Djibouti Re-Tendering Airport Contracts Given to Chinese Company

  • Port authority doesn’t say why it’s reoffering building deals
  • Small Horn of Africa country of growing strategic importance

Djibouti is re-tendering contracts for building two airports previously awarded to China Civil Engineering Construction Corp., a local official said, as the tiny Horn of Africa country becomes a strategic hub for world powers.

CCECC, which signed the contracts in January 2015, can participate in the re-tender, “but they will have no exclusivity,” Aboubaker Omar Hadi, the chairman of Djibouti’s Ports and Free Zones Authority, said in an interview. He didn’t give a reason for the re-tendering nor the source of financing for the airports.

CCECC’s Ethiopia business department manager, Yang Yang, didn’t respond to two emails seeking comment. Abdoulkader Mohamed, a project coordinator for CCECC’s Djiboutian subsidiary, said he’d conveyed a request from Bloomberg to the company’s manager.

Djibouti, sited where the Indian Ocean meets the Red Sea on one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and home to six operational ports, has become increasingly important to regional and world powers. Smaller than the U.S. state of Massachusetts, it hosts the largest U.S. military base in Africa and China’s first such overseas facility, which was inaugurated in July.

Hassan Gouled Aptidon International Airport will be located in the country’s second-largest city, Ali Sabieh, and initially have two runways before adding two more, giving it the ability to handle commercial jet-liners as well as 600,000 metric tons of freight per year, Hadi said. Ahmed Dini Ahmed International Airport will be sited on the Seven Brothers Islands, part of the Bab el-Mandeb strait, a global shipping choke-point that overlooks war-torn Yemen, according to Hadi.

Djiboutian Finance Minister Ilyas Dawaleh said he wasn’t able to comment on the matter.

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