Prime Minister Abiy at the FT Africa Summit

19 Oct 2020

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed delivered an opening keynote address at this year’s Financial Times (FT) Africa Summit on 12th October.

In his address, the PM said the theme of the Summit, “Getting Africa back to Business” following the COVID-19 pandemic was a timely and pressing theme.

In his remarks, the Prime Minister focused on three major and interrelated considerations:

First, he said, “we need a renewed approach to our systems of governance that is rooted in the politics of principled pragmatism, which recognizes that complex challenges have no easy solutions…it requires collective efforts—as we say in Ethiopia—Medemer, based on deep and principled cooperation.”

“A good part of the credit for Africa’s relatively effective response to COVID-19 lies in the recognition that the solutions to collective challenges must come from many places, with everyone working together.”

“For example, in Ethiopia, our collaboration with the Jack Ma Foundation to distribute medical supplies to every African country soon after the outbreak of the pandemic through our national carrier Ethiopian Airlines, was motivated by the recognition that the pandemic was a collective challenge that called for shared responsibility. To survive, we had to work together, not against one another. And that is what we did.”

“Together with other African leaders, we collectively championed the cause for debt relief, for increased financing of the World Health Organization, and coordination in the search for vaccines and treatments. We are determined to continue on this course until the virus is defeated.”

Second, the Prime Minister said, “we need to build our capacity for resilience by investing in our productive capacity.”

The third priority is the need to invest in our overstrained healthcare system and to extend more healthcare to the most vulnerable people who live in extreme poverty. This pandemic has made clear the need for additional investments in personnel, equipment and facilities. In Ethiopia, in a typical year what we spend servicing our external debt is twice the size of our annual health budget.

Healthcare has been our single most important priority this year, with our spending in healthcare rising 46% on last year, making it the fourth largest sector in terms of budget spending.

The PM concluded with the improving investment opportunities in Ethiopia, as revised investment laws have opened Ethiopia’s markets to investors in telecommunications, logistics, energy and other industries.

Tourism projects will “no doubt make Ethiopia an attractive tourist destination in the years to come. Invest in Ethiopia, help us make these riches accessible, so the rest of humanity can come and have a world-class experience in Ethiopia”, the Prime Minister said.”

The Summit, held virtually for the first time, also featured two other Ethiopians – Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Ethiopia’s former Health and Foreign Minister, and the current WHO Director-General, who also delivered a keynote address; and Samrawit Fikru, CEO of RIDE (Hybrid Designs), who took part in the Doing Business in Africa session.

The Prime Minister’s speech is available on request, please email press@ethioembassy.org.uk.

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