Ethiopia-Somaliland Deal Vital to Regional Integration, Pan-Africanism


Scholars from Ethiopia and Somaliland remarked that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between Ethiopia and Somaliland will bolster the pan-African movement and expedite regional integration by fostering mutual development and peace.

In reference to the MOU signed by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Somaliland President Musa Bihi on January 1, 2024, enabling Ethiopia to regain access to the sea, scholars from Ethiopia and Somaliland shared their perspectives on the agreement with ENA. They emphasized that the MOU presents an opportunity to strengthen regional ties beyond the two signatory parties.

President of Dire Dawa University, Ubah Adam acknowledged Ethiopia’s unfortunate loss of sea access in the past. She stated that Ethiopia’s current efforts to regain sea access are appropriate, based on international law and diplomatic principles of give and take.

She emphasized that the agreement with Somaliland has the potential to foster mutual benefits, inclusive development, and peace in the region urging communities in the surrounding countries to recognize the multifaceted advantages of the agreement and lead by example in its implementation.

Abdurrahman Mohammed, a researcher at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, Hargeisa University, highlighted the region’s limited resources, intertwined man-made and natural disasters, power struggles, and the interdependent lives of the people.

He acknowledged Ethiopia’s huge economy and substantial population compared to other countries in the region. Mohammed emphasized Ethiopia’s tireless efforts to promote peace and ensure fair mutual benefits across the region.

He stressed that access to the sea is crucial for regional peace and stability. He further stated that the MOU with Somaliland will aid in preventing cross-border crimes, resolving maritime conflicts, and combating terrorism.

Abdurahman noted that the MOU will benefit both parties, protecting Ethiopia’s national interests and enabling Somaliland to expand investments and create additional job opportunities.

He underscored the significance of Pan-Africanism in restoring unity and fostering regional integration within the African Union.

Hilina Ashenafi, a faculty member at Dire Dawa University College of Law, emphasized the importance of economic cooperation for regional connectivity.

Stressing the inseparability of economic cooperation and peace, she called for political commitment from all countries in the region.

Hilina highlighted the necessity of fair mutual benefits for the region’s collective survival and expressed support for Ethiopia’s efforts to establish a sea gateway.

She noted that the agreement would enhance Ethiopia’s positive leadership influence in the region and help mitigate the costs of port rent.

Assistant professor of political science and international relations at Jigjig University, Miftah Mohammad emphasized Ethiopia’s large population, development capacity, and abundant resources as factors enabling it to exert influence in the region.

He stressed the need for Ethiopia’s neighboring countries, who already possess sea gateways, to collaborate with Ethiopia in developing the region and prioritizing stability through the principle of give and take.

Media and Communication teacher at Jimma University, Dr. Demelash Mengistu said that Ethiopia’s landlocked status and lack of alternative ports pose challenges to supporting its growing economy and meeting the needs of its people.

He asserted that the MOU with Somaliland will play a vital role in expanding Ethiopia’s port options and strengthening its regional role.

Demelash emphasized that Somaliland’s participation in Ethiopian Airlines, a symbol of African pride, will significantly enhance its benefits.

However, he cautioned against certain parties misrepresenting the MOU’s regional mutual benefits and emphasized the duty of scholars to provide accurate information.

He called on scholars to serve as ambassadors for cooperation and peace in the region.