Country Listing

Ethiopia Table of Contents



Ethiopia had two major ports, Aseb and Mitsiwa, on the Red Sea coast. These ports accounted for about 93 percent of Ethiopia's export-import trade. The port of Djibouti, which operated as a free port, handled the remaining 7 percent of Ethiopia's sea-borne freight. All three ports handled deepsea vessels, possessed some mechanized cargo-handling equipment, and offered covered and open storage facilities.

The port of Aseb was connected by road with Addis Ababa. Developed by the imperial government in the late 1950s, Aseb, together with Djibouti, principally served Ethiopia's central and southern areas. In l988 Aseb handled about 7l percent of the export-import trade. In EFY l986/87, more than 2.8 million tons of cargo transited Aseb, of which about 66 percent consisted of imports, including about 792,000 tons of crude oil for Aseb's refinery. Although the port of Aseb was not threatened, antigovernment forces repeatedly attacked the Addis Ababa-Aseb highway.

Mitsiwa was connected to Asmera by road and by rail. Until the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) captured Mitsiwa in early 1990, the port handled traffic bound mainly for the northern part of the country. Also, the Ethiopian navy had stationed most of its ships at Mitsiwa. In EFY 1986/87, Mitsiwa handled about 470,000 tons of cargo, of which imports made up about l4 percent.

Developments during the 1986-87 drought, when food aid donated to Ethiopia rotted in storage facilities and ships waited for weeks to unload their cargo, demonstrated the inadequacy of the port of Aseb. In l988 the government announced plans to build a new terminal at Aseb with a US$ll million loan from the European Investment Bank. This multipurpose terminal for general cargo, container ships, and roll-on/roll-off vessels was to consist of a 6,400- square-meter transit shed. The government expected the first berth to be completed in l99l and the rest of the work to be done by l992.

In addition to the major ports, there is a limited inland water transportation system. The Baro River is navigable and is used to transport goods to Sudan. Traders also transport local goods on Lake Tana in the northwest and Lake Abaya and Lake Chamo in the south. In EFY l986/87, about 2,000 tons of cargo transited local waterways. A total of 98 percent of this activity was on Lake Tana.

Data as of 1991