Ethiopia’s Quest for Utilizing the Port of Berbera, Somaliland, since 2010: Drivers, Processes, and Challenges


  • Tezera Tazebew University of Gondar


Ethiopia, Somaliland, port development, Berbera, geopolitics


This essay presents a critical analysis of the factors driving Ethiopia’s efforts to utilize the Port of Berbera in Somaliland, as well as the challenges that arise in this pursuit. The study employs a qualitative-interpretative methodology, using both primary and secondary sources of data, including key informant interviews and document analysis. Access to the sea has long been crucial for Ethiopia’s economic and cultural interactions with the outside world, but colonial powers in the Horn of Africa region have historically challenged this access. Ethiopia has therefore sought to secure sustainable access to the sea, with Eritrean ports playing a significant role until the Ethiopia-Eritrean War disrupted this arrangement. The study finds that Ethiopia has been pursuing the use of the Port of Berbera as an alternative since at least the mid-2000s, motivated both by necessity and geopolitical maneuvering by various actors. However, challenges remain in effectively utilizing the port and establishing effective state control in the Somali region. The study concludes by recommending corrective measures to resolve disputes over port utilization and promoting similar initiatives to facilitate market-based integration in the Horn of Africa.