Hailemariam Desalegn, the Ethiopian Prime Minister has identified poverty as the main underlying factor of instability in the Horn of Africa region. He added that economic integration was a sure means to secure the region.
The 52-year-old Premier who just ended a three-day official visit to Sudan was addressing Khartoum-based diplomatic community and Sudanese intellectuals.
His research paper titled: ‘Horn of Africa: Possibilities of an Economic Community,’ stressed the need for the region despite its security challenges to build global competitiveness via economic integration.
“The time is now for Africans to play their role by filling the market gap observed at the global level,” he is quoted to have said.
The Horn of Africa region is dogged by terrorism from al-Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab in next door Somalia. Sudan and South Sudan all have internal crisis that affects the entire region.
Ethiopia is seen as a major player – politically, economically and security-wise in the region. Aside Eritrea, with who they have a long drawn border dispute, Addis Ababa is on good terms with all its other neighbours.
The Eritrea border spat is not the only security headache Addis Ababa suffers. Internal security issues rising from anti-government protests in parts of the country led to a state of emergency that was only recently lifted after 10 months period. It was imposed in 2016 October to quell the protests.
Ethiopia is actively engaged in the fight against Somalia’s insurgent group, Al-Shabaab. They contribute to the Africa Union mission (AMISOM) and also deploy troops independently to combat insurgents and anti-peace elements.