New International Development Secretary in debut visit to Ethiopia

27 Aug 2019

UK’s new International Development Secretary, The Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, made his debut trip to Ethiopia in August, where he met with various Government officials and British investors to discuss the opportunities and challenges of working in Ethiopia.

While meeting Prime Minister Abiy, the two discussed issues of mutual interest including Ethiopia’s political and economic situation, its role in the region and ways to strengthen the relationship between the two countries.

Appreciating the homegrown reforms underway under the Prime Minister, Mr. Sharma affirmed the continued support of the UK Government to Ethiopia. The Prime Minister, on his part, expressed his gratitude to the UK Government for its continued engagement in Ethiopia’s development endeavours.

…Ethiopia, UK sign £120m grants

Two grant agreements totalling £120 million were signed by the visiting International Development Secretary and Mr Admasu Nebebe, State Minister at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.

According to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, £95 million will be used to finance the Strengthening Climate Resilient System for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Service (SCRS-WaSH) programme, which aims to improve access to climate-resilient water, developing sanitation services and good hygiene practices.

The remaining £25 million will be used to finance phase 4 of the Ethiopian Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP), which aims to increase access to safety net and disaster risk management systems, complementary livelihoods services and nutrition support for food insecure households in rural Ethiopia.

…Support for British businesses

During his visit to Ethiopia, Mr Sharma called for the UK to lead the world in mobilising private sector investment to create jobs and to build the sustainable economic growth that will lift millions out of poverty.

Accompanied by the Deputy Chief Administrator of the Oromia Regional State, Mr Shimelis Abdisa, Mr Sharma visited the Unilever Ethiopia factory, a great example of a British investor benefitting from investments in Ethiopia. There, he met with female entrepreneurs working in partnership with Unilever which, alongside UK aid, is providing vital training and expertise to help women start their own retail businesses selling affordable household products.

Mr Sharma also heard how UK aid is supporting operations at Modjo Dry Port. Aid at Modjo is improving systems to reduce the costs and time it takes for goods to move through customs, making the flow of trade through the Dry Port more efficient.

In meetings with British businesses, discussions focussed on how UK aid can make it even easier for British businesses to invest and trade in Ethiopia.

…new Commission to boost quality infrastructure projects

During his visit to Ethiopia Mr Sharma also announced a new International Development Infrastructure Commission that will be made up of UK and international business leaders. The Commission will leverage the very best of British expertise, and make recommendations to improve the planning, delivery and financing of infrastructure projects. This shouldhelp make investment in infrastructure in developing countries more attractive to global businesses and investors.

The Commission will help facilitate private sector support to build more sustainable and resilient cities and improve access to clean energy and water.

International Development Secretary Alok Sharma said:

“An extra $2.5 trillion is needed every year to end poverty in developing countries and the UK must mobilise private sector investment to overcome this challenge.”

“Alongside the lifesaving work of UK aid, we need to boost infrastructure projects that form the backbone of economic growth.”

“This Commission will aim to turbo-charge investment in green, sustainable infrastructure, leading to more jobs, better access to basic services and opportunities for businesses, creating the UK’s future trading partners.”

Alongside mobilising private sector investment, Mr Sharma also announced extra UK aid specifically for Ethiopia as it builds more sustainable infrastructure, helping cities to grow in a green way and providing affordable clean energy.

Mr Sharma’s visit comes ahead of the UK-Africa Investment Summit in 2020 which will look to build on future opportunities for trade between the UK and African businesses. As of 2018, trade between the Continent and the UK was worth over £33 billion.

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