Enhancing Ethio-Scottish Relations

27 Mar 2017

For centuries, Ethiopia and the UK have enjoyed close economic, diplomatic and cultural relations. They provided an important foundation for the recent visit to Scotland of an Ethiopian Embassy delegation, led by H.E. Ambassador Hailemichael Aberra

Ethiopia shares a unique historical attachment to Scotland through the 18th-century expeditions of James Bruce, the renowned explorer and writer. Bruce explored the Blue Nile Basin and, in February 1770, reached Gondar, then  the capital of Ethiopia, where he lived for some years.

James Bruce, Scottish explorer who traced the origins of the Blue Nile

Today, Scotland, famed for its dynamic economy and globally admired universities, is an important partner in Ethiopia’s journey towards middle-income status. An Embassy delegation travelled to Scotland in early March with the aim of promoting partnership and investment opportunities to government officials, investors and universities and to the Ethiopian diaspora in Scotland, who were briefed on the role they could play in the overall development activities of the country.

The delegation held discussions with Dr Alistair Allan, Minister for Europe and International Development in the Scottish Government, on opportunities for further cooperation and on enhancing the burgeoning trade and investment relations. British companies investing in Ethiopia already include Diageo, Pittards, New Age Oil and Kefi Minerals.

H.E. Ambassador Hailemichel Aberra Afework with the Scottish Minister for International Development & Europe, Mr. Alasdair Allan MSP

Meetings with senior staff at Glasgow and Edinburgh universities and the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) in Paisley, focused on facilitating new opportunities for research collaboration and partnerships with Ethiopian universities in medicine, engineering, economics, sport, quality assurance and capacity building programmes aimed at ‘Training the Trainers’.

In recent decades, Ethiopia has established almost 40 public universities and numerous technical and vocational institutions, to increase technical and scientific capacity at national level. Scottish universities were keen to build partnerships with their counterparts in Ethiopia by strengthening their existing relationships.

Discussions with senior staff at the Scottish Chamber of Commerce, African Forum Scotland and the Scottish Council of Development and Industry (SCDI) focused on the promotion of key growth sectors in the Ethiopian economy, such as manufacturing (textiles, leather, pharmaceuticals, engineering, metal products, and agro-processing), agriculture and hotel construction. Keen interest was shown and a Trade and Investment Forum in Glasgow and a Scottish trade and investment mission to Ethiopia are planned soon.

Ambassador Hailemichael highlighted Ethiopia’s ambitious industrialisation and its new industrial zones which are being built along key economic corridors across the country, and welcome both foreign and domestic export-oriented industries. The Ambassador called on the Scottish government and investors to create new markets for Ethiopian products and said the Government is ready to facilitate and support investors for the benefit of both parties.

At the sidelines of the visit, the delegation briefly met Professor Sandy Stoddart, the Queen’s Sculptor in Ordinary in Scotland, at his studio at the University of the West of Scotland. Professor Stoddart is one of the UK’s most renowned sculptors.

Meeting staff at Link Community Development, a Scottish NGO, the delegation learnt of their groundbreaking work on girls’ education in Ethiopia, where they have impacted the learning outcomes of more than 97,809 children in 164 elementary schools across Rural Wolaita.

The visit’s success is evidence of robust Ethio-Scottish relations and would not have been possible without the dedicated efforts of Professor John Struthers, Ethiopia’s Honorary Consul to Scotland, and Ahmed Abdi, a member of the Ethiopian community in Glasgow. Our sincere thanks go out to them both.

Video coverage of the Scotland visit can be found on our YouTube page.  Also check out our Facebook and Twitter pages for photos and updates.

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