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Djibouti Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh's family, which extends across sub-clans of the Issa and Issaq, dominate the economy and government. An orderly transfer of power to Guelleh's advisor, Naguib Abdallah Kamil, is likely before 2020 presidential elections. The ruling Union for a Presidential Majority (Union Pour la Majorité Présidentielle: UMP) won 89% of the seats at legislative elections in February 2018, having co-opted support from ethnic-Afar elites – the largest opposition bloc.Inter-state war between Djibouti and Eritrea is unlikely. This is because the US and EU are likely to focus diplomatic efforts on resolving a territorial dispute over the Doumeira peninsula, after the UN in November 2018 removed sanctions against Eritrea, and said it would facilitate arbitration.IHS Markit forecasts real GDP growth of 5.5% in 2019, driven by port development and improved trade logistics. However, key projects are almost entirely financed by a mixture of concessional and commercial loans from the Export-Import Bank of China. This has already resulted in Djibouti’s external debt burden reaching 85% of GDP in 2016, versus 50% in 2014.Djibouti’s fiscal base is not well-diversified, remaining reliant on logistics. A forecast budget deficit of 10.9% of GDP in 2019 will probably increase pressure to raise revenue. This could be met by selectively removing the 50-year corporate tax and custom duties exemptions offered under the Freezone Code, and implement the less favourable Investment Code. Chinese state-owned enterprises are least affected.The judiciary is influenced by the UMP. The legal status of contracts in infrastructure construction is weak. Legal changes in November 2017 permitted the government to cancel any infrastructure development contract that contravenes the public interest. DP-World’s management concession for the Doraleh Container Terminal was cancelled in February 2018 without compensation. The London Court of International Arbitration ruled in August that the contract remained “valid and binding”.
Last update: May 10, 2019

Operational Outlook

President Guelleh's family dominates the construction, logistics, telecoms, and tourism sectors through Issa and Issaq sub-clans. Parastatal companies affiliated with the health minister, who is challenging the president's succession plans, are likely to be targeted by an anti-corruption audit in 2019. Personalised commercial relationships expose foreign investors to bribery and corruption risks when dealing with Djiboutian contractors. Bribes are typically sought when bidding for tenders and, likewise, facilitation fees are demanded during approval processes. Private-sector labour unrest is rare and the government has legal powers to respond punitively.

Last update: March 28, 2019

Terrorism

Moderate

Elements of the now largely dismantled anti-government FRUD-Armé are likely to exploit grievances among ethnic-Afar stemming from the political domination of the Issa clan. The Djiboutian military has neutralised the FRUD-Armé's capability to conduct small arms attacks against military assets and convoys in the Obock region. Separately, Djibouti's military participation in the regional African Union Mission in Somalia and hosting of French US military bases make it an aspirational target for Al-Shabaab militants. However, the group has limited access to local support networks that are typically necessary to evade the security services during the planning and preparation phases. Western hotels are otherwise priority targets.

Last update: June 21, 2019

Crime

Opportunistic petty crimes are common, motivated by a high level of unemployment, especially among youth. Most reported incidents involve pick-pocketing and minor theft. The rural population in some parts of Obock, Tadjourah, and Dikhil do still have access to small arms, so violent crime does occur occasionally.

Last update: May 10, 2019

War Risks

The primary inter-state war threat to Djibouti stems from the government's dispute with neighbouring Eritrea over sovereignty of the strategic Doumeira mountains. Progress towards a resolution is likely to be slow in 2019 as Eritrea has been unwilling to engage in United Nations-facilitated arbitration since the UN lifted sanctions against it in November 2018. An escalation to inter-state war is unlikely, with China acting as a credible constraint to safeguard major economic and military investments in Djibouti. Escalation is unlikely, but a probable pathway would be elements of the Djiboutian government supporting ethnic-Issa protests along a key trade route in land-locked Ethiopia's Afar region.

Last update: March 28, 2019

Social Stability

Moderate

The opposition is largely prevented from mobilising effective anti-government demonstrations in the capital, Djibouti City, where security forces exercise punitive powers. No protests were reported during the February 2018 legislative elections. Anti-government protests outside the capital are also unlikely in 2019 because the ruling party has captured ethnic Afar elites, which reduces their incentive to support protest action. Afar residents in the Obock and Tadjoura state capitals will, however, probably organise protests against government-backed land expropriation, affecting Chinese, French, and Turkish companies. Anti-government protests in Tadjoura's capital would occur if government officials support Arta's ownership of the disputed Lake Assal region.

Last update: April 25, 2019

Health Risk

Very high

Vaccines required to enter the country

Yellow fever: There is no risk of contracting yellow fever in Djibouti. However, the government requires proof of vaccination for travelers arriving from countries with a risk of yellow fever transmission. A single dose of YF vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained life-long immunity against the disease.

Vaccines recommended for all travelers

Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).

Vaccines recommended for most travelers

Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.

Malaria: There is currently no malaria vaccine. However, various antimalarial prophylactics are available by prescription and can reduce risk of infection by up to 90 percent. Different medications are prescribed depending on the risk level and the strains of the virus present in the destination. Antimalarial tablets need to be taken throughout the trip to be effective and may need to be taken for as long as four weeks following the trip.

Typhoid fever: The typhoid fever vaccine can be administered via injection (administered in one dose) or orally (four doses). The vaccine is only 50-80 percent effective, so travelers to areas with a risk of exposure to typhoid fever, a bacterial disease, should also take hygienic precautions (e.g. drink only bottled water, avoid undercooked foods, wash hands regularly, etc.). Children can be given the shot beginning at two years of age (six for the oral vaccine).

Vaccines recommended for some travelers

Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.

Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).

Last update: April 5, 2019

Natural Risks

Elevated

Djibouti is located in an active seismic zone.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Infrastructure

Transportation and hotel infrastructure is lacking.

Paved roads are rare and the majority of roads are in poor condition. In theory, landmines are no longer present in the country; however, to be on the safe side, it is advisable to not venture too far from marked roads. Travel in the interior of the country should been undertaken in a convoy of at least two vehicles.

The safety of train travel cannot be guaranteed. There is only one line linking Djibouti to Dire-Daoua in Ethiopia.

Finally, telecommunication networks are limited in the capital and practically nonexistent outside of the capital.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

The climate in Djibouti is hot and very arid.

Temperatures are the highest from May to October and this “hot season” can be grueling. The months from May to September are also very wet and humid. There is, however, no distinct rainy season.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +253
Police: 17
Fire Dept.: 18
Central Police Station: 35 38 91
National Gendarmerie: 35 10 03

Electricity

Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019