“Developments Post the Ethiopia-Somaliland MoU” explores the progress and significant actions that have taken place since the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Ethiopia and Somaliland on January 1, 2024.

Written by Blen Mamo Diriba, a prominent Ethiopian scholar

The Ethiopia-Somaliland Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on January 1, 2024, has led to substantial actions and developments in diplomatic, economic, and security domains.

Diplomatic Upgrades:

Somaliland has upgraded its representative Office in Addis Ababa to an Embassy and officially appointed an ambassador soon after the signing of the MoU. In reciprocation, Ethiopia took similar steps by mid-May 2024, enhancing the diplomatic ties between the two entities.

Developments Post the Ethiopia-Somaliland MoU What You Need to Know
Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed and Somaliland president Muse Bihi at the signing of the agreement on 1 January 2024. Photograph: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

Berbera Port Expansion:

Berbera serves as Somaliland’s major trade and logistics corridor for international commerce.

Ethiopia, in collaboration with the UAE’s DP World, has increased its investment in the Berbera Port Expansion project. Ethiopia’s stake in the project is expected to rise from 19% to 30%.

It is further anticipated that 40% of Ethiopia’s transit cargo will soon shift from Djibouti to Berbera. Valued at $5 billion, this project aims to significantly enhance the port’s overall capacity.

Military Cooperation:

Ethiopia has reportedly initiated the construction of a naval base along the strategic coast of Somaliland, as outlined in the recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). However, this report has not been officially confirmed, and the exact location of the base has not been disclosed.

Infrastructure Projects:

Ethiopia has reportedly co-sponsored a $143 million project to construct a National Gas and Oil Terminal in Berbera, securing a significant share in this venture. The report is not officially confirmed.

Developments Post the Ethiopia-Somaliland MoU What You Need to Know
Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed (L) and Somaliland’s President, Muse Bihi (R), discuss the port-access deal on January 2, 2023. (Social Media/X)

Transportation Links:

Berbera Corridor: Nearing completion, this $1 billion road construction project, initiated in 2021, will connect Ethiopia directly to Berbera port. The project includes developing supply chain infrastructure and incorporating advanced IT technology for efficient operations.

Railway Project: A 310-kilometer railway line, connecting Ayisha (part of the Ethio-Djibouti network) to Berbera, is underway with a minimum budget of $1.5 billion. This project will deliver a trifunctional intersection among Ethiopia, Somaliland, and Djibouti.

In conclusion, these developments reflect a robust commitment from both Ethiopia and Somaliland to fully implement the MoU and enhance their bilateral relationship, as well as economic and security cooperation. The evolving dynamics have also influenced international perspectives, with foreign powers, including the United States, advising Somalia to redirect its focus on internal challenges and prioritize addressing the threat posed by Al-Shabaab.

About Blen Mamo Diriba

Blen Mamo DiribaBlen Mamo Diriba, a mother and researcher from Ethiopia, specializes in law, politics, and national security. Holding an LLB in Law and an MSc in International Security and Global Governance, she focuses on international relations, security, and geopolitics. Her research spans various legal fields like international law, constitutional law, criminal law, human rights law, international trade, and international humanitarian law. She is affiliated with Addis Ababa University, Birkbeck College at the University of London, and Hawassa University. You follow her @_PoliticsAddict on X