Ethiopia’s ambitions to have a naval power

Ethiopia is a landlocked state

Ethiopia is a landlocked country, so it will need to have enough capabilities & resources to lease an abroad military base in East/Horn of Africa countries to revive the Navy again.

To look up the background: Following the Ethiopian Civil War in 1991, Ethiopia lost its coast, including the vital port of Assab, leaving it landlocked after the declaration of Eritrea independence that forced Ethiopia to transfer its naval capabilities to station at the Yemeni ports. A few years later, in 1993, Yemen expelled the Ethiopian Navy ships, so they decided to head to Djibouti and lease a harbour, but in 1996, Ethiopia had fallen behind in paying the harbour dues. Under this pretext, Djibouti seized all of the remaining Ethiopian Navy ships.

Thus, Ethiopia has no navy since the 90s; however, in 2018, Ethiopia announced promising plans to revive the Navy. Later, during the Ethiopian PM visit to Paris in 2018, France will contribute to helping Ethiopia in building its new naval capabilities.

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Port of Assab

Why does Ethiopia want to have naval power?

Ethiopia is trying to have military influence in the southern Red Sea region and protect the maritime routes used by the Ethiopian commercial ships as most of their trade is passing in maritime traffic through the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden.

Where will this potential navy be stationed?

  • Eritrea & Djibouti are highly expected hubs
  • Kenya (But it’s too far now)
  • Somaliland (a new potential hub for building the navy installation as Ethiopia is now eyeing investments in Brebera port).


UAE has recently abandoned its (FOB) military base in Assab port city, which can be a potential hub to accommodate the proposed Ethiopian Navy. In addition, the base is well-prepared, so the Ethiopians wouldn’t have to pay much in re-building & to prepare new installations.


Ethiopia is already using Djibouti port and handles roughly about 90% of its exports & imports. In addition, Ethiopian media outlets reported recently that the proposed Ethiopian Navy would be stationed in Djibouti, where Ethiopia will lease an area in any harbor for its Navy.

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Ethiopia's ambitions to have a naval power 3


Ethiopia’s ambitions to build a navy, even if it happened, and that’s too far, can’t ever be considered a threat to other regional powers. It would take decades to have real naval power, as for ships pronouncement, building infrastructure, training personnel.

But there is a critical issue that makes it more complicated for Ethiopia to get support. After the recent War in Tigray and the Ethiopian National Defense Force crimes there, EU countries, including France, will not support Ethiopia militarily as well as in the form of building their naval power, despite any past promises.

Check out Naval Library App to find out the specifications of the naval forces of the African states.

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