Ethiopia, a vibrant nation with a population of over 120 million people, has a legitimate right to secure access to the sea. The history books establish that Assab port, situated in present-day Eritrea, historically belonged to Ethiopia. This vital infrastructure, given Ethiopia’s exploding population and its ever growing consumption- cannot continue to be tokenized for political expediency in the region. For centuries, Ethiopia has been an incredibly resilient and self-sustaining nation with a rich and diverse history. However, due to its recent landlocked geographic location, Ethiopia continues to face significant challenges in international trade, connectivity, and overall economic development. Access to the sea is not merely a desire for Ethiopia; it is a critical necessity for the nation’s growth and progress.

Before Eritrea gained independence in 1993, Assab port was an integral part of Ethiopia’s maritime infrastructure, serving as a vital gateway for Ethiopian trade and connecting the nation to the global economy. This historical significance, backed by numerous legitimate historical records, clearly shows Ethiopia’s legitimate claim to the Assab port. The subsequent denial of access to this port after Eritrea’s independence drastically impacted Ethiopia’s economy and hindered its ability to engage in international trade freely.

Furthermore, neglecting Ethiopia’s rightful access to the sea also violates international laws and principles of maritime rights.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) acknowledges landlocked states’ rights to access and utilize the closest seaports and provides legal frameworks to ensure such access. Ethiopia’s plea for its legitimate rights regarding Assab port aligns perfectly with UNCLOS provisions.

The socioeconomic implications of Ethiopia’s landlocked status are profound. Access to the sea would significantly reduce transport costs, boost export opportunities, attract foreign investment, and foster economic growth. This would not only benefit Ethiopia but also have a positive impact on the entire East African region by stimulating regional economic integration and development.

History has shown that when landlocked countries face unjust restrictions on sea access, it often leads to political tensions and the onset of conflict. Ethiopia, being a champion of resilience and persistence in the region, recognizes the importance of regional peace and collaboration. It is undeniable that Ethiopia gaining its rightful access to the sea, the region would witness enhanced stability, cooperation, and shared prosperity.

Ethiopia’s assertive stance regarding its legitimate right to gain access to the sea, particularly through Assab port, is well-founded and resolute. The historical evidence, international legal frameworks, and socioeconomic imperatives all align to solidify this justified claim. Recognizing Ethiopia’s justified calls for sea corridors has implications far beyond meeting domestic demands, but is also a crucial step towards regional peace, stronger economic integration, and a vibrant economic for the entire East African region. It is time for the international community to recognize Ethiopia’s rightful demand and act in accordance with justice and fairness.