13 May 2018

Ethiopia: Premier Tour Vital for Integration

The official state visit of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed would have huge implication in realizing economic and political integration in the horn African region, according to scholars.

What does Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed state visit mean to the horn African region?

Director of Peace and Security Division of IGAD, Ambassador Tewolde Gebremeskel tells The Ethiopian Herald that the Premiers visit would further strengthen the diplomatic and economic relations of horn African countries.

He adds that since the horn region is a highly volatile region being engulfed with political instability, peace and security were among the many agendas of discussion.

There is still political instability in our region especially in Somalia and South Sudan which could affect the whole east African zone, according to him. "So addressing the problems of neighboring countries should be an assignment for all IGAD member states."

Ambassador Tewolde underscores that the agreements signed among the three countries have tremendous advantage in ensuring overall developments.

" IGAD member states are interrelated each other. They have many things in common. They are related historically, culturally, economically and politically. Thus, the official visit of our Premier to Djibouti, Sudan and Kenya will take all these common interests into consideration," he states. During his visit to Djibouti and Sudan, the Prime Minister has agreed with his Djiboutian and Sudanese counterparts to maintain a stake which enables Ethiopia to develop and manage ports in both countries.

Ethiopia see to more than 90 percent of its foreign trade through the port of Djibouti, Ambassador Tewolde underlines, adding, " If it gets a chance of developing and managing the port, it will enhance its trade system and utilize it to be more efficient."

He emphasizes that both sides will be beneficiaries of the economic integration based on mutual interest and consent.

East African Political and Security Analyst Kahsay Gebreyesus backs Ambassador Tewolde's idea that the economic integration between Ethiopia and Djibouti will be gradually transformed into political integration.

"We have heard the two sides (Ethiopia and Djibouti) have reached agreement to involve in one another's major sectors. Ethiopia would take stake in the port of Djibouti whereas Djibouti would have its share in Ethiopia's basic sectors like telecommunication, airlines and electric power," he points out.

Beyond economic affairs, Kahsay stressed Ethiopia and Djibouti have strong historical people-to-people relations and this could pave smooth way for the realization of political integration.

"I would like to assure you that if there is political integration in the African continent, the integration between Ethiopia and Djibouti will take the lead. The historical, cultural and economic ties will speed up the integration process."

As far Port Sudan is concerned, the agreement would have massive advantage for both countries, he argues, adding: "Port Sudan will be another option for Ethiopia sea outlet. Especially the northern part of the country will have easily access to the port. As result, huge economic boom will be ensured and the diplomatic ties between Ethiopia and Sudan will be upgraded to a higher level as well."

For his part, Samuel Haile, Economics Lecture at Addis Ababa University says that the visit of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed would attract more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flow to Ethiopia.

"The importance of a port in developing trade and investment could not be gainsaid. Ethiopia needs a port which could be developed and managed by its own system. If the agreement reaps fruits, Ethiopia's trade will be enhanced and FDI flow will increase significantly."

According to him, it would also bump up produce and promote productivity. It as well bolsters industrialization, production capacity and effective utilization of resources.

Besides, the economic integration would bring regional integration that could improve taxation system, infrastructure development and import and export trade, he reaffirms.

"Both leaders have agreed to build railway which connect Addis Ababa to Port Sudan. This would boost trade, improve infrastructure and consolidate the people- to -people relations."

Not only this, Ethiopia has bought 19 percent of Somaliland's main port of Berbera which has strategic significance to the eastern and south eastern part of our country, Samuel insists.

"We have registered tremendous economic growth over the last two decades. It demanded immense sacrifice. Had we had a port which we could manage and control ourselves, we could register an economic growth better than what have been already maintained so far."

The horn African region is extremely reach in several natural resources which have not been yet exploited to benefit the war-and-drought-stricken region. Thus, the scholars have urged governments of respective countries to stand together in alleviating poverty, in ensuring peace and security and in transforming the regional integration to higher level.


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