Positive evolution: Youssouf Moussa Dawaleh, President, Chamber of Commerce of Djibouti (Chambre de Commerce de Djibouti, CCD), on prospects for local industry and investing in human resources

Youssouf Moussa Dawaleh, President, Chamber of Commerce of Djibouti (Chambre de Commerce de Djibouti, CCD)

What do you consider to be the main challenges faced by industry players in Djibouti?

DAWALEH: The problem of industrialisation has always been at the heart of discussions when it comes to the economic development of Djibouti, as well as its dependence on other countries in meeting industry demands. If we consider the distribution of value added by sector, industry represents only a small percentage. Our economy is more oriented towards the tertiary sector because of the country’s strategic position for maritime and port activities. There are many reasons that explain this situation, ranging from environmental considerations to the cost of production factors, and the narrowness of the domestic market.

However, this situation has not prevented some businesses from entering into the industrial market and succeeding. Moreover, we are witnessing the sector’s positive evolution with the emergence of new private production entities in various fields, ranging from the manufacture of building materials to paper production, to the distribution of food products such as tomatoes, pasta and dairy products. Today, these entities represent only 2% of companies registered in Djibouti, but this figure will surely increase in the coming years. Thanks to a gradual shift towards renewables and more affordable energy, improvement of the banking offer, the modernisation of the investment framework and tax reforms, it is becoming easier to invest in industrial projects and activities. The recent inauguration of a new international economic free zone in Djibouti will also help seize these opportunities and develop industrial activities.

How can the private sector participate in the development of human resources locally?

DAWALEH: It is important for Djibouti to invest in its human resources. This is a priority for all actors involved in the economic development of the country. Djibouti is made up of a large, young population, whose skills often do not cater to the needs of the labour market. The public sector can no longer absorb this emerging labour force, so solutions must be sought in the private sector. To this end, the government has partnered with the private sector, the CCD and donors to develop numerous training programmes to strengthen the employability of Djibouti’s workforce, foster the development of entrepreneurship and support professional integration. In addition, at the regulatory level new measures regarding apprenticeship contracts have been adopted, enabling firms to contribute to the development of a skilled workforce.

What steps can be taken to ensure that Djibouti’s economic growth is inclusive?

DAWALEH: There is still a gap between foreign direct investment and local growth. However, Djibouti is working hard to offer the best conditions possible for new firms to establish themselves. Given the dynamism of our economy, we must seize the business opportunities created domestically and encourage local individuals to participate in Djibouti’s growth.

The main efforts for local economic development are geared towards the creation of small and medium-sized enterprises in the sectors of tourism, agri-business, construction, transport, fishing and entrepreneurship. The state’s mission in terms of economic development is, among other things, to improve the quality of services and promote exports, alongside efforts to improve those products intended for export.

In addition, many institutions in charge of business and personal services are expanding. For instance, the hospitality and tourism sectors, which are developing at a considerable pace, help make business trips to Djibouti enjoyable, which encourages visitors to explore other parts of the country. In light of the development opportunities that exist across these sectors, Djibouti will have to mobilise all the necessary efforts to be competent and prepared to meet future needs.

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The Report: Djibouti 2018

Industry & Retail chapter from The Report: Djibouti 2018

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