The regional tour by the Ethiopian prime minister that took Dr. Abiy Ahmed to Djibouti, Sudan and Kenya demonstrated the extent of the country’s thirst for access to sea water.
The chief of staff in the Ethiopian prime minister’s office, Fitsun Arega explained that Abiy’s visits to Ethiopia’s neighbours were geared towards creating a meaningful economic union.
‘‘Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan will now work towards a true economic union with joint investments and ownership of projects because our people’s shared prosperity and security depends on it,’‘ said Fitsun told The EastAfrican newspaper.
Ethiopia signs more port deals
Abiy made his first foreign trip as prime minister to Djibouti where he met president Omar Guelleh and the two leaders reached a deal for Ethiopia to take a stake in the Port of Djibouti.
The port currently handles up to 95% of inbound trade for landlocked Ethiopia. The desire to cut reliance on this port, reduce congestion and cut costs is thought to be the reason behind this move to invest in the region’s ports, roads, railways and aviation projects.
Djibouti had been seeking investors for its port since it terminated Dubai’s state-owned DP World’s concession to run the port two months ago, citing a failure to resolve a six-year contractual dispute.
Ethiopia would give Djibouti the option of taking stakes in state owned Ethiopian firms including the lucrative Ethiopian Airlines.
The deal with Djibouti followed Ethiopia’s agreement to acquire a 19 percent stake in the Port of Berbera in the breakaway Somali region of Somaliland.
Port Sudan and the Ethiopian Dam
Abiy then headed to Sudan where he and president Omar Hassan al Bashir agreed a deal that will allow Ethiopia to have a stake in Port Sudan.