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DP World, the economic ruler of the East African coast, at what cost?

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Message Mesut Yilmaz

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Several controversies in the last decade have shined a light on the way DP World, the third biggest ports operator in the world, was doing business in Africa. Those controversies illustrate perfectly how a multinational company has used predatory business practices to extend its domination on the African coasts.

The most recent controversy started a few weeks ago while the Kenyan government was looking for a concessionaire to manage the Second Container Terminal at the Port of Mombasa [i]. DP World was one of the bidders and used their power peddlers to make Kenyan officials in charge of the National Treasury's Private-Public-Partnership introduce several addendums to the initial tender documents. The contracting authority, The Kenya Ports Authority, protested against these changes, which occurred just after the end of the technical evaluation. They made most of the participants withdraw their candidacy, favoring DP World, which will probably win the concession. Nevertheless, many irregularities occured in this bidding process and it is likely that the other companies involved will have enough material to bring the case into court. This event has also damaged diplomatic relations between Kenya and Japan. One of the participants, represented by Hideo Uguchi, the chief representative of the Japan International Corporation, said that this matter could affect Tokyo's aid to Kenya.

In Senegal, another resounding controversy occurred following the signing in 2007 of a 25-year concession for DP World to operate the port in Dakar. The Senegalese government accused the Emirati Company of conniving with ex-Minister Karim Wade, son of the former ex-Senegalese President, in order to acquire the Dakar concession over the other bidders. For Karim Wade, this was only a small part of the illegal activities in which he was involved during the 12 years of his father's reign of corruption and nepotism. For DP World, Karim Wade was apparently just another greedy political figure to bribe [ii].

This company has also been accused by the Djiboutian government of illegal and corrupt moves to take control of the concession of the Doraleh Container Terminal in Djibouti [iii]. The Djiboutian government filed a claim against DP World at the London's Court of International Arbitration and the trial is currently in process.

[i] http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/corruption-accusations-threaten-expansion-project-port

[ii] http://www.france24.com/en/20130417-senegal-karim-wade-son-former-senegalese-leader-charged-with-corruption

[iii] http://www.wsj.com/articles/djibouti-files-arbitration-against-dp-world-over-alleged-corruption-in-port-deal-1404895724

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Turkish freelance columnist, former columnist at the Turkish daily Newspaper BirGÃ n
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