CJTF-HOA Extends Itself to Djiboutian Businesses
Contract and facilities managers from Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa and Camp Lemonnier took a major step toward advancing the economic development of Djibouti and regional stability through an event called Vendor Day at Djibouti's Chamber of Commerce Headquarters, December 22, 2009.
The event drew nearly 100 Djiboutian businessmen and women, bridging African companies to the many maintenance, service, supply and construction contracts that support CJTF-HOA, Camp Lemonnier and projects throughout East Africa.
"It's a win-win situation for both us and the local business community, and for the nations we're looking to support," said U.S. Navy Captain Greg Johnson, chief of contracts, CJTF-HOA, and the event's coordinator. "We help Africans find African solutions to African problems, and the key is boosting the capabilities of local business communities."
Vendor Day introduced the various business opportunities and entities available at both Camp Lemonnier and CJTF-HOA, which is a tenant of the camp. Djiboutian businesses got a firsthand look of not only the U.S. contracting system, and asked questions from those who make the decisions -- the directors of the contracting systems. They make up three components, including Naval Facilities; Pacific Architect Engineers; and CJTF-HOA Contingency Contracting Office. The event helped streamline access to these entities so that Djiboutian businesses can compete for contracts -- something that Johnson sees as important for everyone involved.
"We need to develop business relationships with the local businesses in Djibouti. The better we do that, the better job we can do in supporting command objectives," said Johnson. "By doing so, we can source our requirements here locally. Otherwise we would have to send back to the U.S. and then wait for those things to be delivered, so the closer we can source logistics the faster the response time and also it makes it a cheaper commodity."
Johnson estimated that 25 percent of the $48 million spent last year for contracts was spent within the Djibouti economy. Another 50 percent was spent in other East African countries and the remainder with European and U.S. companies.
Organizers and business leaders believe Vendor Day was a great first step in building business relationships in Djibouti. Djibouti's Chamber of Commerce President Said Omar Moussa sees this event as a stepping stone to ensuring region stability.
"The communication for this first (event) has been good. We have a good relationship with Camp Lemonnier. What we want to have is something concrete between the two business communities," said Moussa.
Moussa further explained that poverty -- a byproduct of unemployment -- is a leading cause to push people into extremism acts.
Organizers hope that Vendor Day will be the first of many to follow.