There are 10 major ports on the Red Sea which transact 10% of the world economy and Ethiopia needs a port primarily for promoting her own trade network and acquisition of maritime trade route and for the economic development of the country. Ethiopia’s average GDP amounts to 110 billion USD and the nation imports goods worth 14-16 billion USD about 90% of which is through ports. Ethiopia imports 4 billion USD worth fuel and 12.5 million quintals of fertilizers and pays 1.6 billion USD for port services every year because the country has no port of her own.
As a member of BRICS, Ethiopia can effectively utilize her membership for boosting trade, investment, development of new technologies in every economic sector. Ownership and access to ports will certainly help to swiftly accelerate the socio-economic development of the country.
In terms of geopolitical and geostrategic priorities, as Tim Marshall has noted, being a prisoner of geography is embracing poverty. It is important to turn the geopolitical and geostatic location of Ethiopia from a threat a comparative advantage for the economic development of the country. With its proximity to the Red Sea, Ethiopia connects Arica with Europe, Middle East, Indian Ocean, Strait of Bab el Mandeb, Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf. If Ethiopia acquires ports and naval base, the country can contribute to the safety and security of its own commercial vessels and ships of other countries across the world.
Ethiopia’s strategic and geostrategic location and its proximity to the Red Sea which hosts 10% of world trade with the length of 2,500kms linking the Mediterranean Sea with the Indian Ocean, Middle East, Persian Gulf and Far East Countries. Ethiopia is at close proximity with major important ports on both sides of the Red Sea including the ports of Jeddah, Port Sudan, Massawa, Assab, Djibouti, Berbera, and Another 10 ports belonging to Saudi Arabia, 15 sea ports of Somalia, Berbera Port of Somaliland, and Mombasa port of Kenya.
Ethiopia has far greater cultural, linguistic and social relations not only with the neighboring countries but also with all the Red Sea littoral states and beyond. Acquiring ports will help to strengthen cultural relations with these countries and strengthen people to people relations. This is important to promote peaceful relation among the countries around the Red Sea and beyond.
Ethiopia will further enhance her political assertiveness among the countries of the world and could advocate for economic pan Africanism in which African countries can use their own resources for developing their collective and national economies instead of serving only as raw material resources for the more advanced countries in the west.
Ethiopia’s leading role as a promoter of pan Africanism and major source of renewable energy for African economic integration would be enhanced for the benefit of African countries in which case these countries are expected to share their ports with the country for mutual economic benefit.
It must be clear to every citizen that when it comes to Ethiopia, her legal request for ports does not have anything to do with politics. Some misinforms who are busy on the social media contest the timing of the request and suggest the prevalence of absolute peace in the country before the issue of ports is raised. A question comes into the mind as when is the appropriate time for ensuring total peace in the country? The same people who cause havoc on the social media outlets and declare war in the country try to link the issue of obtaining port and port services with the prevalence of absolute peace. The truth is, they are adding fuel to the crisis in the country because they are sure to secure financial benefits from spreading false, sensational and fabricated news.
Ethiopia used to be a major owner of ports and a strong naval force in the Horn of Africa for thousands of years but lost access to the sea because of internal and external conspiracies conducted on the country. It is now high time to reverse this with full cooperation from the people and government of Ethiopia.
BY SOLOMON DIBABA
THE ETHIOPIAN HERALD FRIDAY 27 OCTOBER 2023