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Somaliland: Berbera Port is of Strategic Importance to Ethiopia” Amb Tesfaye

The federal government of Ethiopia is fully supportive of the Berbera port Development contract awarded DP world by the government of Somaliland.

This was stated by the Ethiopian General Consul for Somaliland , Brigadier General Berhe Tesfaye during an interview with Journalist Mahmud Walaleye in Hargeisa.

“From the onset Ethiopia committed to the contract to modernize Berbera port” Said Gen Tesfaye adding that Proof is in the fact that the federal government in Ethiopia was involved from day one.

The Hargeisa based Ethiopia diplomat was referring to the $420m and 30 contract which the Somaliland government awarded DP World an Emirati owned global enabler.

Shares of  the  contract see the Emirati firm retain 51% while the government of Somaliland has 30% with the balance of 19% going to Ethiopia.

The Dubai state-owned port operator which took over contractual obligations at the Berbera port early last year has initiated an expansion project worth $101m.

To jumpstart the mainly infrastructural expansion project was a foundation stone laying function at port by the Somaliland Vice President Abdirahman Sayli who was flanked  by Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem the Group Chairman and CEO of DP World.

The expansion project went a step further a day later , 10th October 2018, when Somaliland and DP world officials congregated at the Presidency in Hargeisa where a infrastructural Development sub-contract was awarded Emirati firm Shafa Al Nahda.

While the  Berbera port Development contract has three share holders only two namely Somaliland and DP World were present, thus raising questions pertaining to the absence of Ethiopia.

The absence of Ethiopia at a function related to Berbera port raised eyebrows in Somaliland resulting in Opposition party Wadani claiming that “the Federal government of Ethiopia is dispense with contractual ongoing”

Queries on non participation by any Ethiopian Official at the signing of the At the Shafa Al Nahda contract signing ceremony General Berhe Tesfaye Said

“We were fully apprised of the event and failure to personally not attended should not be misconstrued as dissatisfaction with the port deal by Ethiopia”

Acknowledging that political parties and citizens in any country have a right to be interested in national issues, the diplomat was quick to point out that “in this instance the claims by Wadani Party were unfounded”

Since Eritrea gained its independence from Ethiopia in 1993, Ethiopia became landlocked and therefore dependent on its neighbours – especially Djibouti – for access to international markets.

“This dependency has hampered Ethiopia’s development” says Gen Berhe Tesfaye thus the strategic importance of access to Berbera port in Somaliland.

To remedy this dependency on its economic growth as pertains to imports and exports  landlocked Ethiopia has  actively pursued  partnership in the refurbishment and development of other ports in the region: Port Sudan in Sudan, Berbera in Somaliland and Mombasa in Kenya.

But it is Berbera, in particular, that will prove the most beneficial to Ethiopia because the port Is closest to Ethiopia and will connect the eastern, primarily Somali region of Ethiopia to Addis Ababa. It will also provide a much needed outlet for trade, particularly the export of livestock and agriculture.

Therefore, stresses Ethiopia’s General Consul in Hargeisa,  Brigadier General Berhe Tesfaye “The development and expansion of the port at Berbera is of strategic importance for his country” thence any allusion to dissatisfaction are false.

Though Ethiopia is yet to formally recognize Somaliland as sovereign nation, it was the first country to establish a fully fledged diplomatic mission in Hargeisa not to mention the very fruitful agreements between the two countries especially as pertains to trade, security and cross border movement of people.

Addis Ababa is also the major international gateway for citizens of Somaliland whose passport is a accepted as a boba fide travel document.

Though Ethiopia might soon start using the the Eritrean port Masawa the interests of this giant Horn of Africa country in Berbera port remain firm.

To add the Eritrean ports will depend on  implementation of the Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship signed by Eritrea and Ethiopia that brought to end a two decades conflict between the two countries.

As a New Year gift for the peoples of both countries, the cessation of conflict did not only see exchange of diplomats but official visits to each other’s capital by President Afeworki of Eritrea and Ethiopia’s  PM Abiy Ahmed.

On the 5th Sept 2018 Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed arrived in Asamar, two-day visit in Eritrea on his way back home from the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Summit.

During his  visit and flanked by his host president Isaiah’s Afeworki, the Ethiopian PM and his delegation made inspection of massawa port a priority.

Though the dynamics of the peace arrangement between Ethiopia and Eritrea have changed the political, security and economic scenario in the Horn of Africa region and east Africa as well it remains a fact that Berbera port remains of major interest to authorities in Addis Ababa.

In conclusion we echo Ethiopia’s diplomat to Somaliland, Brigadier General Berhe Tesfaye, “ failure to attended Berbera Port function should not be misconstrued as dissatisfaction with the port deal by Ethiopia”

 

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