March 7, 2011 ·19 Comments
ADDIS ABABA — The government of Ethiopia and Somaliland are trying to solicit fund from the European Union (EU) for the construction of the road that connects Ethiopia with Berbera, the Somaliland port.
Samson Wondimu, corporate communications head with the Ethiopian Roads Authority, told The Reporter that the Ethiopian and Somaliland governments were trying to secure the funds from the EU that would be used to rehabilitate the 245 km long Togochale (boarder town)-Berbera road. Some 50 kms from the Ethiopian border, the road is rough and the asphalt road begins near the capital city, Hargeissa and goes up to Berbera.
Officials of the EU were not immediately available for comment. A diplomat at the Somaliland’s Consulate in Addis Ababa told The Reporter that there are still ongoing negotiations between Somaliland, Ethiopia and the EU over the rehabilitation of the Berbera corridor. “Things are progressing,” the diplomat said.
The ageing asphalt road from Hargeissa to the port is in a very poor condition and it needs urgent rehabilitation. Berbera is an alternative gateway to Ethiopia. Mostly food aid is imported via Berbera to Ethiopia. But the Ethiopian government plans to import parts of the country’s import via Berbera. The port also needs to be developed and it needs a substantial amount of investment.
With the view of using the Berbera Port, the Ethiopian government is developing the infrastructure along the Berbera corridor. Samson said the government is finalizing work on the Jijiga-Togochale 67 km. road construction project launched three years ago. The contractor, a local construction firm, Akir Construction, is expected to finalize the work after two months.
Samson said Somaliland has good diplomatic and trade relations with Ethiopia adding that the new road will enhance bilateral trade between the two Countries.
By Kaleyesus Bekele
Source The Ethiopian Reporter | 7 March 2011
additional information (developing story): Somalilandpress, we will post the full story once we receive more information from the Foreign Affairs department.
The Somaliland government plans to privatize the port and currently is holding discussions with Chinese firms. The Somaliland Foreign Minister, Dr Mohamed Abdullahi Omar is currently in Beijing, China, for the last four days. Barrier his visit to China, he was in the Ethiopian capital where he held talks with Ethiopian officials over the port and other key areas including security. Both governments are pushing for foreign firm to invest in the port. According to sources close to the government a number of firms expressed interest including the Hong Kong based, Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH), France’s Bolloré Africa Logistics and Holland-based, APM Terminals.
The first phase of the project, already approved by the EU, will be to conduct a study on how to develop the Berbera Corridor, a 850 km road. According to the foreign minister, Berbera Corridor will be connected to the North-South Corridor (Cairo-Gaborone highway).
The second phase will be finding a reliable contractor for the job and investors. At the moment, its at the second phase and both Ethiopia and Somaliland have been in talks with a Chinese firm in Addis Ababa that is already constructing roads and highways in Ethiopia.
The Chinese seem to be more proactive than the Western firms. The current trip by the foreign minister to Beijing will be the fourth such talks between Somaliland and Chinese investors in the last year alone.
The President, Mr Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo might also fly to Beijing according to sources close to the government.
The current talks are four-way discussion between Somaliland-Ethiopia and EU, Somaliland-Ethiopia and China.
Berbera port sits on a strategic location along the red sea and plans to become a major port in the region for Somaliland, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Somalia.
The current government has an aggressive foreign policy and foreign investment. It plans to rehabilitate roads between Berbera and Togwachale, Berbera and Hargeisa airports and the port it self to improve its network and connection with neighboring countries. So far it has secured $10 million to rehabilitate the airports from the Kuwaiti government (see Somaliland Receives USD 10Million for airports upgrade
We will keep you posted as we receive more information on the minister’s trip to Beijing.Follow @somalilandpress