Ethiopia offers part in dam project, airline shares to neighbors in exchange for access to sea port

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed outlines win-win strategy to secure maritime access

Ethiopia offered neighboring countries a part in its dam project and shares in its national airline in a diplomatic move Tuesday to address its maritime challenges.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed presented the proposal during an address to parliament, where he emphasized the need for a win-win approach in negotiations for sea access.

“Ethiopia didn’t ask an inappropriate question that is out of the law. Ethiopia has no desire to fire a shot at neighboring countries. But we are saying let us discuss this in terms of the law and business,” he said.

Abiy said despite experiencing significant growth in its population and the economy, Ethiopia finds itself without a direct route to the sea, and that has prompted the government to explore innovative solutions to address the strategic concern.

“We have no intention of threatening the sovereignty of any nation, but we would like a rules-based access to the Red Sea. Our request is to initiate discussions towards sustainable solutions,” he said.

The prime minister expressed gratitude to Djibouti for its pivotal role in supporting Ethiopia’s growth and development by permitting the use of its port facilities over the past years.

Ethiopia lost its Red Sea ports in the early 1990s after the Eritrean War of Independence, which lasted from 1961 to 1991.

In 1991, Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia, leading to the establishment of two separate nations, the separation resulted in Ethiopia losing direct access to the Red Sea and key ports.

Ethiopia has since been landlocked, affecting its ability to conduct efficient maritime trade.


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