Understanding Ethiopia’s Legitimate Interests to Access Sea, Economic Security Imperative: Former U.S. Diplomat

Addis Ababa: It is imperative to understand Ethiopia’s legitimate interests and needs to access the sea and ensure economic security for its people, Peter Pham, a former U.S. Special Envoy for the Sahel and Great Lakes Regions of Africa, said.

In an exclusive interview with ENA, the former U.S. Special Envoy said Ethiopia has played a critical role in providing peace and security throughout the region.

‘It has (therefore) every right to expect in return for that same goodwill and understanding for its legitimate interests and needs within terms of access to the sea and secure economic security for its people. It can’t all be a one way street.’

Speaking about the MoU signed between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi, Pham stated that he has been very encouraged by the historic agreement from the very day of the announcement.

‘Why am I so positive? First and foremost, I believe international relations have to be based upon reality — not fiction, not fantasy, not wi
shful thinking but reality. And the reality is the geopolitics and economics of this Horn of Africa region, which is so vital and changing, shifting before our eyes; and we need to adjust to these.’

According to him, the second part of the reality is Ethiopia’s legitimate interest in having ‘what I call redundant port structures.’

Ethiopia is the world’s most populous landlocked state with 120 million people, and to date Djibouti has been providing access for the country.

But, he added that a great country with 120 million people should not rely on one outlet.

The former U.S. Special Envoy further pointed out that as Ethiopia is looking for access to sea the Berbera Port makes sense economically.

‘DP World has already invested in there, and the United Kingdom government is investing in phase two. There’s a road infrastructure, bringing up the port there.’

There is an excellent runway; all sorts of things make that a compelling case, he added.

Moreover, Pham elaborated that Africa as a whole and this re
gion in particular lacks critical infrastructure.

‘I think the key is that Africa as a whole, but this region in lacks critical infrastructure. So I’m very much in favor of anything that contributes to whether ports, roads, energy, electricity. Anything that adds to the stock, that helps create the conditions for economic growth and prosperity shared throughout the region is a positive development.’

Source: Ethiopian News Agency