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For a populous nation as Ethiopia on record as Africa’s second biggest only behind Nigeria, imports are as important to its economic growth as are the goods it also exports chief amongst them, coffee.
Ethiopia is, however, landlocked with five neighbours who have access to the sea Sudan, Kenya, Djibouti, Somalia and Eritrea.
As things stand now, Djibouti handles roughly 95 percent of all inbound trade for Ethiopia, a nation of 105 million and an economic power in East Africa.
One of the first significant steps Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took when he assumed the premiership in April 2018 was to acquire stakes in ports in neighbouring countries.
His trips to Kenya and Sudan saw the respective government report of port deals with the Lamu and Port of Sudan respectively. Then came the peace deal with Eritrea in July 2018.
The normalization of all relations between the two former enemies also brought to the fore the economic impact of the July 9 peace deal which gives Ethiopia access to Eritrean ports.
At the time it questioned how long Djibouti’s ports will be to Ethiopia when especially the Eritrean route becomes active. Many economic watchers said it will take some time for the dependence on Djibouti to ease.
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That reality shot to the fore earlier this week when the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa almost run out of fuel because a road connecting Ethiopia and Djibouti had been blocked – blocked by protesters.
Protesters were demonstrating against violence and a government order for local militias to pull out from disputed areas and be replaced by federal soldiers.
“The region’s leadership, local elders held discussions that resulted in a solution and the end of the blockade,” federal police spokesman Jeylan Abdi told reporters. A witness in the area confirmed the measure.
The resolution means that Addis Ababa’s fuel supply will return to normalcy as would the import and export of essential supplies via the sea route.
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