Category Archives: Ethiopia

Ethiopia-Somaliland deal makes waves in Horn of Africa


The deal has caused outrage in Somalia

Somalia has ruled out mediation with Ethiopia unless Addis Ababa cancels a controversial deal that it recently made with the self-declared republic of Somaliland.

The 1 January agreement has been causing ructions in the Horn of Africa after Somaliland said it would lease part of its coastline to its landlocked neighbour.

Somalia – which considers Somaliland to be part of its territory – has previously described the move as an act of aggression.

Both the African Union and the US have backed the territorial integrity of Somalia and urged all parties to cool tensions.

What was agreed?

The exact wording of the deal signed by the leaders of Ethiopia and Somaliland has not been made public, which is a problem as there are differing versions of what the two sides agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

An MoU is a statement of intent rather than a legally binding agreement but what seems clear is that Somaliland is ready to grant Ethiopia access to the sea for commercial traffic through a port, although it is not clear which port that would be.

There is also a military aspect. Somaliland has said it could lease a section of the coast to Ethiopia’s navy, a detail which has been confirmed by Addis Ababa.

In return, Somaliland will get a share in Ethiopia Airlines, the country’s successful national carrier.

But where things get sticky is whether Ethiopia said it would recognise Somaliland as an independent state – something which no other country has done in the 30 years since the former British protectorate said it was leaving Somalia.

On the day of the signing, Somaliland’s President Muse Bihi Abdi said the agreement included a section stating that Ethiopia would recognise Somaliland as an independent country at some point in the future.

Ethiopia has not confirmed this. Instead, in its attempt to clarify what was in the MoU, the government on 3 January said the deal included “provisions… to make an in-depth assessment towards taking a position regarding the efforts of Somaliland to gain recognition”.

Why is this so controversial?

For Somalia, Somaliland is an integral part of its territory. Any suggestion that it could make a deal with another country or that bits of it could be leased without the approval of Mogadishu is highly problematic.

The day after the MoU was signed, Somalia described the deal as an act of “aggression” that was an “impediment to… peace and stability”. It also recalled its ambassador from Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia’s ambassador to Somalia subsequently left Mogadishu but there was no explanation for this move.

The Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud later stepped up the rhetoric saying: “We will defend our country, we will defend it by all means necessary and seek the support of any ally willing to help us.”

He also called on youths “to prepare for the defence of our country”.

The president has described Ethiopia as his country’s “enemy”.

“We have resisted their [Ethiopia’s] invasion before. We defeated them before and we will again,” he said on 12 January, according to state-owned broadcaster SNTV.

Ethiopia and Somalia have a long history of rivalry.

In 1977 and 1978, Ethiopia and Somalia fought a devastating war for control of what is now called the Somali region of Ethiopia.

There have also been protests in Mogadishu against the deal with tens of thousands turning up to express their opposition.

What is the status of Somaliland?

Somaliland, a former British protectorate, declared itself independent from Somalia in 1991 and has all the trappings of a country, including a working political system, regular elections, a police force and its own currency.

Over the decades it has also escaped much of the chaos and violence that have hit Somalia.

But its independence has not been recognised by any country.

If, as Somaliland said, Ethiopia has agreed to recognise it at some point, it would have a profound impact on the Horn of Africa region.

What has Ethiopia said?

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed last year described access to the sea as an existential issue.

Ethiopia lost its ports when Eritrea seceded in the early 1990s. With more than 100 million people, it is the most populous landlocked country in the world.

Mr Abiy’s statement raised fears that Ethiopia could try to achieve its goal by force.

It has described the deal with Somaliland as historic, and emphasised that its intentions are peaceful.

“The position announced by the government is strongly rooted in a desire to not engage in war with anyone,” Ethiopia’s communications office said.

But in an oblique reference to the controversy, Mr Abiy said on X that “if we expect things to happen in ways that we are used to or know or can predict, [opportunities] may pass us”.

He added that some sometimes “out of the box” thinking was needed to achieve goals.

What have others said?

On 3 January, African Union commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat called for calm and mutual respect “to de-escalate the simmering tension”.

US state department spokesperson Matthew Miller also said that his country was concerned by reports that Ethiopia would recognise Somaliland’s independence.

“We join other partners in expressing our serious concern as well about the resulting spike in tensions in the Horn of Africa,” he added in a press briefing. The Arab League and the European Union have made similar statements.

Turkey, which plays a significant role in Somalia, stated its “commitment to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Somalia.

And Egypt has also pledged support for Somalia. President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi told his Somali counterpart that Egypt stood by Somalia and supported “its security and stability”.

On 8 January, Somalia’s President Mohamud flew to Eritrea to hold talks with President Isaias Afwerki.

The Somali leader said Eritrea had said it backed Somalia in the dispute, but the Eritrean government is yet to comment.

Another regional neighbour, Kenya, which enjoys close relations with both Ethiopia and Somalia, has kept a low profile and has not yet formally commented, while Uganda has also not taken a clear position.


Source: BBC, 20th January 2024


Ethiopia-Somaliland deal: A pivotal move for sea access and regional relations

The International Monetary Fund predicts a ‘soft landing’ scenario in 2024 for the global economy.

The Fund’s spokesperson however warned that leaders should be preparing for future shocks and challenges.

Julie Kozack spoke to journalists on Thursday from Washington DC.

“We’ve had a relatively resilient global economy so far. We expect that resilience to continue into 2024,” Kozack said.

“At the same time, inflation is coming down. Labor markets continue to be, uh, resilient. Of course, the news is not all good because this resilience with growth, um, around hovering around 3 percent both last year and over the expected over the medium-term, that’s much lower than previous global average growth rates, which were about 3.8 percent. So we do have work to do to lift global growth, especially over the medium term.”

Africa is projected to be the second-fastest-growing economic region in the world.

The Fund’s executive board has completed the third review of Mozambique’s three-year loan program, allowing for an immediate disbursement to Maputo of about $60.7 million.

The fund’s executives met with representatives of Egypt to discuss reforms as the war rages in Gaza, on Egypt’s eastern border.

“Our team is in discussions with the authorities on a set of policies that would support completion of the first and second reviews of the EFF that Egypt has with the Fund. This strong engagement that we’ve had with the authorities has helped achieve important progress in the discussions, and we do expect those discussions to continue in the coming weeks to operationalize the key policy priorities,” Kozack revealed.

The Fund will update its global growth forecast and unveil the World Economic Outlook report in Johannesburg on January 30.

Additional sources • IMF – Mail & Guardian

Source: AfricaNews, 12th January 2024


Kenya, Ethiopia revive hopes of Lapsset with talk of new railway

Casual labourers at work at the new Lamu Port site in Kililana in Lamu West, Kenya. PHOTOS | KALUME KAZUNGU | NMG

Is Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Project (Lapsset) on its way back or it is yet another episode in the fanfare associated with the project?

Observers have been wracking their brains over this after Kenya and Ethiopia, entered a deal to jointly search for a financier, and help erect one of the big-ticket projects associated with the Lapsset corridor.

Kenya’s Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen and his Ethiopian counterpart Alemu Sime signed a bilateral agreement for a standard gauge railway network between Lamu Port-Moyale-Addis Ababa.

Read: Why Lapsset is stuck on the starting blocks

“We are currently working on the development of the railway line from Lamu to Moyale through Isiolo with a link from Isiolo to Nairobi to connect with the Mombasa-Nairobi-Malaba SGR,” Murkomen said.

The move meant Nairobi had, in one month, reached out to two of its neighbours to extend the SGR to their territories from next year.

Last month, Kenya and Uganda agreed to extend the SGR from Naivasha to Kampala. They, too, agreed on a joint search for financiers, with each side footing the logistical bill on its territory.

For Lapsset, Kenya had pushed this path before.

In January 2020, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan signed a memorandum of understanding for development and funding and met prospective financiers including the African Development Bank (AfDB), the United Nations Economic Mission of Africa and the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa Development (Nepad).

Read: Kenya: Ethiopia’s peace vital for development

It was then that the project was adopted as an African Union project and redesigned to link the Lamu port on the eastern African Coast of the Indian Ocean to Douala port in the western Africa Atlantic Ocean earmarking the project as one of the pillars in the realisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Some of the projects under the Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative being considered by the AU included the Nigeria-Algeria gas pipeline project (Trans-Sahara Gas Pipeline); Missing links on the Trans-Sahara highway and optic fibre link between Algeria and Nigeria; Dakar-Ndjamena-Djibouti road/rail project.

Others are North-South Corridor Road/rail project; Kinshasa-Brazzaville bridge road/rail project; unblocking political bottlenecks for ICT broadband and optic fibre projects linking neighbouring states and construction of navigational line between Lake Victoria and the Mediterranean Sea.

But previous delays in buy-in have often derailed the Lapsset project whose entire infrastructure was meant to cost $22 billion as at 2012 when it was launched. At the time, countries agreed on crowdfunding for their specified projects on their territories.

In January 2020, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan agreed on joint budgetary allocation to establish a coordinating structure to accelerate infrastructure projects.

Read: Lapsset project adopted by AU to boost free trade area

Today, very little has been achieved. South Sudan has, in fact, preferred the Northern Corridor to Lamu corridor.

Increasing insecurity has also discouraged implementation or simply diverted attention of governments. Al Shabaab attacks in Lamu, South Sudan’s civil war and civil strife in Ethiopia have all come in since 2020.

At last week’s meeting, Kenya and Ethiopia came up with a working committee.

“We further agreed to establish a Bilateral Steering Committee comprising officials from Kenya and Ethiopia to fast-track the development of the Lapsset Corridor and its supporting infrastructure,” said Mr Murkomen.

As in the case of Uganda, Kenya is this time providing enticements to Ethiopia. Those privileges include a special yard as well as stationed customs officials should Ethiopia choose to use Lamu in future, for imports.

For Ethiopia, its buy-in into the project is important to revive Lapsset. Kenya recently completed three berths of the new Lamu Port worth $400 million and is expected to serve as a transshipment facility and import port for southern Ethiopia.

Source: The East African,  19th August 2024


Ambiguous Ethiopia port deal fuels uncertainty over Somaliland statehood

The agreement accentuates historical ties between Ethiopia and Somaliland – and historical hostility with Somalia.


Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi, right, and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attend the signing of an agreement in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on January 1, 2024, that allows Ethiopia to use a Somaliland port [Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]

On Monday, an agreement signed in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Muse Bihi Abdi of the breakaway republic of Somaliland preceded a shocking announcement that has already set the tone for interstate relations in the Horn of Africa this year.

The memorandum of understanding was for the leasing of 20km (12 miles) of Somaliland’s sea coast to landlocked Ethiopia. In exchange, Somaliland will receive shares in its neighbour’s flagship carrier, Ethiopian Airlines – and receive formal recognition as a sovereign state.

International recognition has been a long-sought goal for Somaliland, a region in northern Somalia that has enjoyed de facto independence since 1991. But the groundbreaking agreement has created shockwaves in the region and fury in Somalia, which views it as a hostile violation of Somalia’s sovereignty.

“As a government, we have condemned and rejected the illegal infringement of Ethiopia into our national sovereignty and territorial integrity yesterday,” Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said in a statement on X shortly after convening an emergency cabinet session on Tuesday. “Not an inch of Somalia can or will be signed away by anybody.”

In Ethiopia, where for much of 2023 the government stressed the economic need for a seaport and even subtly hinted at possibly invading Eritrea for access to the Red Sea, the deal is being portrayed as a victory.

But the terms of that victory differ for Ethiopia and Somaliland, and that could further complicate the situation in the coming days.

While Somaliland insists that recognition has already been agreed upon and settled, Addis Ababa has been reluctant to firmly address the matter of statehood. In a published communique, the government said it had yet to formally recognise Somaliland. But social media posts by Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs official Mesganu Arga this week appear to support Somaliland’s interpretation of the deal.

The ambiguity of the messaging continues to fuel speculation. A draft of the agreement has yet to be published, but all indications suggest that it would all but nullify a 2018 tripartite treaty cementing ties between Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea, details of which were similarly never made public.

Pressure or patriotism?

Ethiopian officials have been far more eager to speak of the benefits the agreement is said to have secured.

“The agreement is mutually beneficial, and Ethiopia will share military and intelligence experience with Somaliland, so the two states can collaborate on protecting joint interests,” Redwan Hussein, Abiy’s national security adviser, said at the event announcing the agreement. “To facilitate this, Ethiopia will establish a military base in Somaliland as well as a commercial maritime zone.”

Abiy hopes the agreement can help kick-start Ethiopia’s revival after a year of worsening economic woes, internal conflicts and a breakdown in relations with Eritrea. Since the signing of the two countries’ widely heralded peace treaty in 2018, which helped Abiy land the Nobel Peace Prize a year later, Ethiopia has been keen to redirect its imports to Eritrean ports.

But this has never materialised.

Source: Al Jazeera, 4th January 2024


BRICS expansion: five countries join ranks

Saudia Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Iran and Ethiopia joined the ranks of the BRICS group on Monday, January 1.

The five countries were to join the group in August 2023 at the 15th BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa. Argentina was also invited but backed out at the end of December.

The BRICS group of emerging countries was formed in 2006 by Brazil, Russia, India and China, with South Africa joining in 2010.

It has since become an important platform for cooperation among emerging markets and developing countries. The doubling of its members on Monday is aimed at increasing the group’s clout on the global stage.

Global expansion

The newly expanded BRICS has a combined population of about 3.5 billion people, with a combined economy worth over $28.5tn or about 28% of the global economy

The group’s growth could mark a shift in the geopolitical landscape, although analysts remain uncertain as to whether the expansion will be a help or a hindrance to BRICS members.

Some experts say that differences within the group could weaken decision-making and BRICS’ power overall.

However, BRICS countries are hoping that the expansion will lead to greater representation for emerging economies and a chance to move away from reliance on the US dollar.

In August last year, Brazil’s president called for BRICS nations to adopt a common currency for trade and investment between each other.

Russia’s presidency

Russia took over the BRICS presidency on Monday, following on from South Africa’s chairmanship in 2023.


Under the motto “Strengthening Multilateralism for Equitable Global Development and Security”, Russia will hold the chair for one year and will host the BRICS annual summit in Kazan in October.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has said he plans to increase BRICS’ role in the international financial system and will “spare no effort to ensure that […] we facilitate the harmonious integration of new participants” in activities.

Source, Africanews, 2nd January 2024