UK Foreign Secretary visits Ethiopia in whistle-stop Africa tour

8 May 2019

UK Foreign Secretary, the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, visited Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Kenya in a bid to make the case for new UK partnerships across Africa.

The Foreign Secretary visited Ethiopia on 2nd May, where he spoke at the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day celebrations in Addis Ababa, setting out his vision to improve media freedom around the world.

“I’m delighted to be in Ethiopia, where under Prime Minister Abiy’s leadership the new government has transformed political discourse by allowing the creation of hundreds of websites, blogs, and newspapers.”

“Since the Prime Minister assumed office last year, Ethiopia has climbed the World Press Freedom Index faster than any other country, rising 40 places and showing just how much can be achieved when the political will exists.”

The Foreign Secretary called on leaders to recognise that a “media freedom is not a ‘Western’ value, still less a colonial-style imposition, but instead a force for progress from which everyone benefits.”


…UK announces £15.5 million assistance for Ethiopia’s election

In his speech, the Foreign Secretary also announced that £15.5 million in UK aid will be given to help Ethiopia run transparent, free and fair elections.

The money will build the capacity of the elections board and help make electoral operations more transparent and enhance communications and engagement by the National Election Board of Ethiopia. It will also prevent electoral violence through enhanced monitoring and early warning, improving the effectiveness of electoral dispute mechanisms.


If successful and peaceful, the elections in May 2020 will be a major step towards building a fully democratic culture in Ethiopia and will lay a platform for the continuation and deepening of Prime Minister Abiy’s political and economic reforms.

The Foreign Secretary also announced a new Chevening Africa Media Fellowship programme that will allow 60 exceptional African journalists over the next 5 years to gain experience in the newsrooms of Britain’s leading media organisations. This year, applicants from ten African countries will be eligible, including Ethiopia.

To read Mr Hunt’s speech in full, go to:


…PM Abiy meets UK Foreign Secretary

Prime Minister Abiy received Mr Hunt at his office on 2nd  May where they discussed strengthening the relationship between Ethiopia and the UK as well as support for reforms.

Prime Minister Abiy expressed Ethiopia’s gratitude to the UK government for its long-term support.

Mr. Hunt invited Prime Minister Abiy to be a keynote speaker at the Defend Media Freedom conference in London in July this year.

Earlier the Foreign Secretary also met the newly-appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Gedu Andargachew, to discuss ways to deepen ties between the two countries.

Minister Gedu applauded the growing ties and historical relations between the UK and Ethiopia, thanking the UK government’s commitment to supporting Ethiopia during a time of transformation on the political and economic fronts.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt commended Ethiopia’s significant contributions to the maintenance of peace and security in the region, while also expressing his country’s commitment to work more closely with Ethiopia in this domain.


…. Ethiopian Airlines crash victims remembered in tree-planting ceremony at the British Embassy

While in Ethiopia, Jeremy Hunt planted a tree at the British Embassy in Addis Ababa in memory of the victims of the tragic Ethiopian Airlines crash in March when 149 passengers and 8 crew members perished.

Mr. Hunt said: “We were devastated that nine British nationals lost their lives in the ET302 crash, but actually when you talk to the staff here, nearly everyone had a friend or family member that was involved in that.

“So, we were really wanting to commemorate the people of over 30 countries who lost their lives when that tragedy happened.

“We also wanted to thank staff here, because there is an awful lot of very challenging work that has to be done in terms of contact with relatives, and we also had two DVI (disaster victim identification) experts from Kent, who have spent the last few weeks doing the incredibly difficult job of sifting through body remains for DNA samples, so I wanted to thank them personally for that work.”


…UK commits to advancing cooperation with Ethiopia

Earlier in April, State Minister of Foreign Affairs Mrs. Hirut Zemene conferred with Mr. Julian Reilly, UK Special Envoy for the Red Sea and Horn of Africa.

Both sides accentuated the importance of elevating the already-existing strong relations to new heights.

Mrs. Hirut appreciated the Ethio-UK collaboration for the peace and stability of the Red Sea and Horn of Africa region, taking note of the historical commitment from both sides for the peace, security and prosperity of the region.

Mrs. Hirut emphasized Ethiopia’s commitment to bolstering the implementation of South Sudan’s revitalized peace deal under the IGAD framework as well as its support to Somalia.

Mrs. Hirut also underpinned the importance of strengthening the institutions in Somalia for durable peace.

Mr. Julian Reilly commended Ethiopia’s continued commitment to regional peace and security including in South Sudan and Somalia.

The Special Envoy expressed the UK’s commitment to advancing cooperation with Ethiopia both bilaterally and under the IGAD framework in a bid to ensure development and peace and security in the Red Sea and Horn of Africa region.

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