Investment sectors

Financial services

Djibouti is the natural financial services hub for East Africa. Accounting for around 13% of GDP, its banking sector plays a vital role in the national economy.

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It also has an emerging Islamic finance sector that it is actively promoting to increase banking penetration amongst its population, and to attract foreign direct investment from other African countries to help fund upgrades to the country's infrastructure.

Financial liberalism

Djibouti’s banking sector has opted for financial liberalism, which enables it to promote a stable, dynamic, and reassuring financial environment for investors and has resulted in the country attracting substantial foreign deposits. It also adheres to a strict application of international regulatory standards. The success of the banking system can also be attributed to the absence of exchange restrictions and the stability of the Djiboutian franc (DJF). Djibouti’s exchange rate is pegged to the US dollar under the currency-board regime which has provided monetary stability and has turned the country into a regional financial centre thanks to free movement of capital and free conversion of the Djibouti franc into all currencies.

Best practice

The Central Bank continues to strengthen its supervision of commercial banks in Djibouti. Recent efforts have focused on implementing the 2011 banking law, which deals with how credit houses officially register and requires periodic statements of their performance and their annual internal reports. Inspection and supervision missions in credit establishments have also been stepped up and cooperation agreements signed with foreign central banks to ensure better monitoring of foreign bank branches in Djibouti.


The financial sector grew rapidly between 2006 and 2011 with the arrival of a number of new banks. There were eleven in 2012 up from two in 2006. In 2012, the banking sector accounted for 13% of GDP. Introduction of Islamic financial instruments and the opening of accounts by small savers, pensioners, retired and non-salaried people, tapped into a reserve of savings that traditional banks had not been able to access previously. Apart from the Central Bank of Djibouti, the country’s financial sector includes ten deposit and credit institutions.

Fishing & agriculture

Fishing and agriculture is a key focus for the government of Djibouti in its strategy against poverty and improving food security.

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The sector, including livestock and forestry, recorded an annual growth of 3.5% of GDP in 2010.

Fishing industry

Djibouti occupies a key strategic position on the eastern side of the Red Sea, which includes productive areas for fishing in the Gulf of Tadjourah and the Gulf of Aden. In recent years, Djibouti has moved to bring its small fishing industry under management with new Fisheries Laws being introduced in 2002. In April 2004, the government of Djibouti handed its fishing port to a private firm, Djibouti Maritime Management Investment (DMMI) in order to develop this sector. Furthermore, a fish laboratory and a fish processing factory were inaugurated in 2009 and three modern trawlers were received from Turkey in June 2010 in order to increase fish production and upgrade local fishermen’s skills. A dedicated port for the fishing industry is currently under development to support the next phase of growth for the sector.


Djibouti is a major meeting point for undersea fibre optic cable systems connecting Europe, the Middle East and Asia, to Africa.

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The telecommunications sector is at the heart of the national strategy. Thus, Djibouti, through its public operator, Djibouti Telecom, has invested more than US$100m in regional and international infrastructures. It includes one satellite earth station and two landing facilities serving five submarine cables, linking Africa to Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

Djibouti Telecom

East Africa submarine cable system

Djibouti Telecom is part of the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy), an undersea fibre optic cable system connecting countries in Eastern Africa to the rest of the world. The thirty operators’ submarine cable system runs from Mtunzini in South Africa to Port Sudan with connections to Mozambique, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia and Djibouti. Valued at US$235m, this project entered into commercial service on the 30th July 2010 and connects more than 250 million customers. EASSy is the highest capacity system serving sub-Saharan Africa, with more than ten terabit per second (Tbit/s). It is the first to deliver direct connectivity between East Africa, Europe and North America. It is also the only system with built in resilience end-to-end. EASSy interconnects with multiple international submarine cable networks for onward connectivity to Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and Asia. On land, the fibre optic cable linking Djibouti to Ethiopia is being installed. This will in turn connect Ethiopia to the undersea cable system.

Europe India gateway

Thanks to the underwater Europe India Gateway (EIG) submarine communications cable system, launched for commercial use in February 2011, Djibouti Telecom will also be carrying traffic to Great Britain and India. EIG stretches from Mumbai, India to London, UK with landings en route in UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Monaco, Marseilles, Gibraltar, and Portugal.


Thanks to Djibouti’s unique and diverse landscape, the country offers significant investment opportunities in the tourism sector.

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Main touristic activities include deep sea diving, sport fishing, trekking, exploration of the nomadic world, ornithology as well as 370 km of coastline where heavenly sand beaches open on turquoise water.

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Sites of interest include the Strait of Ras Siyan, which is considered a “wonder of the world” for diving; a multitude of fine sand beaches such as Doraleh, Khor Ambado, or Arta; the mountains, ideal for hiking; the desert which is amongst the driest in the world; the vast green rainforest at the Day Forest National Park; the botanical gardens at the archipelago of the Seven Brothers; the scenic towns of Ali Sabieh and Dikhil; the lunar landscapes of Lake Abbé; and Lac Assal with its impressive salt deposits.

Tourism statistics

Tourists from the surrounding region account for 60% of visitors and North America is a source of new customers for Djibouti. At the moment, 5% come from Asia and mainly Japan. The increase in air traffic with six carriers from Europe, the Middle East and Africa serving Djibouti provides great tourism potential for Djibouti.

Investment opportunities

There is huge potential for the development of the tourism industry and the government of Djibouti is actively promoting investment. At the intersection of the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, the country presents one of the most fascinating places in the world for scuba diving with its abundance of fauna and flora. There is also the opportunity to develop hotels, bungalows and tourist villas in areas such as Maskali Island, Moucha Island, Day, Lac Abbé, Ghoubet, Lac Assal and Randa, creating parks, marinas and an amusement centre for tourists and the local population.

Transport & logistics

Located at the southern entry of the Red Sea and at the crossroads of the busiest shipping route in the world.

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The Republic of Djibouti is a major crossroads for transport and logistics between Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe through the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. Djibouti’s location as a regional hub for trade with the emerging Eastern African economies creates significant growth opportunities in the transport and logistics sectors, and over US$9bn of investment is planned in sea and air ports, maritime and free zone sectors. In addition, two new international airports are being built, a US$400m ship maintenance yard, and a US$100m desalination plant are also planned.

Port of Djibouti

The Port of Djibouti is located at the southern entrance to the Red Sea, at the intersection of major international shipping lanes connecting Asia, Africa and Europe. The port provides a secure regional hub for transhipment and relay of goods. Since 1998, the port has handled 100% of Ethiopia's maritime traffic, which moves to and from Addis Ababa by truck and rail. To accommodate this the Port has made an additional 20 ha of dry yard area available. The port of Djibouti is ideally located to serve the COMESA market, linking 19 countries and 380 million people.

Port of Djibouti

Doraleh container terminal

In 2006, DP World and the Djiboutian Government established a joint venture, with the signing of a 30 year concession to operate the Doraleh Container Terminal. Opened on 15th December  2009, the Doraleh Container Terminal (DCT) is the most technologically advanced container terminal in the African continent. The DCT is managed by DP World and ownership is 66% Port of Djibouti and 33% DP World.

Doraleh container terminal

Doraleh oil terminal

The Doraleh oil terminal is managed by Horizon Djibouti Terminals Limited (HDTL) over a build, operate and transfer programme lasting 20 years. HDTL is a joint venture between private investors and the government of Djibouti. The Port of Djibouti, with its deep waters (18-20 m draft) and large hinterland base, is favourable to the development of "tankering" (offshore resupply) and processing industries (oil refineries, desalination of seawater). The Doraleh oil terminal has a capacity of 370,000 m3 of hydrocarbons and chemical products and can unload two hundred trucks of 45,000 litres daily. It takes four hours to load a truck instead of an average of 24 hours.  

In addition, Ethiopia and Djibouti have signed an agreement to build a 550 km (340 mile) pipeline to transport diesel, gasoline and jet fuel from port access in Djibouti to central Ethiopia. The 20 inch (51 cm) line is capable of transporting 240,000 barrels a day of fuel. It will cost US$1.55 billion and is scheduled for completion in 2018. 

Doraleh multi-purpose port

The Doraleh multi-purpose port, managed by the Port of Djibouti, is being developed in phases. It will supplement the old port of Djibouti in order to expand the capacity and allow increased access to key rail, road and air transport links. The first phase will incorporate seven berths alongside modern facilities and is being developed in conjunction with China Merchants Holdings (International) company.

Damerjog livestock port

The Damerjog livestock port, managed by the Port of Djibouti, will relieve the existing livestock terminal at the port of Djibouti and allow the export of two million livestock per year upon completion. Facilities will also be built to support the expansion of Djibouti’s growing fishing industry, to increase exports to neighbouring countries, including Ethiopia, and internationally. The economic impact in terms of earnings from exports will represent about US$500m per year, following an investment of US$70m in the new livestock port.

Tadjourah and Ghoubet ports

Elsewhere in Djibouti, a new port is being developed at Tadjourah in the north, for the export of potash to support the rapidly expanding industry in Ethiopia. A port is also being developed at Ghoubet for the export of minerals and salt from Lac Assal, the largest undeveloped source of salt in the world. In addition, a feasibility study is being undertaken in relation to the development of a ship repair and dry dock, to expand the required infrastructure on one of the busiest maritime routes in the world off the East African seaboard. The ports are managed by the Port of Djibouti.

Port of Djibouti

Livestock terminal at Doudah

The construction of a terminal near the livestock quarantine center for export is now located at Doudah. Managed by the Port of Djibouti, this will be a regional hub for the export of camels, sheep, goats and cattle from the Horn of Africa.

Port of Djibouti

Djibouti international airports

Djibouti is building two new international airports at a cost of US$599m which will cater to two million passengers in the Horn of Africa. Planned to be operational in 2018, the first airport, Hassan Gouled Aptidon International Airport, named after Djibouti's first president, is being built in Ali-Sabieh, 25 km south of the capital. It will be capable of catering for 1.5 million passengers and 100,000 tons of air cargo per year. The airport will accommodate all modern commercial aircraft including the giant A380. The second airport, Ahmed Dini Ahmed International Airport, named after Djibouti's former prime minister, is located in the north of Djibouti and is designed to handle up to 767,400 passengers per year. It is expected to open its doors in 2016. The two new airports will create approximately 2,000 jobs during construction and operation.

Modern railway

Construction of a modern electric railway for the transfer of predominantly cargo and passengers from Djibouti to Ethiopia is underway and is due for completion in October 2015. The new railway will reduce transport time between the capitals to less than ten hours, rather than the two days it takes heavy goods vehicles using the congested mountain road. Capacity will also be higher, at around 3500 tonnes, seven times the maximum capacity of the old rail link. The US$4bn rail link is expected to boost bilateral trade and drive up demand for port services in the long term, as more than 90% of Ethiopia's imports arrive via Djibouti. Plans are for the line to eventually extend across the continent to West Africa connecting the Red Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. The railway is being built by the China Railway Group and the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation.

Road infrastructures

As a means of underpinning Djibouti’s position as a hub for trade, logistics and related services, the country has embarked on building several road corridors. The government of Djibouti has signed a US$53m agreement with the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development to finance the Tadjourah-Balho road project. The new road is expected to aid socio-economic development in Djibouti’s northern region and to facilitate transit between the Tadjourah region and the capital city.

In addition, construction of the Republic of Djibouti’s first ever highway from Djibouti to Ethiopia began in June 2015. The new highway, the Holl Djibouti Ali Sabieh Galilé road, will play an important socio economic part in connecting many parts of rural Djibouti as well as providing tens of thousands of jobs. It will serve the Hassan Gouled Aptidon International Airport, which is currently under construction. Furthermore, it will connect the Doraleh port to the free zone and to the Damerjog port. It will allow free movement of goods and commodities more efficiently between Ethiopia and Djibouti and across the whole of Djibouti.

Newly established agency, Agence Djiboutienne des Routes (ADR) is managing the construction of the new roads as well as maintaining existing roads across Djibouti.

Natural resources

Djibouti’s key natural resources include geothermal energy, salt, petroleum, gold, clay, marble, pumice, gypsum and diatomite.

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Djibouti is committed to becoming the first country in Africa to generate all its energy requirements through renewable sources by 2020, and projects to develop geothermal, solar, wind and wave energy capabilities are all underway. The geothermal electricity generation programme is a priority for the government and its geothermal potential is acknowledged as one of the highest in the world. The Japan International Cooperation Agency completed a survey of the 13 potential geothermal sites in 2014 and the Ministry of Energy expects four exploratory wells to be drilled near the caldera at Asal-Fiale within the year. Other sites that have shown potential include Hanle-Garabbayis, North Goubet and Gaggade. Djibouti has attracted investment from the United States of America, Japan, Australia and Italy interested in harnessing Djibouti’s geothermal energy. Furthermore, companies including Qatar Electric and Fotowatio Renewable Ventures of Spain are helping develop wind and solar power projects.

Wind energy

In a first for Djibouti, the Minister of Energy signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Shanghai Electric in June 2015 for the construction of a 60 Megawatt wind farm.

Djibouti has considerable wind potential, especially at Ghoubet/Assal, Gali Maaba and Bada Wein. It is estimated that there is 4000 to 5000 kWh/year of wind power.


Solar power

Every year, each km2 exposed to solar energy is the equivalent of 1.5 million barrels of oil. Djibouti has one of the highest rates of sunshine (2300 kWh per m2 per year) and solar radiation as high as 3500 hours per year. The Djiboutian Agency for Social Development (ADDS) has recently begun to equip schools, drilling wells and homes with solar panels.

Geothermal electricity

The geothermal electricity generation programme is the number one priority for Djibouti’s government and its geothermal potential is acknowledged as one of the largest in the world. Djibouti has already embarked on the first salt lake geothermal development plan.


Lac Assal is located in a large depression of 115 km2 about 100 km to the west of Djibouti City. More than 6 million tonnes of salt are deposited in the area every year making the resource inexhaustible should production equal annual fresh deposits. New investment in Lac Assal is encouraged by the government, especially projects with private equity capital or financing through institutional backers.