Aqaba Development Corporation – The New Birthplace of Opportunity
Aqaba Development Corporation is doing valuable work in transforming Aqaba into the home of investment for the 2020s.
Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC), the central development arm of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority, was launched in 2004. ADC is owned by the Government of Jordan and Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority and is mandated to build new infrastructure and required superstructure, expand existing utilities, create necessary business enablers as well as manage and operate key facilities for ASEZ. As the corporation owns the Zone’s ports, airport and strategic parcels of land, as well as the development and management rights for these assets and key infrastructure and utilities, its portfolio ranges from transportation, logistics and services to tourism, education, health, and industry. ADC has successfully formed several public-private partnerships with internationally renowned operators to key strategic utilities. A private shareholding company, ADC PPPs include BOT contracts, joint ventures and other contractual frameworks.
ADC’s main PPPs in Aqaba include Aqaba Container Terminal(ACT), Aqaba Ports Marine Services Company(APMSCO), Aqaba Air Cargo Terminal(NAS), and Aqaba Logistics Village(ALV), Aqaba National Real Estate Project and many more. Such partnerships have significantly enhanced the services these facilities can provide, building capacity on both the institutional and employee levels through the transfer of knowledge and international experience while generating revenue for ADC and its partners.
“Aqaba has a strategic location and offers the world state-of-the-art infrastructure and services in a competitive investment environment,” says Mohammad Al-Sakran, Executive Director ADC. “Aqaba is indeed reclaiming its historical role as the gateway to the Levant and MENA region.”
“Over the past 15 years ADC, guided by the Zone’s masterplan set by the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) and in line with the government’s strategies and priorities to develop Aqaba’s infrastructure, has enhanced the Zone’s investment competitiveness and connectivity,” Al-Sakran tells us.
ADC is the landlord of Aqaba ports community, mandated by ASEZA through a main development agreement to develop and improve the efficiency, capacity and the operational performance of all terminals, thus, it was entrusted with the mission to develop, expand, and upgrade the Zone’s ports community and logistics services. ADC proudly reports that it has embarked on a port community development masterplan that has resulted in the Zone’s having 12 terminals capable of handling all types of goods.
Additionally, the Zone’s supply chain logistics network received major enhancement in terms of infrastructure, process digitalisation, and human capital capacity building as well safety and security measures resulting in increased efficiency and reduced cost. Today Aqaba contains five major logistics centres with more than 1.8 million square metres of logistics area.
King Hussein International Airport, another strategic utility owned by ADC, remains a key catalyst to the Zone’s positioning as a tourism destination. Operating under the open skies airport policy, the airport has an annual handling capacity of 2 million passengers and is also home to a state-of-the-art air cargo terminal.
“COVID-19 poses as a global challenge. This is where partnership, digitalization, adaptability become more vital than ever,” says Al-Sakran. “The impact of COVID-19 on Aqaba’s port community and logistics sector has been limited throughout the COVID-19 situation, due to the countermeasures that the government of Jordan, the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority, ADC, Jordan Maritime Commission and other government and private sector entities have taken at a very early stage of the crisis. All Aqaba Ports continued to operate on a 24/7 basis and all gate, yard and quay activities continued to operate as usual and sometimes at higher levels than pre-COVID19 times.”
Aqaba Container Terminal recorded a 4% increase in total throughput in TEUs for the first half of 2020 compared to first half of 2019. This is reflected in a 4% increase in the volume of TEUs imported for the first half 2020 compared to the same period last year combined with a 5% decline in exports due to ongoing lockdowns in destination countries.
Digitalisation has always been a priority for Aqaba, and ADC has started investing in the e-commerce and e-logistics industries while in parallel investing in building capacity through ADC’s partnership with an EU program, the YEP MED Program. The program’s goal is to provide and train youth with proper advanced tools and skills using innovative learning tools and methodologies supported by new technologies.
Jordan’s Future Vision
The expansion King Hussein International Airport passenger terminals is an example of the kind of opportunities Aqaba Development Corporation can create.
In partnership with stakeholders from both the public and private sector in Jordan, the development of the Jordan National Railway project is envisioned to boost the country’s capabilities immensely, particularly with regards to the transport logistics supply chain. The project will directly contribute to lowering container and cargo transport cost. It will have a positive effect on safety and the environment. Finally, as the railway is to connect Aqaba ports community with strategic logistics dry ports, and neighbouring countries in the future, it will play a significant role in developing the sector as a whole, utilising the latest technology, saving time and cost, enhancing safety and security measures and streamlining the process in general.
Future projects also include the development of Aqaba’s existing Cruise Ship Terminal, crucial to Aqaba’s tourism industry, expanding King Hussein International Airport passenger terminal and most importantly facilitating the increase of direct flights to Aqaba from a number of destinations that are vital to the tourism industry.
Al-Sakran points out, “We are also tackling the e-commerce business model, eager to maximise Aqaba’s potential in this vital field as well as the e-logistics field. Creating an ecosystem that encourages digital innovation and entrepreneurship is also key to Aqaba and Jordan’s future vision.”