Aden: The Growth Hub for Industry and Cargo Services [Archives:2001/43/Business & Economy]

October 22 2001

Karen Dabrowska
There will be competition within the region and there will be many problems to be resolved. But, Aden is now in a position to capitalize on its many natural advantages to become the growth hub for industry and cargo services that have been anticipated for many years and that Yemen so urgently needs.
That was the conclusion reached by Mustafa Rajamanar the British Consul in Aden when he addressed London’s business-orientated Middle East Association.
According to Rajamanar, anyone seeing the high level of activity in Aden over the past year, both in the port and on land, cannot help but be impressed by its positive feel. “Watching cargo operations at Ma’alla, which is now constantly full of ships, with more waiting to berth anchored in the outer harbor, seeing the Yemeni crane drivers at the container terminal handling containers at rates of up to 40 boxes an hour on 300m long ships, and to see the same ships being turned in the basin late at night by tugs, gives the impression that the port is going somewhere”.
Rajamanar admitted that employment opportunities, though still inadequate, are growing in the city due to the multiplier effect of a successful port and can be expected to increase.
He pointed out that Yemen’s population continues to expand at about 3.5% annually and this growth generates a rising demand for imports. The government has the difficult task of matching national development with available resources. The World Bank and other organizations see Aden, the city and the port, as the growth hub for the country and the region. Inevitably there are challenges to be overcome, but the signs are very positive.
The port, on which the city depends so much, is expanding its business at a rapid pace.
Aden handles two types of cargoes: cargo that must come to the country as imports brought into Aden for delivery to its hinterland which now extends to Sana’a or as exports of manufactured goods and raw materials also tied to the use of Aden. The refinery continues to import four million tons of oil annually and to produce roughly the same quantity for internal use in Yemen or for export. There is also transshipment, especially of containers, which is recognized by ports around the world as ‘footloose’, i.e. it can use any convenient and competitive port. Aden has shown strong growth in containers traffic 25% of which is import/export and 75% transshipment.
At Ma’alla, Hayel Saeed Anam is now providing flour of any required grade at its grain importing and flour mill complex. It is in the process of expanding its silo storage capacity from 60,000 tons to 130,000 tons. At the same time, it will install a third production line to increase production capacity from 1,500 tons a day to 2,250 tad.
Cement storage and automatic bagging is also moving forward at Ma’alla to meet the rising demand for this product. Aden Cement Enterprises extended its storage facilities at the end of 2000 and, this month, have imported and brought into service a high capacity mobile cement unloader to improve discharge rates to its plant.
The Yemen Ports Authority has also entered into a contract with Raysut Cement from Oman to establish facilities for bulk cement storage and bagging at Ma’alla.
In parallel with the growth in cement imports, timber and steel imports have also risen sharply in recent years to support the construction industry and the newly established steel processing facilities in the Abyan Beach area.
Yemen’s raw materials have long been recognized by the UNDP and other organizations as an important source of national wealth. An Indian company approached the Governorate of Lahej in 2001 and reached an agreement to extract limestone from a site in Lahej for export. It forecasts exports of one million tons in the first year, to the east coast of India, expanding to three million tons annually as the market in countries such as South Korea and Japan is developed.