business models. “Everything is still informal, we are still waiting for proposals from potential investors then we select them in collaboration with the government” he said.

From the conversation with him, it was clear that there are no timelines set for all the remaining steps of selecting investors to utilize the land in Djibouti, which means it might still take a long time before the land is utilized.

Rwanda also reciprocated by giving Djibouti a 10 hectare piece of land in the Kigali Special Economic Zone.

At least 80 percent of Rwanda’s external trade goes through central corridor anchored by the port of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania, which is 8 days of dwell time. The other route is through the port of Mombasa in Kenya.

In 2018 Tanzania Ports Authority opened its subsidiary in Rwanda’s capital Kigali in a bid to help reduce the dwell time by 50 percent and the overall travel time and cost of cargo.

In the last few months logistics hiccups that came due to Covid19 containment measures have slowed Rwanda destined cargo through the Dar es Salaam port and Mombasa through Malaba.