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  • Somaliland: Ethiopian Naval Base Could Aid in Containing Houthis
    Somaliland: Ethiopian Naval Base Could Aid in Containing Houthis

    The leader of the breakaway region of Somaliland believes that a future Ethiopian naval base—the first since Ethiopia lost access to the sea three decades ago—will enhance maritime security in the Gulf of Aden, a region plagued by Somali piracy and militant attacks from Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

    In January, Somaliland, a semiautonomous region, signed a long-anticipated port access deal with Ethiopia, angering the national government of Somalia. This agreement is a pivotal part of Somaliland’s strategy to gain international recognition, trading land for diplomatic acceptance. It grants the Ethiopian government access to a 12-mile strip of coastline to develop a naval base, which the Somaliland government claims will “pave the way to realize Ethiopia’s aspiration to secure access to the sea.” The two parties have differing accounts of the deal’s specifics: Ethiopian officials mention the inclusion of a commercial seaport, while Somaliland asserts it is strictly for a naval base. Foreign Minister Dr. Essa Kayd told the Horn Observer that three potential base locations have been identified along the Somaliland coast.

    The Somali national government considers Somaliland a part of Somalia, despite the region’s self-governance since 1991 and its claim of independence. Mogadishu strongly objected to the Ethiopian access deal announced in January and has opposed the idea of a foreign naval base in Somaliland. However, last month, it indicated a willingness to negotiate terms for the construction of an Ethiopian commercial port.

    Last month, Kayd highlighted the potential Ethiopian naval base as a positive step for maritime security in a region long troubled by criminal activities at sea. In an interview with the Financial Times, Somaliland leader Muse Bihi Abdi suggested that an Ethiopian presence could help counter Yemen’s Houthi rebels and “support international efforts to secure freedom of navigation.”

    Ethiopia lost its navy when Eritrea gained independence in 1993. President Abiy Ahmed’s government has long pledged to reestablish a navy, announcing plans in 2018 and beginning negotiations with Somaliland for port access. To demonstrate the seriousness of this intent, Ethiopia signed an agreement with France for training and support for a future naval force. This force’s primary mission would be to protect Ethiopia’s small merchant fleet and its maritime trade in a region marked by intense geopolitical competition and frequent security incidents.

    “Ethiopia’s right to use international waters necessitates having a naval base,” former Ethiopian diplomat Birhanemeskel Abebe told the BBC in 2018.

Economy

  • South Korea to Provide Billions in Loans to East Africa for Access to Natural Resources
    South Korea to Provide Billions in Loans to East Africa for Access to Natural Resources

    By Chinedu Okafor, June 03, 2024

    East Africa is poised to benefit from significant South Korean investment as the Asian nation seeks to expand its access to the region’s natural resources. A recent report indicates that South Korea has focused on East Africa, particularly Ethiopia and Tanzania, to secure these resources. In return, South Korea has agreed to extend substantial loans to several countries in the region.

    Ethiopia and Tanzania have confirmed the execution of loan agreements with South Korea, amounting to billions of dollars. This initiative is part of a broader commitment that will grant South Korea access to Africa’s crucial natural riches and vast export market.

    In Tanzania, a concessional loan agreement worth $2.5 billion over five years has been established. Additionally, Tanzania has signed agreements allowing South Korea to utilize its maritime resources and minerals essential for clean energy technologies, such as nickel, lithium, and graphite. This was announced by presidential spokesman Zuhura Yunus on Sunday.

    Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan has also expressed intentions to collaborate with South Korea in sustainable ocean resource use, natural gas deposit development, and creative industries. Additionally, Tanzania aims to provide labor to South Korea. This partnership builds on previous collaborations, including a memorandum of understanding signed in November 2022 between the Tanzania Startup Association (TSA) and the Korean Startup Forum (KSF).

    Ethiopia, on the other hand, has confirmed a $1 billion financing deal over four years to support infrastructure, science and technology, health, and urban development, as reported by the state-affiliated Fana media outlet.

    These developments follow the South Korea-Africa summit held this week, where over 30 heads of state were invited. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeo has met with several African leaders, including those from Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Ethiopia. Meetings with leaders from Zimbabwe, Togo, Rwanda, and Mozambique are scheduled for Monday.

    This substantial financial engagement underscores South Korea’s strategic efforts to secure vital natural resources while fostering economic development in East Africa.

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