By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jared E. Walker
President Ismail Omar Guelleh was the honorary guest for a commemorative signing event held at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Nov. 5.
This commemorative event celebrated the Multiple Award Construction Contract awardees, who were awarded under U.S. legislation Djibouti First. Djibouti First was designed to strengthen the U.S.-Djibouti bilateral relationship by increasing the economic impact on the local economy.
Camp Lemonnier Commanding Officer, Capt. Nancy Lacore said the U.S. is committed to encouraging investment and long-term economic growth in the Republic of Djibouti.
“Djibouti provides a very strategic location for U.S. military operations,” Lacore said. “As the only enduring U.S. military installation on the continent, we at Camp Lemonnier are grateful to President Guelleh and the people of Djibouti for the sustained hospitality and support.”
The installation is one of the largest employers in Djibouti, with over 1,000 Djiboutian employees working on the base.
“We continually seek opportunities to buy locally, spending more than $10 million annually on local services and products,” Lacore said. “This Multiple Award Construction Contract, which we are celebrating today, has the potential to bring millions to the Republic of Djibouti.”
United States Embassy Djibouti Charge d’ Affairs, J. Alexander Hamilton, said the contract was awarded under the Djibouti First Program that passed in 2015.
“Since January 2015, tens of millions of dollars’ worth of contracts have been awarded to Djibouti First eligible vendors,” Hamilton said. “Indeed, in 2016 alone, the United States contributed over 200 million dollars to the Djiboutian economy, representing nearly 14 percent of the total Gross Domestic Product.”
In fiscal year 2017, the National Defense Authorization Act expanded Djibouti First to what is now known as Africa First to countries where the United States has long-term agreements with host nations in the African region.
“Through Africa First, Djiboutian businesses will be eligible for preferential bidding not just in Djibouti, but across the entire continent of Africa,” Hamilton said. “This move will open more markets to Djiboutian businesses, and will give local enterprises the opportunity and incentive to scale up.”
Djibouti Foreign Affairs Minister, Mahamoud Ali Youssouf, said the Djiboutian government expects to see more American development programs in the economy.
“This is the best way to lay the foundation of a sustainable and mutually beneficial relationship between the United States and the Republic of Djibouti,” Youssouf said. “The United States and the Republic of Djibouti remain committed to the fight against terror, piracy and … trafficking in persons for the sake of peace and security in our region, in particular, and in the world at large.”
Hamilton stated both the military partners at Camp Lemonnier and the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti are committed to continuing to strengthen the relationship between the two countries.
“The United States is a long-term partner of Djibouti, of the government, and of the people, Hamilton said. “As long-term partners, we want to see Djibouti, and the Djiboutian people, prosper and thrive.”
The strong and lasting partnership with the Djiboutians has enabled Camp Lemmonier to efficiently and effectively execute the eight lines of operations, which ensure mission accomplishment of U.S. and Allied forces in the region.
Camp Lemonnier is one of Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia, installations that conducts eight lines of operation to support air operations, port operations, safety, security, housing, MWR, Fleet and Family Support and what is called the core: the fuels, water and power that keep the bases operating.
Camp Lemonnier’s mission includes enabling joint warfighters operating forward and to reinforce the U.S. – Djibouti relationship by providing exceptional services and facilities for the tenant commands, transient U.S. assets and service members.