Ethiopia-Somaliland MoU Opens Door for Growth, Regional Cooperation

Addis Ababa: American University Senior Fellow in Moscow, Matthew Ehret, told ENA that the Ethiopia-Somaliland agreement will foster economic growth and regional cooperation. The senior fellow, who highlighted the importance of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on January 1, 2023, said the sea route with strategic trade significance would play a crucial role in enhancing Ethiopia's fast economic growth. According to him, the agreement is vital to unlock new economic opportunities, transform regional connectivity, and benefit not only Ethiopia and Somaliland but also the wider Horn of Africa region. The deal would also enable Ethiopia to get access to the sea through Somaliland, providing Ethiopia with an alternative transit route and potentially lowering logistical costs. Djibouti has been the only pathway for Ethiopia and the country needs to branch out. Ehret thinks the deal with Somaliland has been something which was wonderful. 'This is extremely important. Ethiopia being landlocked desper ately does require access to the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. And this deal does provide this blessing.' The agreement also paves the way for developing critical infrastructure, connecting the region, and aligning with the Africa Agenda 2063 vision, aiming to connect continental regions through transportation grids. 'If any of them (transportation grids) were going to happen, that one would happen first. And increasingly, we're seeing similar momentum for more southern, east-west routes,' Ehret elaborated. The senior fellow underscores that the potential benefits extend beyond Ethiopia and Somaliland. Improved trade and connectivity are expected to stimulate economic growth throughout the region, creating jobs and opportunities for neighboring countries. Ethiopia is growing very fast and is one of the fastest-growing countries in the world with a 13.5 percent GDP increase forecasted for 2024 by IMF, Ehret stated. Emphasizing the importance of moving beyond past conflicts and focusing on future opportuni ties, the senior fellow stated that win-win cooperation and collaborative initiatives like the Africa Agenda 2063 hold the key to unlocking Africa's potential. For Ehret, the deal marks a promising step for a more connected and prosperous region by leveraging it to build infrastructure, harness resources, and foster cooperation so that the region can pave the way for a brighter future for its people and economies. Source: Ethiopian News Agency