Maritime Security: Horn of Africa and Implementation of the 2050 AIM Strategy

In January 2014, the African Union (AU) adopted the 2050 AIM Strategy which engages with maritime security from a multidimensional perspective, in the sense of not limiting its engagement solely to piracy and armed robbery at sea, but also including other illicit activities at the sea, as well as putting sustainable development of the African Blue Economy and Maritime Safety at the core of dealing with maritime security. An integrated maritime strategy as the 2050 AIM Strategy is quite complex, and implementation would be rather challenging…coherence would only be achieved if three core issues are addressed – effective coordination, information flow and the nexus approach.

Ports & Power: the securitisation of port politics

The Horn’s coastline has been transformed into an important strategic area – not only for maritime trade routes, but also due to its proximity to regional conflicts – and consequently has attracted a range of foreign powers. The influx of foreign actors, mixing commercial incentives with military deals, has led to the securitisation of the Horn’s ports, the importing of foreign political cleavages, and has influenced intra-Horn politics… Horn leaders have not been passive recipients of foreign attention, but have been eager to capitalise on the renewed interest for the region.

Corne de l’Afrique : un manque d’intérêt pour la mer

La Corne de l’Afrique est une région stratégique. Depuis l’ouverture du canal de Suez en 1869, elle n’a cessé d’évoluer et son rôle est majeur dans le transport maritime au niveau mondial. Si les marines étrangères se sont investies très tôt dans la protection de leurs colonies, des bases de soutien, aucun État de la Corne de l’Afrique n’a développé au fil du temps les moyens de s’approprier la souveraineté des mers ou océans proches dont ils sont pourtant dépendants.

Maritime Insecurity in the Horn: The Perspective from Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s access to and usage of maritime outlets in the region has been affected by the tempestuous geopolitical dynamics in the region. Currently, Ethiopia depends on Djibouti for the overwhelming bulk of its exports and imports…Ethiopia’s landlocked-ness coupled with negligible port diversification efforts, and geopolitical dynamics around the Red Sea and Indian Ocean maritime domains can be taken as the key manifestations of maritime insecurity from the Ethiopian perspective… The United States (largest military base in Africa), China (first military base in Africa), NATO, France, Japan, Germany, and Saudi Arabia have all established a military presence in Djibouti. Turkey has also established its first overseas and to date largest military base in Mogadishu… The establishment of a military and naval presence in Djibouti by these countries has raised concerns from the Ethiopian perspective.

The Berbera Port Agreement and its Potential Repercussions 

The agreement between Somaliland, DP World’s agreement and Ethiopia to manage Berbera port has potential ripple effects that may escalate inter-state and intra-state tensions in the Horn… Somali nationalists may withdraw their support from the current president if he does not show resolve in the Berbera port dispute. A possible outcome of such scenario is the fragmentation of existing domestic alliances and worsening of Somalia’s nascent state-federal relations, perhaps leading to a total collapse of the Federal Government of Somalia. Such a scenario will not bode well either for Ethiopia or the larger international community because what happens in Somalia may have wider regional and global consequences as demonstrated by past events.