As part of a new national strategy, Ethiopia will begin using ports in Kenya, Somaliland and Sudan in order to increase trade volume. This strategy will decrease Ethiopia’s current policy of relying solely on the Port of Djibouti. In a move supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Ethiopia will begin using Mombasa Port in Kenya, Berbera Port in Somaliland, and Port Sudan in Sudan. In addition, Ethiopia will continue to utilize Djibouti port.
The use by Ethiopia of Mombasa Port will serve as an outlet for goods mainly from the southern part of Ethiopia. Using the port and the Mombasa Corridor will also connect Ethiopia to the markets of the East African Community (EAC). Road work is underway in Ethiopia and will connect to Kenya’s fully paved roads leading to Mombasa Port. The approval process is also underway in Kenya to widen the road from four to six lanes from Mariakani to Mombasa. At least some of the Ethiopian goods destined for export markets will make use of the expanding port facilities in Mombasa.
Ethiopia began using the Port of Berbera in February 2015 after the self-declared independent Republic of Somaliland and Ethiopia signed a deal one month prior. The Port of Berbera is a shallow port in Somaliland. It is divided into four parts which together stretch to a length of 630 meters. The port has a storage capacity of one million tons and accommodates more than 1,000 ships per year, depending on both the length of the ferries and the activity in the port. It is currently used largely for food aid but plans are underway to expand the Berbera port. Major livestock areas lie just 200 km away in Jigjiga, Ethiopia. As such, Berbera Port could become a major shipping point for livestock from Ethiopian and Somaliland to the Middle East and the Gulf. According to Ethiopian government officials, Berbera Port will also be used to import coal to Ethiopia. Goods will also come to Ethiopia via Berbera from India, the Middle East and Saudi Arabia.
Currently, Port Sudan is mainly used to export goods from northern Ethiopia to the Middle East and Europe. However, a recent agreement between Ethiopia and Sudan will make it possible for Ethiopia to import oil via Port Sudan. Details regarding the source of the imported oil remain undisclosed. Ethiopia also started using Port Sudan to import 50,000 tons of fertilizer in early 2015.
Ethiopia’s international trade has been facing multiple challenges including a shortage of viable transportation corridors and poor management and co-ordination in the logistics system. It currently imports a total of $13 billion worth of goods, and exports only $3 billion annually. Ethiopia currently uses Djibouti port for over 95 percent of its imports and exports.