Djibouti – Land of the White Gold

The country named after its capital, Djibouti City, Djibouti lies in northeast Africa on the Gulf of Aden in the Horn Of Africa and at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. Formerly known as French Somaliland (1896–1967) and the French Territory of the Afars and Issas (1967–77), the country took Djibouti as its name when it gained independence from France on June 27, 1977. It borders Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia. The country which is almost the size of Massachusetts, is mainly a stony desert, with scattered plateaus and highlands

With an estimated population of 960 000 people and a GDP of $1.97 Billion (World Bank 2018), the country is home to the 3rd most Saline Body water and 6th in the World called lake Assal. The lake is a crater lake in the Danakil Desert in central Djibouti. Dormant volcanoes and black lava fields back its emerald water.

More than 155m below sea level, it’s the lowest point in Africa and the third-lowest point on Earth after the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. No outflow occurs from the lake, and due to high evaporation, the salinity level of its waters is 10 times than that of the sea. Lake Assal is the world’s largest salt reserve which has been named the “White Gold” and has given life to its nation.

Djibouti has had its geographical location working to its advantage which can be seen in the Developed countries’ interests in setting up either a base or shipping representation in the country. located at the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, the gateway of the Suez Canal – through which 10 percent of the world’s oil exports and 20 percent of all commercial goods travel. The Gulf of Aden/Red Sea is a critical water space, through which a significant amount of global merchant shipping passes, China has advanced in taking advantage of this by setting up a military base in Djibouti in 2017 – a step that elevated the African nation’s status while sparking concerns over China’s military might. This forms China’s “Belt and Road Initiative”, supporting Beijing’s juggling of commercial and military objectives in Africa. It hosts other military bases for France, the United States, Japan, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), as well as other foreign countries with forces supporting global anti-piracy efforts.

The country’s economy has been driven by a state-of-the-art port complex, among the most sophisticated in the world. The size of its economy limits its ability to diversify production and increases its reliance on foreign markets, making it more vulnerable to market downturns and hampering its access to external capital. The country has low agricultural productivity as only 4% of the country’s land is arable, hence relying on imports for food supply.

On the Neil Economic Scale, the price of a can of Coke in Djibouti is 90 DJF (Djiboutian franc) (R7.48) and the price of a litre of petrol is 220 DJF (R17.30). The inflation rate is around 2.18%.

Djibouti’s Doing Business ranking improved from 171th in 2016 to 99th in 2018. The government continues to focus on financial-, telecommunications-, and trade-related services, solidifying the country’s position as an important regional business and trade hub in the Horn of Africa. As a result, the economy relies heavily on the service sector, which accounts for some four-fifths of the country’s gross domestic product. The government of Djibouti has maintained a good and stable political environment and governance issues are not part of the list of problems but most significant are environmental problems – deforestation, desertification, water pollution, and the protection of its wildlife. The country remains with great potential bigger and greater than its size.