Ethiopian Vessel Docks at Lamu Port After 15-Year Agreement

In 2009, Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Sudan embarked on a significant agreement aimed at the development and utilization of the Lamu port.

This landmark agreement was signed by former Kenyan President Mo Kibaki, late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, and South Sudanese President Salvakir Mayardit.

With Kenya’s keen interest in fostering this project for the benefit of Ethiopia and South Sudan, the initiative took shape, although Ethiopia initially hesitated to fully engage.

However, the landscape shifted with the advent of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration, which prioritized diversifying Ethiopia’s port options to bolster revenue and logistical efficiency.

Months ago, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed affirmed the decision to include Lamu port as one of the viable alternatives.

Now, after 15 years since the agreement’s inception, Ethiopia has commenced utilizing the Lamu port.

On May 11, 2024, the Ethiopian merchant vessel “Abay” made history by docking at the Lamu port, laden with 60,000 metric tons of fertilizer.

“Abay” marked the maiden voyage among Ethiopia’s commercial fleet to Lamu port.

The Ministry of Transport disclosed plans to transport the fertilizer from Lamu port to Ethiopia’s hinterland via Moyale, situated on the Ethiopian-Kenyan border.

Upon the ship’s arrival, a delegation led by Ethiopian Minister of Agriculture Girma Amente extended a warm welcome, signifying the significance of this inaugural docking.

In tandem with Ethiopia’s utilization of Lamu port, Kenya announced plans last August for the construction of a $14 billion railway line connecting Ethiopia.

This high-speed electric railway, as reported by Bloomberg, will originate from Lamu port, extending 3,000 kilometers to link Ethiopia and South Sudan.

Scheduled to commence operations in 2025, the railway will traverse Kenya’s heartland, connecting Nairobi and Addis Ababa before culminating in Juba, South Sudan.

Notably, this railway initiative aims to reduce Ethiopia’s reliance on ports in neighboring countries, such as Assab and Massawa in Eritrea, and Djibouti.

Beyond logistical advantages, the project promises manifold social, political, and economic benefits, including enhanced regional connectivity and trade facilitation.

South Sudan stands to gain significantly from this infrastructure development, as it will herald the establishment of a secondary port, augmenting its maritime access.

As construction progresses and services commence, Lamu port is poised to emerge as a pivotal node in facilitating seamless transportation services, catalyzing economic growth and integration across Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Sudan.


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