8 November 2018
ADDIS ABABA, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) — The Ethiopian military said on Wednesday that it has decided to reestablish a naval force despite the country’s landlocked geographical location.
The East African country disbanded its navy force more than two decades ago following the separation of Eritrea, leaving Ethiopia without access to a major ocean or sea that would host its naval force.
Ethiopia’s Deputy Chief of Staff of the National Defense Force, General Birhanu Jula, told local media that “reestablishing the Ethiopian naval force is very necessary given the country’s status as the region’s largest nation.”
Jula further indicated that building a naval force would help the country’s defense force to establish a better protection.
However, he did not specify where the navy would be based as well as when it would be reassembled.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed revealed the country’s naval ambitions in June, but his plan for how to achieve the goal has not been made public.
Ethiopia had a navy up to the early 1990s, when the independence of Eritrea left Ethiopia landlocked and prompted the Ethiopian government to disband the navy.
The Horn of African country uses a port in its neighboring country Djibouti for its import and export demands. The Djibouti Port currently handles about 95 percent of landlocked Ethiopia’s export-import trade.
The Ethiopian government, which recently normalized its relations with its long-time foe Eritrea, also hopes to use Eritrean ports for the country’s growing import-export needs.
During his recent visit to Eritrea in September, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Ahmed visited Eritrea’s Assab and Metswa ports. Infrastructure projects are also underway to re-connect the two neighbors.