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05DJIBOUTI326 2005-04-06 14:01:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Djibouti
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E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (U) SUMMARY: On March 31, HIRC Staff members Malik Chaka
and Dr. Pearl Alice Marsh met with Commandant Mohamed Moussa
Abar, the Harbor Master and Director of Maritime Security at
the Port of Djibouti (see para 9 for bio). Abar explained to
the Staffdel how the current port operates, the problems it
is having with its primary customer, Ethiopia, and its
potential for cargo expansion. That night, the Staffdel
attended a lively dinner hosted by the Ambassador where
conversation ranged from Djibouti's economic future to female
genital mutilation. Bios of dinner attendees are attached in
Para 9 for INR. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) Chaka and Marsh's meeting with Abar reflected the
Staffdel's interest in maritime security, the Global War on
Terror and economic and development issues in Djibouti. Abar
described the container terminal and conventional port which
currently fields 100 percent of Djibouti's maritime traffic.

3. (U) Chaka asked how much of the port's incoming cargo was
comprised of goods for Ethiopia, as Djibouti is the country's
only outlet to the sea. Abar said that 80 percent of the
goods received in the port are bound for Addis Ababa. That is
a 60 percent increase over May of 1998 when Djibouti began
making changes to attract commercial traffic to the port,
including decreasing tariffs and speeding up transit. Abar
said that about 35 percent of that cargo originates in Europe
and the remainder comes from the Middle East/Far East.

4. (U) Abar added that the port continues to have problems
with an Ethiopian bureaucracy and banking system that is
extremely slow and inefficient. He said it routinely takes up
to six months for Ethiopia to inspect and clear cargo,
despite the fact that more than 20 Ethiopian customs
officials charged solely with doing so work at the Djibouti
Port. Abar pointed out that with the Port's technology, this
process should take no more than a few days at maximum.
Problems moving Ethiopian goods prompted Djibouti to begin
charging for cargo storage after 30 days, rather than the
previous 60 days. Ethiopians complain it is an unrealistic
time frame, Abar said. NOTE: Abar added that after cargo
leaves Djibouti by truck it is often held up in customs in
Addis for several additional months. END NOTE

5. (U) Chaka inquired whether Djibouti Port is more efficient
than Assab. Abar called it "100 percent more efficient"
because the depth of the channel allows for direct
off-loading. In addition, Abar said, pilfering is much lower
at the Djibouti Port than at any other port in the region.
Most pilfering is plywood and small quantities of milk or
vegetable oil rather than valuables, he said, and in 30 years
the port has never had a container disappear. This is due in
part to the physical security measures taken by the Port
Authority, but primarily to the small size of Djibouti and
the close knit social fabric which makes property crime rare
and easy to detect. In addition, Abar said, Djibouti Port is
cheaper than Aden, Assawa, Jeddah and Port Sudan, primarily
because its tariffs are the lowest in the region.

6. (U) Marsh asked about the port's capacity. Abar replied
that it was currently at 6 million tons per year and has the
potential for 12 million tons per year. The future of the
port lies in trans-shipment, he said, a process where a large
shipment of containers are sent to Djibouti to be split up
and sent in smaller quantities to other countries via air,
land or sea. Even more room will be available once the port's
three oil companies move to the new Dorale Port sometime this
year or next. In addition, Abar expects increased efficiency
now that the Port is under a 25 year operating contract with
Dubai Ports International (DPI). DPI also has operating
contracts for the new Port of Dorale, the Ambouli
International Airport and the Djiboutian customs office.

7. (U) On security features at the current port, Abar said
the port recently invested US$350,000 in new access control
equipment and budgeting systems. In addition, the port has
reinforced access fencing, cut down to one monitored entry
and one monitored exit point, eliminated commercial business
such as restaurants inside the port, assumed direct control
over its security personnel rather than using national
police, established barriers for ships and requires a
declaration of security from every vessel entering the port.
The port is certified IMO compliant, he said and employs
1300, 155 of which are security personnel and 20 of which are
expatriates from DPI. The port has its own training center on
site. Abar said that although the port is very secure, it
would be even safer with training by the U.S. Coast Guard in
new security methods.

8. (U) Staffel Chaka also attended a dinner at the
Ambassador's residence the night of March 31. Conversation
focused on the need for vocational training to improve
Djibouti's labor pool in preparation for the new port. It was
also noted that the high cost of telecommunications is a
hurdle to attracting international business investment. The
dinner ended with the lively discussion of female genital
mutilation, which some guests (of both genders) insisted was
primarily a "female issue," driven by women's desires to
follow tradition. Others argued that if men took a stand by
prohibiting infibulation of their daughters and allowing
their sons to marry non-infibulated women, women's insistence
on the practice would also change.

9. (SBU) Biographic information on several invitees:

- Zeinab Kamil Ali currently occupies the position of the
Director of the Djibouti Free Zone, which was inaugurated in

2004. Prior to taking on this post, she worked at the Office
National des Eaux de Djibouti (ONED, the National Water
Authority) as Chief of Administrative Service, Legal Counsel
to the Director of ONED, and then Assistant Director of ONED.
Ms. Ali has a degree in law and is very active in human
rights and women's issues. In September 2004, she was
sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti to participate in a
special International Visitor's Program on Citizenship funded
with money from the East Africa Counter Terrorism Initiative.
Ali speaks French, English and Somali and has an Afar parent.
Ali is open and opinionated and some rumors place her as the
next Minister of Women.

-- Ali Mohamed Kamil is the Director of Employment within the
Ministry of Labor, where he has worked for 14 years. Prior to
his employment with the Ministry, he spent 6 years as
Director of the National Institute for Public Administration.
Mr. Kamil holds a Master's Degree in Economics and Business
Administration and attended school with Ms. Ali. He was by
sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti to participate in
an International Visitor's Program on Organized Labor in
August 2004. He speaks French, Afar, Somali and English.
Kamil is somewhat quiet, but reflective and frank when he
does share his thoughts. He has an excellent grasp on the
current labor situation in Djibouti and how it will need to
change to aid future economic prosperity.

-- Youssouf Moussa Dawaleh is in his second term as a member
of the Djiboutian National Assembly and an active member of
the business community as head of the Grand Pecherie (Big
Fish Market) as well as co-owner of the Djiboutian Maritime
Management and Investment Company (DMMI), which manages
Djibouti's fishing port. Dawaleh is the Permanent
Representative for African-Caribean-Pacific-European
Countries (ACP-EU) within the National Assembly. He is also
Vice President of the Finance Commission for ACP country
issues, a member of the National Assembly's full Finance
Commission, Vice President of the Eritrean-Djiboutian
Parliamentarians Committee, and a member of the
Djiboutian-American Parliamentarians Committee. In his first
term in the National Assembly, he served as Vice President of
the Commission for Production and Exchange and a member of
the Commission for Social Development and Environmental
Protection. Dawaleh and his partners at DMMI are currently
upgrading the fishing port and building production and export
capacity of the fishing industry in Djibouti. His eventual
hope is to export Djiboutian fish to Europe, the U.S. and
Gulf countries. He speaks French, Somali and English.
Youssouf is politically sensitive and, although young and
educated, somewhat traditional in his views.

-- Simon Mebrathu is currently Director of External Financing
in charge of public investments and external debt management
in the Ministry of Finance. Prior to serving in this
position, Mr. Mebrathu was advisor to the Minister of Finance
and the Project Manager for the Technical Assistance for
Economic Reforms. He was also an advisor to the Minister of
Commerce and manager of the Private Sector Promotion Project
financed by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
Mr. Mebrathu also taught Accounting and Commercial Law at the
La Glavere Training Center in Tours, France and Company
Accounting and Systems to local bank employees. He holds
Associate's, Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Social and
Economic Administration with concentrations in Commercial Law
and Management, all from the University in Tours, France.
Mebrathu also earned a post graduate degree in African
Studies, with a focus on political science, from the
Institute of Political Studies in Bordeaux. He speaks French,
English and Arabic.

Other Meetings for Staffdel Chaka:

--Mohamed Ali Hassan is the Director of Bilateral Relations
at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He earned Bachelor's and
Master's degrees in Anglo-American studies from the
University of Paul Valery in Montpelier, France. His
diplomatic studies were done at the International Relations
Institute in Yaounde, Cameroon. Hassan has attended
professional training courses all over the world, including
China and the United States, where in February 2004 he
attended the Department of State/Department of Defense Senior
Leader Seminar at the African Center for Strategic Studies.
In June 2002, he was by sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in
Djibouti to participate in an International Visitor's Program
on U.S. Foreign Policy Toward Africa. Prior to taking his
current job, he worked in the International Organizations
Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the
Africa/Asia ad Pacific division in the Department of
Bilateral Affairs. Hassan currently is co-chairman of the
Djibouti-France, Djibouti-Japan, Djibouti-Ethiopia and
Djibouti-Eritrea Bilateral Relations Committees. He is also a
member of the China/Africa Economic Forum Committee and the
U.S. Military Assistance Committee. He is chairman of the
National Bilateral Relations Follow-up Committee. He speaks
French, English, Somali, Arabic and Afar and has an Afar and
a Arab parent. He is politically savvy and seems well-trusted
within the current administration.

-- Commandant Mohamed Moussa Abar has been the Harbor Master
and Director of Maritime Security at the Port of Djibouti
since 1995. He previously worked as assistant to the Harbor
Master, a full tonnage pilot, a sea trials pilot, a Maritime
Institute deck officer and the tower controller for the Port
of Djibouti. He has attended several international port
management port courses and conferences in places such as New
Orleans, Haifa, Marseilles and Tokyo. He speaks French,
Somali, Amharic and English and seems very cosmopolitan and