post Being Landlocked

February 19th, 2008

Filed under: General Issue — Lissan Magazine @ 23:02

A Landlocked Economy: (Being Landlocked).
By Agerachinen Inadin / TG

Geography matters for developments. Ethiopia is located in an area of political fluidity and changing alignment that it is a logical object of international and regional attention. The Geo-political environment, the Arab Israeli conflict, the opening of the Suez Canal, the strategy of making the Red Sea an Arab Lake, the OPEC cartel and oil politics, growing religious fundamentalism, American and Israeli strategy in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa, etc. has always affected Ethiopia. In most cases on the negative. This means Ethiopia for generation finds itself in a passionately contested political, economic and religious questions causing armed conflicts, frequent wars and acute tensions. In the midst of all these, Ethiopia since time immemorial trying to keep its access to the sea while others tried to deny it and control the costal line. In addition internal conflict and power struggle as well as the dynamics of neighboring countries like Djibouti, Sudan, Somalia (three Arab and Islamic League countries) and recently Eritrea have affected the outcome of Ethiopia access to the sea. The lack of access to the see will have a strong impact on Ethiopia’s economic, political and strategic interest, economic welfare and prosperity, its alliance and support system in the international forum, access to trade, technology and military equipments.


Eritrea is no more the external trading outlet for Ethiopia. Landlocked Ethiopia relies on Djibouti port for about 98% of its international trade, although such heavy dependence leaves it vulnerable to factors beyond its control. Moreover, the two countries remain in dispute over several issues, including Ethiopia’s request for “through-bill of landing”, to give cargo more straightforward and quicker passage to dry inland ports. Djibouti had previously promised to implement the scheme, but has delayed doing so because of pressure from its own traders, who fear being excluded from their profitable middle-man role. To try and reduce reliance on Djibouti, Ethiopia reached agreement with neighboring Somaliland in 2005 for increasing the use of Berbera port. Somaliland is the relatively peaceful northern part of Somalia that has declared de facto independence, although this is not recognized by the international community. However, Ethiopia and Somaliland legalized bilateral trade in August 2003 and established customs posts. Berbera will be used for both goods and fuel—the port has an oil terminal—although the quantities are likely to remain small in the short term, pending new investments at the port and in the limited road network linking Somaliland with eastern Ethiopia. Ethiopia has also started using Port Sudan and has just finished the construction of a high grade road that connects Northern Ethiopia with Sudan leading to Port Sudan. This will also have a significant geo-political and economic impact in the triangular relations of Ethiopia, Sudan and Eritrea.

Being landlocked clips around half a percentage point off the growth rate of a country (Jeff Sachs). 38% of the people living below poverty line are in countries that are landlocked. However, being landlocked does not necessarily condemn a country either to poverty or to slow growth, eg. Switzerland, Austria or Luxembourg or Botswana. Landlocked countries incur much higher transport cost. The transport costs for a landlocked country depends upon how much its coastal neighbor had spent on transport infrastructure. This means landlocked countries are hostages to their neighbors. Ethiopia currently is to Eritrea. Zimbabwe’s access to the sea depends upon South African and Mozambique’s infrastructure, whereas Ethiopia’s access to the sea depends upon Eritrea, Sudan, Kenya, Djibouti or Somalia which makes the difference. If you are landlocked with poor transport links to the coast that are beyond your control, it is very difficult to integrate to global markets for any product that requires a lot of transport. This impact negatively on manufacturing – which to date has been the most reliable drive of rapid development.

Being both resource-scarce and landlocked, along with having neighbors who either do not have opportunities, Ethiopia is pretty well condemned to slow lane of growth due to lack of access to the sea and massive external import-export transportation in the long run. . This marked development harder.

So what can landlocked Ethiopia do?

a) Increase neighborhood growth Spillover:
Cross border trade by improving transport infrastructure on both sides of the border with Djibouti, Sudan, Kenya, Somalia. Develop regional trade and eliminate regional trade restrictions

b) Improve Neighbor’s Economic Policies - better integrated economy with neighbor

c) Improve Coastal Access
Improve joint transport infrastructure and joint policy decisions with Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan.

d) Become a haven for the region: Working to become the regional business service center. Create a good policy environment. Make sure that Ethiopia set policies clearly superior to those of its neighbors, to attract these sources and export them, around the region. Explore the possibility of becoming the center of regional goods that are highly policy sensitive such as finance. Continue working on Djibouti in investing to service Ethiopia’s external trade. Use Mombassa to serve the Southern Part of Ethiopia. Use Berbera to service South Eastern Ethiopia and continue to use Port Sudan too for North and northwestern Ethiopia even if is not totally reliable due to frequent change of alliance and possible sabotage from EPLF.

e) Don’t be air locked and E-Locked: Air transport is much more important than it used to be. Explore region wide low cost air service in a form of cross cutting companies with others.

f) Have the potential to deliver rapid economic growth for the region by being both competitive and cooperative. Eg. work on twin pillars of being competitive in E-service and having good telecommunications infrastructure that can service the sub region. Develop hydro electric potentials that can provide sustainable and reliable energy to the countries in the sub region. Provide skilled man power by producing high skilled workers through intensive training. Southern Sudan, Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia and even northern Sudan can be effective markets.

g) Economical remittances: Ethiopia is experiencing substantial emigration. This can be turned into some advantage through enabling and encouraging the Diaspora to send large remittances by way of investment as well as support to family members. Maximizing remittances depends upon several steps. Keep educate people in the Diaspora so that they are employable in higher income economies rather than simply as unskilled workers. Make your banking and exchange rate system competitive.

h) Create a transparent and investor - friendly environment for resource prospecting. - Host country’s governance of the economy and resources .

By Agerachinen Inadin / TG


  1. the best and long term solution for ethiopia is to acquire the port of Assab by all means. there is no way the 4,000000 greedy eritreans will live in peace with 80,000,000 unfairly land locked people next door.

    Comment by mark — 7. July 2008 @ 08:53

  2. Maybe strengthening Somaliland might do the trick . With Djibouti being all finicky and stuff a new strong alliance is needed.

    Comment by Huiko — 3. March 2009 @ 01:34

  3. Dear Sir:
    I am the author of about 9 books: Yeteret Abate, Andit Tinchelna Qechine, Dereto, Esubalewuna Yegenet wof, Alemitu mainintagba, Gorade yagebachiw lielt, Yehilm Encyclopeadia, Imam Ahmed Ibrahim, and Ye eazope Teretoch.
    Are you interested to know more about my works? If yes please contact me?

    Sincerly yours

    Comment by Teshome Berhanu Kemal — 30. September 2009 @ 10:40

  4. Ethiopia has historically claims on the ports towns of “Assab(now in Eritrea), and “Zeila(now in Somaliland)”, we must pursue by all means to get back our historical ports of Zeila & Assab.
    I believe we are in a better position to take over Zeila, since there is not threat from a Unified Somalia Nation, and no great force would be needed to take over our ancient Zeila port city. Afterwards, Assab will be a walk in the park.
    With the Somalis divided into feuding clan states, there will be no one to defend Zeila.

    Comment by yohonnas — 2. November 2009 @ 04:31

  5. The paper U’ve wrote is GREA…………T!!!!!!!!!! I don’ know I just like it at all I think it is because I’m trying to work on my graduation paper on such an issue and it helps me as a reference for what I’ve aimed to do. Is it covinient to get the author or somebody aronud the issue throuh my e-mail?? I wish I could get some more knoledge than what I know & what I read from here. Thank U!!

    Comment by Hana G/silassie — 20. November 2009 @ 14:42

  6. It is true that there is no united Somalia anymore but the questions is how can Ethiopia invade Somalia without outside help for hunderd of years we Somalis have been stronger and more powerfull than the Tigray and habashi on our own without any help.

    How can you defeat us you couldn’t even defeat four million Eriterians

    Comment by Dayi Qalib — 7. January 2010 @ 00:22

  7. The day Ethiopia tries to take anything that belongs to Somalia is the day Somalia becomes unified. So do us a favour and try it on because that will be the beginning of the end of habashis and Tigrays.

    And don’t you for once forget that 4million somalis who hate you more than hell as well as other islamic communities live among you.

    Comment by Hodan — 7. January 2010 @ 13:14

  8. This topic was entitled to transmit a fundamental issue and the article is based on academical references. We want to encourage you to behave matured and to be less emotional when you leave comments. Lissan is a teaching-learning podium, not a war field for those who choose to solve essential problems just by emotionally created statements. We won’t delete this embarrassingly foolish and good-for-nothing comment from above so that we could learn from it to think and react objectively.

    Comment by Lissan Magazine — 20. February 2010 @ 15:17

  9. Eritrea were in Ethiopia but when98% their ppl decided to go we should let them go. Actually we should put a big fence b/n us. But the main point is there is no way we will remain landlocked. We Ethiopia have the right to bring back the Asab port to us. When i said this is by anymeans. Peacefully because the international law will allow us to claim it back. We Ethiopia we have to die for this unjust land demarcation made b/n tplf and eplf . This is a usefully point. Look the map of Ethiopia. My message to the ethiopian ppl is b together and let we punish this banda Eritrians. They calculated the previous war. We always think we we where killing each other. We ethiopian though Eritreans were our brother but no more. Eritrea is the child enemy of Ethiopia. We have punish this mother fuckers for once and all. Ethiopia tekdem

    Comment by Daniel — 25. January 2012 @ 00:36


    Comment by Hamid sultan — 9. August 2012 @ 06:29

  11. I always thought you people had some mental problems but now i know you also has issues with his own identity.
    What sea you talking about? The afars of Eritrea are the original Eritreans and owners of the sea all the way to massawa while the Habab Tigre are the owners of the rest of the coast all the way to east sudan, Both were there when your kind was either still monkeys on a tree or in yemen when the habesh were getting Slaughtered by the Arab Adananites. I don’t need to remind you what happened in 2000 when you try to take asseb and got your a** wiped out. Even the afars in ethiopia are calling to Unite with Eritrea instead of the other way around these days. If you want to take the coast which would never ever happen you will only be invading a coast belonging to people who are neither Ethiopians and hate ethiopians and the name ethiopia itself. So in short its not your coast its just another fairytale expansion based on your Micky mouse history. Don’t people relaise now that the most patriotic Eritreans are those from along the coast??? you don’t undertsand how much they hate ethiopians if only you knew you would rather take the coast of kenya instead.

    Comment by awet bahre-negash — 9. August 2012 @ 08:26

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