Abdourahman M. Boreh is an international businessman and well-known Djiboutian.
Abdourahman Boreh hopes to raise awareness of the human rights abuses, political and financial corruption that are oppressing the Djiboutian people.
He is calling on the international community to take notice of this small but important country and has outlined his vision for democratic transition and political, economic and social reform.
Among his diverse business portfolio, Boreh collaborated with DP World to develop Djibouti Port and lobbied for the Djibouti Free Zone. The port is now one of Djibouti’s key assets that has attracted international investment and helped transform the country’s economic potential.
History of the Boreh Family in Djibouti
Boreh is a member of a large, prominent and respected family with roots across the Horn of Africa. For many generations the members of Boreh Family were recognised for their proven social and business leadership and achievements as well as their traditional acumen, fairness and philanthropy all over the Horn of Africa. The family was also prominent in the peaceful processes leading to the independence of Djibouti in 1977.
Over a century ago Boreh’s grandfather and later his father established a successful traditional trade in live stock, coffee beans, textiles and other products from Ethiopia to the markets of Somalia, Djibouti, Yemen and further afield. As the third generation prodigy Boreh got immersed very early on in his life in the family business and at the same time pursued his studies in the UK in Business and Finance. Boreh became a young, diligent businessman, quickly ready to tackle business life in Djibouti and the Horn of Africa territory. He opened his own company in 1983 that later grew to a large group of companies involved in trading, services, investments and construction.
With a very strong and well articulated African-Arabic-European culture, speaking fluently seven languages, (English, French, Italian, Arabic, Somali, Amharic, Oromo) but especially influenced by an Anglo-Saxon education and most importantly having a clear and profound understanding of the geopolitical and social environment of the Horn of Africa area, Boreh perceived very early on that he can make a difference in developing his business as well as the economical well being of Djibouti, his country.
Father of seven children, he is passionate for them to be well educated and acquire the global awareness in business and politics to be able to tackle the 21st century issues, especially in their home area.
Boreh’s business background
Following and developing the traditional family businesses in his early career, Boreh decided to work with various international companies as distributor, agent or partner in the fields of energy, road construction and tobacco business such as Grandi Motore Trieste (Italia), British American Tobacco (UK), EDF France, MAN Germany and Sugar London.
These agencies and/or distribution arrangements are still active after more than three decades. Boreh has not forgotten the local people and conditions and continues to support and nurture local businesses and local people and helps them establish small businesses often supplying them with the necessary capital.
In the 1990s, Boreh decided to take a more dynamic role to promote the business environment of Djibouti and the Horn of Africa. He was elected as the first Vice President of the Djibouti Chamber of Commerce and in this capacity created, and personally funded, an extensive business education and training programme including languages, administration and IT to give the young generation access to the necessary tools for the modern world, opportunities not available in the public sector education.
He was involved intensively with the Djibouti budget structure and process, helping to modernise and improve the framework of the public sector finances.
Boreh’s business in the fields of trading and services grew substantially in Djibouti and surrounding countries. Boreh expanded his activities by creating a construction company and by acquisitions in real estate (such as Sheraton Hotel). In this period Boreh’s financial position and capital resources grew strongly enabling him to forge partnerships with international players in the construction business. Boreh also continued building and expanding smaller activities in the retail as well as services sectors.
By the late 1990s Boreh saw an opportunity in the Dubai Jebel Ali Free Zone to develop his distribution business and established a centre for distribution and trading there to expand these activities in the Horn of Africa and beyond.
Abdourahman Boreh’s award-winning business deals
Abdourahman Boreh has a history of successful global business investments and partnership deals, including important regional projects which bring jobs and prosperity for Djibouti’s workforce.
Boreh has put together award-winning investment deals to the great benefit of Djibouti. He is sometimes described as having a ‘magic touch’ in bringing investors together and successfully organising international financing from respected global financing organisations and banks.
2004: Abdourahman Boreh was behind a loan and project development to build a Bulk Liquid Storage Terminalling facility at Doraleh village in late 2004, which is 10 kilometres from Djibouti Port on the Red Sea. The project was promoted by Boreh International FZE alongside ENOC, Independent Petroleum Group SAK in Kuwait, Essence Management Ltd, and the government of the Republic of Djibouti.
See this coverage for more information.
2007: Boreh’s companies were the drivers behind the $263 million financing for the Doraleh Container Terminal in late 2007, which was named African Transport Deal of the Year in 2007.
See this coverage for more information.
2008: Abdourahman Boreh was behind the development and financing of Djibouti’s marine terminal development at Doraleh in early 2008. This project won two prestigious finance awards, recognising its importance to both Djibouti and to its business partner and the terminal’s operator, DP World.
See this coverage for more information.
Port development in Djibouti
The war between Ethiopia and Eritrea in May 1988 led to massive unexpected activity within Djibouti as the port de facto became the only sea link for Ethiopia. During this period it became evident to Boreh that Djibouti must grasp the opportunity to create a state of the art efficient port facility in Djibouti. It was this ambition and the contacts he made in Dubai that enabled him to embark on a project for Dubai Port International (later DP World) and Dubai World to come and co-invest in Djibouti. This was the first international port investment of DP World and it paved the way for DP World to be an international player in international port investment and management.
Boreh brought his vision to the President of Djibouti who liked it and agreed for Boreh to assume all the required Presidential authority and report only to the President to bring the project into fruition. Boreh’s challenge and vision was to bring Djibouti to the efficiency level of Dubai and other international ports and centres. He successfully developed and maintains a close working relationship with DP World and its senior staff, including the Chairman.
He invested himself up front in the Djibouti Dry Port infrastructure and promoted and lobbied intensively for the Government to create the Djibouti Free Zone.
Dubai Port World obtained the concession of the Djibouti International Airport to improve this strategic infrastructure, and with JAFZA (branch of DPW) as partner they were successful to develop and manage the Djibouti Free Zone.
This was the beginning of a 10-year transformation and investment program that would radically change the social and economic development of Djibouti.
Boreh’s other business interests
Boreh’s activities expanded in the fields of commodities such as steel, cement, wood, bitumen and sugar, enabling Boreh’s trading company, Red Sea Central SARL, to become one of the biggest trading companies in the Horn of Africa.
Boreh also established companies to provide security, surveillance and other services for the US Army Base and continues to be active in the investment field. His investments include many real estate developments within the Horn of Africa and abroad including properties in France, Germany, UK, South Africa and U.A.E.
Boreh also invested in major projects such as the expanded Djibouti Dry Port, and the Free Zone infrastructure. Boreh promoted the investment by initially owning 80% of the whole investment and later got into a partnership with JAFZA (branch of DPW), retaining 40% ownership.
Boreh’s investments diversified into the oil storage terminals and he is a shareholder in Horizon Terminal in Djibouti (an oil terminal with a 300,000 cubic meters capacity) as well as in Singapore (an oil terminal with a capacity of 1,200,000 cubic meters) with ENOC (Emirate National Oil Company).
He set a partnership with Taisi Corporation, a Japanese world leader in construction, to build the Djibouti Kempinski Palace in record time to be ready for the COMESA summit in 2006.
Through Djibouti Investment Development, 99% owned by Boreh in a joint venture with a Lebanese construction company, Boreh built 49 luxury villas and a 160 low-cost housing unit compound for Nakheel.
Boreh created approximately 4,000 jobs in his various projects in Djibouti but more importantly created and promoted the acquisition of much needed skills by the labour supply of the country and there now exists a well trained pool of skilled labour in Djibouti in many fields. Boreh personally sponsored and sponsors talented students throughout his career.
Other causes supported by Boreh
Boreh promotes and funds education and health programmes for the general public. He also sponsors cultural and sporting activities in the Horn of Africa, including local arts such as music, folklore and folk dance.
Boreh sponsored the biggest football team in Djibouti for more than 20 years, several times winning the national cup and with his team contributing no less than eight players to national team.
Social responsibility in a small and poor country like Djibouti is mandatory for a successful businessman like Boreh, so whenever disasters, natural or man-made and associated events occur, Boreh is prompt to react and help.
This was especially true in 2008 with the latest border conflict in the north of the country. He successfully obtained agreement from Dubai authorities to donate a 160 units housing compound in the Doraleh area to support the poor surrounding population. Boreh found the land, participated in the cost of the project and built the houses on a non-profit basis.
For over fifteen years Boreh took active interest in the economic, political and legal affairs of Djibouti. Boreh’s term in the Chamber of Commerce indicated to him that he could do a great deal to improve these areas and his activities culminated in an active role in Presidential elections of 1999 under which the current President was elected with Boreh’s support. Boreh also supported the President’s constitutional re-election in 2005.
After the election Boreh became personal advisor to the President. He counselled him in many political achievements such as the final Reconciliation Agreement made with the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD) in February 2000 and was regularly called to advise on foreign policy, especially during serious disputes related to Somalia and Eritria.
Boreh represented the Djibouti Government in the successful negotiations and agreement for the establishment of the US army base in Djibouti.
Boreh has acted as the Ambassador of the Djibouti Government and successfully promoted the stability of Djibouti law and political system to attract investors to Djibouti. Boreh, as President of the Djibouti Port and Free Zone Authority from 2000 to 2009, played a major role in developing the legal framework required to promote and liberalize the business of the Free Zone and succeeded in positioning Djibouti as a strategically located hub for the Horn of Africa and the extended geographical zone (East Africa, Sudan, Yemen and the Red Sea).