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The Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Service Enterprise (ESLSE) announced that it expects to receive the remaining five of the nine ships it bought as part of a loan deal by July 2013.
The agreement to buy the ships was made between the Ethiopian government and the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of China back in November 2010.
The nine ships, of which two are oil tankers and the remaining for cargo are made at the Huanghai Shipyard in Huangpu city and Jinling Shipyard in Nanjing city.
Their cost worth 5.5 billion birr is covered through an eight year long credit term. The ships are expected to increase by 50 percent ESLSE’s carrying capacity of Ethiopian exports. Its current capacity is only 20 percent. The enterprise has already received four ships with two of them having arrived just last month. Two of the ships are oil tankers, while the other two are cargo ships with the ability to carry all kinds of freight. So far, only one of the ships, christened “Assosa”, has become operational.
Alemu Ambaye, Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ESLSE, said the arrival of the entire fleet would facilitate a smooth and speedy transfer of goods that is much needed for big infrastructure projects.
He further said, ‘at a time when the Ethiopian government is engaged in massive infrastructural projects, the ships would hasten the arrival of raw materials at a competitive price.’
The vessels are expected to be utilized on the Far East and South East Asia shipping lanes where the bulk of emerging market economies are based.
Alemu surmised that although, for now, the ships are expected to exclusively use the ports in Djibouti, in the future, they will be utilizing other ports in the region when their infrastructure is adequately developed. Another port that could be used is Port Sudan, which already handles some export commodities originating from Ethiopia. For the time being though the distances involved usually makes it undesirable to many exporters.
The port in Berbera, located in the self-declared Republic of Somaliland, which previously had occasionally been used by the government of Ethiopia and private companies as well as aid agencies, is constrained by undeveloped infrastructure.
In a related development, ESLSE also declared that it’s prepared to reduce its current shipping rates by 25 percent for exporters whose commodities are destined for places such as the Far East region and the Persian Gulf area.