Ethiopia and Sudan are envisaging to achieve economic integration
By Amen Teferi
Tigrai Online, April 11, 2017
With a landmass of over 2 million sq km, Sudan is the largest country in Africa. Sudan has borders with nine African countries. Therefore, what is happening in Sudan, to a greater or lesser degree, may affect many nations. War/peace in Sudan has the potential to change the dynamics of the region. Peace in the Horn of Africa will bring an end to religious extremism, fostering greater trade, stability and economic development.
The Ethiopian government believes that Ethiopia could reap enormous rewards from lasting peace in Sudan. We have a total of 1,600-km border with Sudan and South Sudan. Thus, Ethiopia understands that peace in Sudan is a harbinger of regional peace and their bilateral ties have been steadily improving over the last few years.
As we remember when President Omar Bashir came to power in a military coup in 1989, Sudan had launched an aggressive Islamist-based foreign policy. Then, in the 1990s, the Sudanese National Islamic Front (NIF) of Omar Bashir had tried to export radical Islam to the region and that spurred fallout with neighboring countries, particularly Ethiopia and Eritrea, peace and security of the region has quickly deteriorated.
Now the whole image of the war-ravaged Horn has significantly changed in the eyes of the international community. Ethiopia and Sudan are envisaging to achieve economic integration and this will offer a significant advantage for Ethiopia, Sudan and the region in general.
The cross-border cooperation has been formalized, with the emphasis on ensuring peace and boosting the current limited trade levels through business development, electric power and road as well as telecommunication interconnections. An all-weather road is now linking the north of Ethiopia with Sudan, and Ethiopia benefits from access to Port Sudan and the Red Sea. Telephone networks have been integrated between the two countries and Ethiopia is delivering excess electricity to Sudan and new negotiations have been concluded recently to provide 300 MW of electricity using a 500 KVA power transmission line.
The two countries had come out from a bloody civil war and mange to forge excellent relations that would benefit the people of the two countries. This example of statesmanship in settling a seemingly ingrained and intractable conflict could motivate the leaders of other African countries.
The Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir had paid a three days working visit to Ethiopia. The Sudanese President Bashir had arrived in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, where he had hold meetings with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn and other government officials. The visit highlighted that the two sides shared identical views on issues under discussion.
In these regards, Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn have discussed political, economic and military integration between the two countries.
The two leaders had discussed on a range of bilateral issues of common interest, mainly focused on evaluating the implementations of previously signed agreements and Memorandum of Understandings between the two sides.
The two sides have signed a number of agreements that would promote their economic relations and strengthen their ties. It is to be recalled that, last October, the two countries had signed in Addis Ababa a memorandum of understanding providing to enhance joint security and military cooperation between the two neighboring countries to fight terrorism. They have also signed, in February, multiple agreements to further boost up cooperation on a range of development activities.
Now, the Sudanese President Bashir and the Ethiopian Prime Minister had assessed challenges and obstacles hindering the speedy implementation of accords signed and consulted on ways how to fast track the joint projects in a clear time frame.
Al-Bashir arrived in Addis Ababa on Tuesday, last week, on an official visit for three days and has signed bilateral agreements that would further elevate economic ties and deepen the historic bond between the two neighbors.
He told reporters following a closed meeting with Hailemariam Desalegn that “integration with Ethiopia includes all domains especially security, military, political and economic fields”.
Bashir had paid visit to some of the industrial parks and a sugar factory Ethiopia is built as part of its efforts to transform its economy and has just began operation. The two countries have lots of cooperation agreements that include electric power, security, infrastructure, among other sectors and the leaders have shown commitment to integrate their economies.
He said that Nile Basin countries should benefit from the water resources in a fair manner, adding “we agree on the Ethiopian Renaissance dam which will supply Sudan and Ethiopia with electricity”.
“We stress that Ethiopia’s security is an integral part of Sudanese national security and therefore we will work to develop this relationship and take it to the level desired by every Sudanese and Ethiopian,” he said.
For his part, the Ethiopian premier Prime announced the beginning of a new phase of integration between the two countries, saying “we agree in all fields, and we will work to achieve stability and resolve conflicts in the region”.
Hailemariam Desalegn added “we work together through a shared vision especially in security, military and economic cooperation, pointing that “any threat to Sudan is a threat to Ethiopia’s national security.” Hailemariam further announced that he will visit Sudan soon upon an official invitation from al-Bashir.
The two leaders also held talk on continental issues and vowed to cooperate to bring about solutions for the crises in the region, to wipe out al-Shabaab and to establish free economic zone. According to Hailemariam, “The two sides also discussed the security situation in the region and ways to bring countries of the region together to resolve the situation in South Sudan and Somalia.”
The Premier on the occasion said Ethiopia and Sudan have longstanding relations, adding the country is working to create strong diplomatic relations with its neighbors. A study conducted to link both countries with rail transport has been finalized and it will be implemented soon, he added. He further said both nations are working to create economic integration as well as on bilateral issues of common interest and continental issues.
President Bashir for his part said Ethiopia and Sudan are two neighbors with a longstanding people-to-people and cultural ties. His country is working with Ethiopia in several sectors, including in the areas of politics, economy and security, he added. Both countries have been linked with road, telecom and other related infrastructures. He added Ethiopia and Sudan are working to be a model for Africa’s move to create economic integration by establishing free trade zone.