New grain and fertiliser terminal in Djibouti on the African East Coast



Alain de Visscher, Vigan Engineering S.A., Nivelles, Belgium


The Djibouti Republic is located in the Gulf of Aden north of Somalia and across from Yemen, all located at the southern end of the Red Sea between Africa and the Arabic Peninsula.

This small country of about 23,000 square kilometres and less than 800,000 inhabitants has traditional excellent trade relationships with nearby countries. For instance its port plays an important role for supply of goods to Ethiopia.

At the end of 2005, the company SDTV (Compagnie Djiboutienne de Gestion du Terminal Vraquier) awarded Vigan Engineering S.A as the main contractor for the construction and delivery of a new grain and fertiliser terminal in Djibouti.

The main terminal criteria for this new and state-of-the art terminal are:

• The fast and efficient unloading and loading of cereals and fertilisers

• Minimising port congestion and waiting time for bulk vessels

• Increase the development of Port Authority operations and the host country in general

• Generate local employment and partnerships

• Expedite food aid cargoes (World Food Programme) and fertiliser shipment to neighbouring countries

The investment of about US$ 40 million realised during the period 2006 – 2007, was financed by:

• MIDROC group (owned by Sheik Mohammed Hussein Hussein Al Amoudi)

• African Bank Development

• Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector

MIDROC group is a conglomerate of companies with activities in the petroleum industry as well as many other areas such engineering and construction, tourism, manufacturing, real estate, logistics, etc.

The new terminal has already received several ships since its inauguration on December 21, 2006. According to Michael Nzai, Operational Manager of the SDTV (Société Djiboutienne du Terminal Vraquier), the unloading of the Liberty Grace, which arrived on January 9th, was carried out in four or five days, thanks to two Vigan pneumatic unloaders (300 MTPH each) and several belt conveyor systems with a discharging capacity of more than 10,000 tonnes per day.

This kind of operation in the past has lasted for 10 to 12 days. The bagging operations started the following day thanks to the 12 weighing scales and bagging units. The fertilisers unit will enter into operation by the second half of 2007.

Main characteristics

The annual volume of one million tonnes to be discharged will be divided between agribulks and fertilisers with a variable percentage between them according to the economical and market conditions in Dibouti and nearby countries. On an area of 30,000 square metres bordered by a quay of 350 metres are two main warehouses: one for agribulks and the other for fertilisers. Each one’s dimensions are 144 x 40 metres and have between 30 and 40,000 tonnes of storage capacity according to  the product characteristics. The grains to be handled are mainly corn and wheat; most of the fertilisers will be DAP and urea.


For the unloading of cereals, Vigan has manufactured and commissioned two NIV 300 pneumatic ship unloaders with a total unloading capacity of 600 metric tonnes per hour.

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