Ethiopia reduces import volume in Port of Djibouti


ADDIS ABABA - The federal republic of Ethiopia has drastically reduced import volumes in the Port of Djibouti as it seeks alternatives within the Horn of Africa, in what seems to be a strategy to reduce overdependence on the traditional import and export route.

According to reports, Ethiopia's import volume at the Port of Djibouti has reduced by 14.62 percent and has interestingly shifted to new port venues including Tadjoura, Berbera, and Moyale ports.

The new strategy has reduced congestion along with Addis Ababa and Djibouti route, which has been the main entrance to the landlocked nation. Over 95 percent of Ethiopia’s total imports have been shipped through Djibouti Port.

And this, reports at the Ministry of Transport and Logistics indicate, has managed to save the country over 2.4 billion Birr in the past ten months. The ministry published the report in the federal parliament this week.

During that time, while 86 percent of Ethiopia’s import was managed through Djibouti port, 9.16 percent was handled through Tadjoura, five percent at Berbera, and 0.02 percent at Moyale. The port of Berbera has so far only been used for the World Food Program and bulk cargo.

Reports show that Djibouti, which has over seven main ports, is more expensive than the Port of Sudan, Massawa, Assab, Berbera, Mogadishu, Mombasa, Tanzania, and Mozambique. A competitive price can be obtained by using these discounted ports.

The new move is likely to affect foreign income earned by Djibouti, which is important in the development of the country. Ethiopia is also currently constructing a road that leads to Somaliland's Berbera port, further affecting the income generated by Djibouti.

Even though Djibouti Port is the nearest port to landlocked Ethiopia, the price remains expensive, compared to ports located further like Port Sudan and Kenya’s Lamu port, the report by the ministry indicated.

However, Kasahun Aberu [Ph.D.], founding partner and director at Akakas Logistics Plc, said there are bottlenecks to port diversification.

“The port diversification is highly recommended because it can reduce the high expense of using Djibouti’s Port. Yet, other fresh routes to newly accessed ports lack services for freighters and transport service providers. These new port routes have no services like fuel stations, garage, and spare part shops for trucks, storage, and other services, including customs services,” said Kassahun.

“If we leave Djibouti for Berbera, we will not have access to road services such as gas stations and garages. By shifting to other ports, port costs could be reduced by up to 20 percent," added Kassahun.

Ethiopia’s port diversification also envisaged boosting FDIs to participate in port construction, according to Tatek Negash, communication director at the Ministry. In the Ministry of Transport’s 10-year development plan, it is necessary to expand the neighborhood ports by using only one port.

“The use of the Tadjoura Port in Djibouti started recently and a study should be done to use the ports of all neighboring countries,” said Tatek, adding, “Development will be done after a study is done and an agreement is reached with the countries.”


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