As their peace deal accelerates, Eritrea has made ready the port of Massawa to serve Ethiopia’s import and export traffic.
Eritrea had denied landlocked Ethiopia access to the port on the outbreak of hostilities twenty years ago.
The head of the Massawa Port Administration, Layne Asfahaley, told Ethiopia’s state news agency on Tuesday that the port has gone through major renovation works to enable it provide services to iEritrea’s former foe with which full diplomatic relations have been restored in the last one month.
The use of Eritrea’s port by Ethiopia would be the first landmark economic cooperation since the two horn of Africa nations officially declared an end to two decades of enmity due to a border dispute.
Founded in the 19th century and initially developed by the Italian and British colonial authorities in the region, the Port of Massawa is the primary port for the trafficking of goods and services to the Eritrean markets.
The port was also a major gateway for Ethiopian trade until the border war that broke out between the two countries in 1998.
Since then, Ethiopia without direct access to the sea has been primarily using the port of Djibouti for access to the international market.
95 per cent of Ethiopia’s imports and exports have been transacted through the port of Djibouti over the past twenty years.
However, the recent rapprochement between Addis Ababa and Asmara has led the way for the re-establishment of ties including port services, and transportation, among others.
The port is equipped with the necessary facilities and skilled labour and is ready to restart its service for Ethiopia’s import-export commodities shortly, the head Eritrea Port Administration said.
“We outfitted and refurbished the port facilities to the very interest of Ethiopia’s import-export commodities and we are considering further expansion following the vast demand in the region” he added.
Solomon Afewerk, a former President of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association (ECCSA), said there is a huge opportunity for both countries to be economically inter-reliant.
“The use of the Port of Massawa can pave the way for further cooperation and mutual benefit of the two neighbouring countries, but subsequent to the demand from Ethiopia, there should be expansion and development of the port to accommodate the vast flow of import-export freights” he added.