Beirut brings in German consultants for harbour redevelopment

04 December 2020 3 min. read

Lebanon has called on two German consultancies – Roland Berger and Hamburg Port Consulting – to lead redevelopment efforts for the Port of Beirut, after a devastating explosion destroyed the harbour back in August.

The August 4th blast made global headlines. Nearly 3,000 tonnes of highly flammable ammonium nitrate – equating to more than a kiloton of TNT – was set off inadvertently in the Port of Beirut, killing hundreds, injuring thousands, and leaving 300,000 people homeless through tens of billions in property damage.

Months later as the city turns to recovery, high on the priority list is to rebuild the Port of Beirut – one of the largest and busiest ports on the Eastern Mediterranean, and a lifeline for the Lebanese economy. Charting the course ahead are two German consultancies – strategy consultancy Roland Berger and Hamburg Port Consulting (HPC).

The redevelopment of Beirut’s harbour will cost billions

“We have been shocked by the explosion that occurred on August 4. Given our longstanding relations with Beirut, we immediately offered our support and help,” noted Suheil Mahayni, Managing Director at Hamburg Port Consulting. Mahayni also expressed the firm’s willingness to support the with “further consultancy, reconstruction and operations of the Port of Beirut.” 

For now, this means compiling a strategic plan for the redevelopment process. Hamburg Port Consulting and Roland Berger are preparing a proposal, which suggests multiple options to rebuild the Port of Beirut better than before – complete with financing and investment strategies. Some of the key objectives are to better integrate the port with the city, and minimise future hazards.

Each consultancy brings something unique to the table. Hamburg Port Consulting works with marine, air and rail ports around the world to help them improve efficiency and competitiveness – through transport economics, terminal planning & logistics, port security & safety, personnel organisation and digital transformation & innovation among other services.

Roland Berger is a strategy and management consultancy of global acclaim, with expertise in among others strategy, operations consulting, restructuring, performance transformation and digitalisation across a wide range of industries. For the project, Roland Berger will provide expertise on strategic positioning and the port’s institutional setup, delivered by a team from its office in Beirut with experts flown-in from others offices.

The combined report is still in production, and is expected to be delivered in a few weeks. Rebuilding the Port of Beirut is seen as an essential step in the right direction for the economy and the Lebanese people.

The work comes at a time of major socio-economic disruption in Lebanon. Once known as the Paris of the Middle East, the country is on the brink of an economic meltdown, much of the slide owing to a corrupt and incapable political establishment.

Last week another top international consultancy, Alvarez & Marsal, pulled the plug from work it was doing in Lebanon following a disagreement with its client: Lebanon’s central bank.