Ethiopia to trade using regional ports

Saturday April 11 2015

Containers at the port of Mombasa. Ethiopia has launched a national logistics strategy to use multiple ports in neighbouring countries to improve trade ties. PHOTO | FILE |

Ethiopia has launched a national logistics strategy to use multiple ports in neighbouring countries in order to improve the country’s international trade.

Supported by the United Nations Development Programme, the country will use the Mombasa port, the Port of Sudan and Berbera port in Somaliland, in addition to the Djibouti port.

“We will consider using all the ports in the region,” said Workineh Gebeyehu, Ethiopia’s Minister of Transport, at the launch of the strategy.

The Port of Sudan primarily serves the export trade from northern Ethiopia to the Middle East, Europe and Asia.

According to the strategy, developed by Nathan Associates in 2013, developing more import trade through the port will lower the cost of transporting goods.

The Mombasa port will cater for the southern part of Ethiopia and connect the country to the EAC market. Additional terminals are being constructed at the Mombasa port to increase capacity, and the road from Mombasa to Mariakani will be expanded to four or six lanes.


Berbera, a shallow port in Somaliland, is about the same distance from Addis Ababa as Djibouti. It has two berths with a depth of 9.8 metres. It is used mostly for food aid, but could become more important if it is further developed. The route is also used to transport fruit, vegetables and other commodities from Ethiopia to Somaliland.

Currently Ethiopia imports a total of $13 billion’s worth of goods, and exports around $3 billion annually. Except for flowers and some perishable agro-processed foods such as meat, which are exported via Ethiopian Airlines, Ethiopia uses Djibouti port for above 95 per cent of its imports and exports.

Ethiopia’s international trade has been facing multiple challenges including shortage of transportation and poor management and co-ordination in the logistics system.

It is becoming difficult for the country’s products to be competitive on the global and regional market, while the high cost of doing business is also becoming a burden for investors.

Last year, the World Bank ranked Ethiopia 104 out of 160 countries in logistics performance.