Hailing from a country well known for having resisted colonialism, Dr Abiy Ahmed, without fear of contradiction, is in the forefront propelling Africa to where fallen African leaders had wanted it to be. Ethiopia, to date, still takes the lead in refilling African countries that have depleted their governances and democracies.
From building the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) against all odds of Sudan and Egypt to embarking on a port in Somaliland. This is a 50-year lease on a naval base with excess to Somaliland’s Berbera port for commercial marine operations. Upon the announcement, Somalia took to the streets, protesting against this beneficial initiative but both Somaliland and Ethiopia moved on like a camel.
To my understanding, it is not that Somalia disagrees with Ethiopia, but it is why is it Somaliland, the breakaway, that comes to an agreement with Ethiopia to lease the port. Why not Somalia, the recognised one? If there is any other reason behind the opposition to Ethiopia’s 50-year deal of a port, that is what I do not know.
But one thing remains outstanding, the benefits of the port are going to be for the two countries. So, why is it opposed? To Ethiopia, the port is a lift to the natural punishment of being a landlocked country. A wise leader can challenge nature. Dr Abiy Ahmed is challenging the nature that created Ethiopia as a landlocked country.
This is an initiative which should be imitated by other landlocked countries in Africa. It introduces a country to a cool transport system. When I say “cool”, I mean that transport system you feel like you and your goods are not moving, but you are moving. Ports facilitate the movement of goods and services between markets, reducing transport expenses and improving efficiency.
Port expansion can also enable the diversification of export products, the attraction of foreign direct investment, and the integration into regional and global value chains. Economically, oceans, seas and rivers are a self-contained roadway that requires no building or maintenance. They have a large storage capacity and a safe mode of transport. They increase product diversity and transportable materials and are environmentally friendly.
With Ethiopia getting these benefits, she will remain a mother country for all African countries. It is not a new thing for Ethiopia to work with one hand while another hand is holding back someone who comes to oppose it. Tigray region tried it and it ended in favour of the Ethiopian government. Egypt, Sudan and the descendants of colonialists tried to oppose GERD and it ended in favour of Ethiopia. GERD is now operating and it will continue operating whatever the case against it.
So, I would want people to think twice about the proverb “If you cannot defeat them, then join them”. The good news above all this is that Ethiopia does not initiate projects that harm or carry future harm to other countries, rather it initiates projects that are of great importance to Africa. Imagine, Ethiopia hired water and environmental experts to assess the present and future hazards of GERD and after finding it not hazardous, Ethiopia proceeded with the project. If it were found hazardous, Ethiopia would not dare do it. Which country would take such a measure before embarking on a project it deems profitable to it despite harming other countries? It is Ethiopia alone and why doing it? It is a mother country.
The GERD now can supply the neighbourhood with affordable electricity and the underway port will act as a partial lift to some landlocked countries like South Sudan because they will also use the port. Under the Prime Ministership of Abiy Ahmed Ali, Ethiopia has been taking the lead in initiating innovative developments that are of speedy propulsion to Africa as a continent. Personally, I support Ethiopia’s 50-year lease on a naval base for it to access Somaliland’s Berbera Port.