Somaliland and Ethiopia are looking at improving the trade ties between the two countries so that both can benefit.
The two neighbouring nations have close interests in the Red Sea with Ethiopia heavily depending on the Berbera Port in Somaliland to access its imports and export its products to the international market.
While the trade relationship between the two countries remains very strong, it is to Ethiopia’s advantage, to a great extent. Somaliland exports $600-$700 million worth of goods a year to Ethiopia.
Somaliland envoy to Kenya Bashe Omar and the new Ethiopia ambassador to Kenya Meles Alem Tikea met in Nairobi and discussed how best to improve the relationship between the two countries.
“Somaliland and Ethiopia have a warm and historical tie that is anchored on matters trade and Security Cooperation. We are continuing to enhance our cooperation on trade, infrastructure development and education,” Bashe Omar said after the meeting at the Somaliland Liaison offices in Nairobi.
Ethiopia is Somaliland’s key ally in the horn of Africa. The two countries have partnered with the DP World and the government of the United Arab Emirates to rebuild the port of Berbera which plays a key role in the maritime connections between the horn and the middle east.
Ethiopia owns 19 per cent shares of the Berbera Port, Somaliland has 30 per cent while DP World enjoys a 51 per cent stake.
The UAE and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development Construction company are also building a 250-kilometre dual carriageway between the city of Berbera and the Ethiopian border town of Togochale.
“We gave a strong symbiotic relationship with Ethiopia and our foreign partners and this needs to be enhanced further,” Bashe stated adding that Ethiopia is among the African countries that have warmly welcomed representatives from Somaliland, a country that is yet to be recognized internationally.
“Ethiopian airlines fly twice a day to our capital Hargeisa linking our country to other African states in terms of transportation of our citizens and visitors. This has had a positive impact on trade and tourism,” said Bashe.
Tikea said Somaliland has played a massive role in the maritime security and boosting trade in his country.
“Through Somaliland, we have access to the sea which is very important for our import and export industry,” he said.
Ethiopia has been playing a unique role in the realization of infrastructural driven economic integration and deploying peace enforcing missions in various hot spots of the continent.
The country took a wise step to end hostilities and pursue an economic and political partnership that is heralding a new era of good neighbourliness in the Horn of Africa and beyond.
BY ODINDO AYIEKO