By Tesfa-alem Tekle
May 3, 2009 (ADDIS ABABA) — Landlocked Ethiopia this week admitted the nation’s high dependency to only Djibouti port has become a big concern to her as the volume of its fast growing import-export trade keeps booming with time.
In a nine-month performance report it presented to the House of Peoples’ Representatives the Ministry of Transport and Communication on Tuesday said that although Ethiopia uses other alternative ports of neighboring countries most of its import-export trade is carried out through the port of Djibouti which accounts over 90% of the total import-export trade.
The report disclosed that relying on one port has become a bottleneck to the development of import-export trade in the country.
It added that Ethiopia is limited to the use of one port land shipping matters and the transit service are not compatible to the economic development and the demand for such services that arise as well..
Currently, Djibouti port, 910 kms east of Addis Ababa, serves as Ethiopia’s main sea gateway since the horn of Africa’s nation lost ports of Assab and Massawa following Eritrea’s independence.
Ethiopia’s annual cargo traffic at Djibouti port totals over 4.8 million tonnes. Ethiopia’s cargo accounts for 83 percent of the total cargo traffic at the port. Djibouti port has the capacity to handle ten millions tonnes of cargo and 500,000 containers per annum.
Ethiopia every year spends more than two billion birr for port service In recent years the Ethiopian government led by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi doesn’t seem to withstand the high dependency on a single port and has begun efforts to identify alternative ports.
Ethiopian authorities have been assessing the port of Somaliland, Berbera, Port Sudan and the Mombassa port of Kenya as an alternative.
The Ethiopian government is also under repeated high pressure from Ethiopian businessmen who are seeking alternative, cheaper routes through which they can export and import goods.
As Part of efforts to ease dependency on the port of Djibouti,Ethiopia is also forging better road links with its neighbors Sudan and Kenya.
The port of Assab in the south of Eritrea was used almost exclusively by Ethiopia but since the 1998-2000 deadly border war, the port has gone idle.
Since Ethiopia went in war with Eritrea, the port of Djibouti became the only significant port for Ethiopia. Millions of dollars of goods shipping each year through the port to Ethiopia, and more than 30,000 barrels of oil a day are required just to meet Ethiopia’s fuel needs.