Ethiopia plans to start using Port Lamu and Mombasa within a few months’ time as part of its increase of port proportion and alternative sea outlet.
“Ethiopia’s cost of land transport per kilometer is the cheapest when compared to neighboring countries. However the distance from port to destination areas is a challenge in staying competitive in the international market,” stated Dagmawit Moges, Minister of Transport and Logistics on her latest appearance at the Urban Infrastructure and Transport Standing Affairs Standing Committee of the parliament, adding that using alternative ports could solve this. “We have to stop depending on one port, as the country is big.”
According to Eng. Yehualashet Jemere Director General of Ethiopian Maritime Affairs Authority (EMAA), the ministry is preparing commandments on the utilization of port Mombasa to start operation with in short period of time, additional to having continued discussions with the government.
As Dagmawit said, Ethiopia will start using these ports within few months and it will be included in the performance of the budget year report.
Similarly, Ethiopia and Sudan have agreed to provide a plot for the port development. In addition to this Ethiopia has also been working with Kenya and Eritrea in developing port facilities.
ccording to the six month performance report of the transport and logistics ministry, for the first time the volume of Ethiopia cargo transaction through the Djibouti port has reduced to 83.9 percent in the past six month, that is the first half of the fiscal year.
“It is one success in our performance,” said the minister.
I previous years more than 98 percent of total import export trade of the country was through Djibouti main port.
Ethiopia managed 17 million metric tons of import export cargo in the last six month. Becoming operational just one year ago, Tadjoura port takes ten percent of cargo transaction or 731,338tons of cargo while Berbera port’s share increased to 5.9 percent.
As the minister said, minimizing logistic cost is one of the benefits of alternative ports. Ethiopia in the past six months has managed to save up to 535 million birr.
Ethiopia is one of the 16 land locked countries in Africa paying hundreds of millions of dollars annually for port service.
In the past Ethiopia had been using Eritrea’s port of Assab; the closest port to the country however that was closed after the two neighbors fought a two year long war in 1998 that killed an estimated 70,000 people.
Ethiopia, which is the biggest population without a sea outlet in the world, mainly uses ports in Djibouti which are connected by three roads and a railway network for cargo import. In the last twenty years Ethiopia had been using ports at Djibouti which has undertaken massive logistics developments to accommodate Ethiopia’s growing demand.
Ethiopia is currently looking for alternative sea ports in neighboring countries of Sudan, Kenya and Somalia to ease increasing dependency in Djibouti.
Ministry of Transport and Logistics expressed that ownership and management of seaport will be determined by the ten year transport plan. The transport sector development in general is expected to consume 3.2 trillion birr or USD 75 billion in the coming decade, while the sector that is mostly preserved for public and domestic investors will expand its playground to foreign investors in different schemes.
Port Mombasa is at 85% capacity already and severely congested.
Port Lamu is also almost 2x as far away from Ethiopia’s population centres as Djibouti and Somaliland’s Berbera port.
Berbera and not Lamu is therefore the obvious alternative to Djibouti Port.