The Horn Of Africa States: Working In Unison – OpEd


Brenda Stoner (Forbes, 24 Sep. 2021) said that “As retailers look to incorporate various technology solutions to modernize their logistics environment, a key consideration is working with solution-agnostic providers to easily plug in various solutions into the retailers’ tech stack and work in unison and harmony.”

When teams work together, it improves efficiencies in any project, business or whatever task a group is doing. Teams work better and achieve more than an individual or a single person can deliver. It is the same with countries. There will always be challenges, but these challenges can be handled through feedback loops, listening, i.e., keeping one’s ears to the ground/floor, and developing conflict resolution frameworks and effective communication.

Group harmony is something which is necessary for big projects as well as for small projects. It is the same for countries. It is the willingness of people to work together that leads both corporates and countries to flourish and succeed in their endeavors. The Horn of Africa States, which only consists of four countries could have succeeded together if only they worked together instead of against each other, serving others such as Ethiopia is currently doing, working for the United Arab Emirates, as a client state, in disrupting the coastal countries of the region, namely Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia. 

There is no way Ethiopia, in its current state, financially, militarily, political organization and in other aspects, could launch a project to cross international borders into another country and build ports for itself in others’ lands and territories. There is no way it could build a navy when it does not even have a sea, at present. How did the French build naval vessels for a country that has no sea? Obviously, being French, they do not care as long as they get money! They failed in Africa anyway!

A third party must be involved in the process, guaranteeing all aspects of the project financially, and many are pointing fingers at the United Arab Emirates which is an “ally” of Ethiopia, although the latter has not formally announced any such thing.

Where countries pull in different directions, no progress is ever made. No wonder, the Horn of Africa States stays behind others, underdeveloped, hungry and always with hands out begging others, when, indeed, it should be one of the richest regions of the world. Note its strategic location, its large population, its sub-soil wealth and its beautiful weather and history. They all point to a region that should be thriving, developing and a region that should be the envy of many others. Working for others can only last for a while. 

Countries have strategic interests, which change with time or over time. One can look at India, which was supported and armed by Russia and the Soviet Union at one time, and how it appears to be turning its back on Russia lately serving the West. Where would it be tomorrow? Countries have no permanent friends. They have permanent interests. The interest of the Horn of Africa States is to work together and stay on the same side always. It is not in the interest of Ethiopia to be seeking support from a party that does not have Ethiopia’s interest or for that matter the interest of the Horn of Africa’s interest at heart but its own only, which is what the UAE represents. Working together is the only way the Horn of Africa States can develop, and how others would respect them. Individually, they are all doomed, big or small, or at least they would struggle. Countries now work in groups and teams and regional blocks. Why shouldn’t the Horn the Horn of Africa States? 

When the sun sets, either the moon or the stars start to shine. They guide travelers. It is the way of nature. When one aspect of nature recedes like the setting sun, another rises like the moon and the stars. It looks like darkness is currently falling on the Horn of Africa States with respect the conflict that seems to be brewing between Somalia and Ethiopia. But maybe Ethiopia can pull back from the brink of falling over the abyss and the two countries along with the other two Horn Africa countries, Eritrea and Djibouti, may start working together for the betterment of the region and serving the population, who are mostly poor and impoverished.

Accepting defeat or failure in an endeavor is always the end of things or matters. One always tries other routes and other possibilities. There was once a young soccer player, who participated in a major match for the first time. He e wrote to his father after the match reporting the results of the match, which ended in the defeat of his team:

“Our opponents discovered a great gap in our defence line, and that was me.”

Such acceptance of one’s shortcomings is rare, indeed. It requires great courage and audacity without which one cannot make any progress. There is nothing wrong with admitting defeat and Abiy Ahmed should accept the mistake he made in first raising his population’s expectations about acquiring a sea by force or by cunning, and then wronging a friendly neighbor, struggling for its survival, Somalia. Should he accept his mistake, he would be well on his way to solving his country’s difficulties and many other issues.

Dr. Suleiman Walhad

Dr. Suleiman Walhad writes on the Horn of Africa economies and politics. He can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *