Eritrea is currently in discussions to build a new port for export for its potash, weeks after securing a peace deal with its neighbor Ethiopia. The potash will be mined in the country, and from Ethiopia, in a deal that many thought wouldn’t have been possible before a peace agreement was signed between both countries.
The port will be located at the Bay of Anfile, a few kilometers from Eritrea’s potash mine at Colluli. The project will be overseen by the Colluli Mining Share Company, which is a joint venture between Danakali Ltd, an Australian mining company, and the Eritrean National Mining Corporation.
The site of Colluli is strategic as it contains high quantities of potash, used as fertilizers for fruits, coffee trees, and vegetables. The Director-General of Mines in Eritrea’s Ministry of Energy and Mines Aleb Kibreab told Bloomberg the first consideration for opening the port is to make money.
The potash mine would take two years to complete, while the port will be completed in five years. While the port is under construction, Eritrea would export its potash using its ports in Massawa which also has the capacity to transport the exports, but is farther than the proposed location of the new port.
Eritrea’s peace deal with Ethiopia has become more important as it will give landlocked Ethiopia access to Eritrea’s seaports. Eritrea has been ruled by President Isaias Afwerki since 1993. He implemented policies like compulsory national service for Eritreans and restricted human rights as Eritrea lived under the fear of an Ethiopian invasion. The peace deal signed between both countries in July put an end to the standoff and ensured that there would be trade and investment opportunities between both countries again.
This port will see a continuation of Ethiopia’s maritime policies after it secured stakes in ports in Djibouti, Somalia, and Sudan within 5 months. Access to sea seems to be one of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s key economic reforms for Ethiopia, and securing access to Eritrea’s ports would have made it more important. Both countries also plan to develop the ports on Eritrea’s Red Sea coast together soon, after normal air flights resumed between both countries last month. Aleb says it would be more economical for Ethiopia to export its potash using the new port rather than Djibouti’s port.