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Ethiopia plans to import 50,000 tons of fertilizer through Port Sudan as a trial in hopes that it will be able to use the port as an alternative for importing goods.
Workneh Gebeyehu, Minister of Transport said they hope this will help the nation keep up with its rising imports.
He added that they are also considering using the ports of other neighboring countries such as Kenya and Somalia to ease their increasing dependency on Djibouti ports. The government is also looking at using the autonomous Somaliland’s Berbera Port.
Osman Ali, Public Relations Head of Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Services Enterprise (ESLSE), told Capital that his enterprise and the government have put a strategy to expand the sea port roots besides the Ports of Djibouti, the major import/export hub for the country. “We have to use every possible and viable ports located in different directions because the country is very wide and our foreign trade is significantly growing,” Osman said.
The Port Sudan will be good alternative to address the northwestern part of the country.
Ethiopia is currently using Port Sudan on small scale to export some agricultural products like livestock and sesame that are produced in the northwestern part of the country.
Recently, a delegation led by Sufian Ahmed, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, visited Somaliland to expand economic cooperation between the two countries.
Sudan still remains a major economic partner of Ethiopia. According to the Ethiopian Petroleum Supplier Enterprise (EPSE), Ethiopia in April 2013 imported around USD 1.12 billion worth of oil from Sudan. In total, about 85 percent of Ethiopia’s yearly oil consumption comes from Sudan.
Port Sudan, which is well developed, was founded by the British in 1909 as the terminus of a railway linking the Red Sea to the River Nile. It served as a new modern port to replace Sawakim. The railroad was used to transport the nation’s cotton and sesame seeds, as well as sorghum from the agriculturally rich areas of the Nile valley to markets.
Over 90 percent of Ethiopia’s cargo is transferred via Djibouti ports, which is the closest port for central Ethiopia after war broke with Eritrea in early 2000s. Djibouti is currently undertaking massive expansion and new port constructions to meet the growing demand in the region.