South Sudan-Ethiopia-Djibouti Dynamics

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Trilateral agreements

Pipeline plans

South Sudan signed memoranda of understanding (MoU) with Ethiopia and Djibouti around trade in February 2012 which included the possibility of building an oil pipeline[1] linking South Sudan to Djibouti via Ethiopia.[2]

South Sudan's Minister for Information Barnaba Marial Benjamin told the AFP news agency, according to the BBC, that Chinese, US and European companies have shown interest in carrying out feasibility studies for the pipeline. Djibouti - on the Gulf of Aden at the entrance to the Red Sea - is at least 1,000 kilometers away from South Sudan's oil fields, and crosses remote, difficult terrain where South Sudanese and other militia groups operate.[2] In May 2012, a high level delegation from Ethiopia and Djibouti arrived in Juba, South Sudan's capital, to discuss a technical framework that would focus on terms and conditions for the implementation of the pipeline construction project. South Sudan's Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining, Elizabeth James Bol, according to news agency All Africa, said that the project would take almost three to five years to be implemented due to technical challenges.[3]

Broader economic cooperation

The agreement formed part of a broader economic cooperation agreement with Ethiopia and South Sudan, Djiboutian Finance Minister Ilyas Moussa Dawaleh said according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Other areas of cooperation between the three countries will include extending the telecommunications networks in Ethiopia and Djibouti into South Sudan, while improving road and rail networks in the region,[4] and linking their economies through duty free zones.[5]

South Sudan-Ethiopia

In March 2012, the first Ethiopia-South Sudan Joint Ministerial Commission meeting was held in Juba with the signing of eight Memoranda of Understandings (MoU) to advance economic and political ties, covering issues including transit, communications, transport, exports education and capacity building. An MoU was also signed on a Joint Strategic Partnership aimed at promoting development, peace, security and stability in the region and Africa as a whole.[6]

Representatives from Ethiopia and South Sudan met in Ethiopia’s Gambela town, the Sudan Tribune reported in April 2012, to discuss ways of fostering cooperation over a broad range of interests and concerns; by the end of the meeting Gambella state (Ethiopia) chief Umod Ubong and Jonglei state (South Sudan) deputy governor Hussien Mar had signed an agreement for Ethiopia and South Sudan to undertake a range of joint activities along their shared border.[6]

Within the joint border commission, both delegations agreed to control the illegal movement of people across the border by establishing immigration checkpoints at the main crossings at Gambella and Akoba on Ethiopian side and Pagak and Nasir areas on the South Sudanese side.[6]


  1. "Djibouti: Western bases pose manageable risk" Chicago Tribune, 11 July 2012.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "South Sudan in Ethiopia-Djibouti oil pipeline deal" BBC Africa, 9 February 2012.
  3. "South Sudan: Ethiopia, Djibouti Delegations in Juba for Pipeline Construction Strategy" All Africa, 4 May 2012.
  4. "South Sudan, Ethiopia Sign Accord on Djibouti Oil Pipeline" Bloomberg Businessweek, 9 February 2012.
  5. "Ethiopia, South Sudan and Djibouti Sign Trilateral Agrement", 12 February 2012.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "South Sudan, Ethiopia sign security, development cooperation accord" Sudan Tribune, 6 April 2012.