Somaliland & Ethiopia sign MOU for partnership & cooperation

I hold significant concerns regarding this particular agreement, particularly the aspect concerning the leasing of a naval base.

Aside from the obvious size & influence disparity which don’t favour Somaliland, the fact that the rhethoric thus far coming from Ethiopia was that of an hostility and to paraphrase Abiy’ demands “to get a port access by any means necessary” casts doubt on any future peaceful resolution if any dispute arises or when the lease ends.

Granting Ethiopia access to a naval base may render ports like Berbera or Djibouti unnecessary for Ethiopia. It’s likely that Ethiopia would utilize this naval base for a variety of purposes, including commercial activities, significantly limiting Somaliland’s influence or control in this matter. Lets face it, we are talking about African mentality here.

While I may be playing devil’s advocate here, I believe these points paint a realistic picture of the potential outcomes of this agreement.

What do you think of this?

Listening to Abiy’s recent speeches about access to a Sea Port - he comes across as only planting the seed of talking about it and doesn’t think it is something that was going to happened anytime soon.

Ans for for Somaliland to come to the table ready to offer itself on the cheap, is really a mistake of historic proportion. At least, you get the ball rolling and let it stay in the air for few years before you commit to anything of this sort.

Waa lagu degdegay. We could have had more from this deal - even if it we had to. Ethiopia was willing to offer more - including part of Kilka-shanaad (Reserver Area) if we played our cards right.

Hold concerns is an understatement. Until we see more information we can’t make a much of judgement. Never the less its a seismic event. This was years in the making but the timing is curious. Ethiopia can’t mention recognition just yet for obvious reasons not least its testing the international ripples created by this, there a legal reasons and obviously this is a non binding MOU.


Their official statement is a business transaction (similar to DPworld), leased access to sea for shares of Ethiopia Airlines, use of Berbera corridor, infrastructural investments (electricity) security pact and so on. The recognition will be included any future binding agreement.

I find it hard to believe that west specifically UK and UAE were not involved in this with the amount of shuttle diplomacy that has been going on between them and Ethiopia in the last year. The most recent of this was the ruler of UAE signing 14 MOUs with ABIY only a few months ago in Addis.

If the leased land is in Saylac then it makes sense it would have commercial connotations. It would develop Saylac corridor which is necessary for so many obvious reasons. Berbera would not loose much as they would get an agreed percentage of Ethiopian trade which was always hovering around 30%. It is Djibouti share which would get cannibalised by this deal.

20 kilometres does not make it clear if its squared KM or just a straight line of even segmented parcels of land totalling 20km.

For Somaliland it made it’s calculations based on 30 decades of experience. You can say they could have held on for a better deal well how much longer. The geopolitical events that aligned to make this moment the right moment might not come for another generation. As with any deal you win some you loose some.

If Ethiopia was to recognize Somaliland it takes away one wall that SL recognition has faced for decades.

I can imagine South Africa probably following suit and a number of others nations. Time will tell!

I think this is exactly what this is. They have most likely signed a trade deal for Berbera use and used this opportunity to plant a seed for the future. This will years to materialise and refine way past Bihi’s term and could be kiboshed by any future government. What wont take long is the use of Berbera in the meantime. Both countries get PR out of it in the meantime, Abiy can should about access to the sea without actually having one and Bihi about recognition without actually having one.

This could have the domino effect of other nations following with leasing bases from Somaliland across the gulf of Berbera.

Ethiopia’s FM said they are looking to conclude the sea-access-for-recognition deal within a month.

I am not too sure if this is the best deal. I think it is rushed and even if we had to enter into this agreement, we could have gotten a lot more.

Then I think it is this upcoming deal we need to pick with a fine tooth comb. Until then there is too little detail. Parliament will need to approve this as well. I agree it looks too one sided and rushed but surely this can’t be all there is to it. The final agreement if any could look significantly different and could come in phases dependent on goals being reached on both sides. The land/sea access lease should be the last step and upon SL gaining recognition with Ethiopia pushing it globally.



Abiy really wants this deal to go through as soon as possible. But I am not too sure if that is a good idea for Somaliland.

A lot of unknowns including the possibility of Ethiopia establishing a rival commercial port in the 20km zone.

Personally am thinking this is all about the trade deal between Somaliland and Ethiopia formally being signed. All the rest is political posturing and optics. The level of international push back against the MOU has been luke warm at best. The PR it generated for Somaliland has been stupendous. We basically know very little about the deal which makes me think its very early days and will be a drawn out process.

Kenya proposes maritime treaty to defuse Ethiopia-Somalia tensions

By Duncan Miriri

April 12, 20243:54 AM GMT+10Updated 6 hours ago

A Somali woman carries their flag during a march against the Ethiopia-Somaliland port deal along KM4 street in Mogadishu

A Somali woman carries their flag during a march against the Ethiopia-Somaliland port deal along KM4 street in Mogadishu, Somalia January 11, 2024. REUTERS/Feisal Omar/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights

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NAIROBI, April 11 (Reuters) - Kenya has proposed a regional maritime treaty to defuse tensions between Ethiopia and Somalia over a deal allowing Ethiopia to set up a naval base and giving it port access in Somalia’s breakaway region of Somaliland, a top Kenyan official said on Thursday.

Landlocked Ethiopia agreed on Jan. 1 to lease 20 km (12 miles) of coastline in Somaliland, a part of Somalia which claims independence and has had effective autonomy since 1991, offering possible recognition of Somaliland in exchange.

That prompted a defiant response from Somalia and fuelled concern the deal could further destabilise the Horn of Africa region.

The treaty Kenya is proposing in consultation with Djibouti and regional bloc IGAD would govern how landlocked states in the region can access ports on commercial terms, Korir Sing’oei, Kenya’s principal secretary for foreign affairs, told Reuters.

“IGAD can be able to formulate a treaty for sharing maritime resources,” he said, referring to the bloc which brings together countries in the region.

On Thursday Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud held a meeting with his Kenyan counterpart William Ruto in the Kenyan capital as part of efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the dispute.

“We continue to engage with all the parties with a view to ensuring that at the end of the day the region is left all stable,” Sing’oei said.

If accepted, Nairobi’s solution would offer Ethiopia “stable and predictable access to maritime resources” so it can carry out its business unhindered, while also respecting Somalia’s territorial integrity, he added.

Somalia and Ethiopia are considering the proposal, he said, and their leaders have been asked to consider meeting to take the process forward.

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Getting summoned for a “mediation” to push what was on the table already. HSM must really love collecting airmiles!