UK Minister for Africa visits Ethiopia

4 Aug 2020

UK’s Parliamentary Undersecretary of State (Minister for Africa), James Duddridge MP visited Ethiopia from 27th–29th July.

During his stay, he met senior Ethiopian Government officials and discussed bilateral as well as other issues of common interest.

Mr Duddridge held fruitful discussions with President Sahle-Work Zewdie, Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen, Foreign Affairs Minister Gedu Andargachew, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy , Dr (Eng.) Sileshi Bekele and High-level officials of the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Health.

Mr Duddridge and Ethiopia’s Minister of Finance, Ahmed Shide signed two grant agreements amounting to £105 million.

A first grant agreement, amounting to £60 million, will be used for the implementation of land investment for the transformation phase 2 programme. The programme aims to bring transformative, systematic and sustainable change in land certification and marketing systems in Amhara, Oromia, Tigray and SNNP regional states.

The second grant, amounting to £45 million, will be channelled into the economic transformation programme, designed in line with Ethiopia’s  outward-oriented, manufacturing-led, sustainable, and inclusive growth programme. The programme aims to support the Ethiopian government’s vision of export-led manufacturing growth through foreign and domestic investments. The programme will be implemented in Industrial Parks (IPs) built-in Oromia, Amhara, Tigray, and SNNP regional states.

In his meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E Gedu Andargachew expressed gratitude for the continued development assistance offered by the UK Government which is pertinent to the success of its development efforts.

Mr Gedu also informed the Minister that the new leadership in Ethiopia is willing to further strengthen the cooperation with the UK in areas of common interest.

The two also exchanged views following Minister Gedu’s briefing regarding the status of on-going dialogue between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt on GERD and the role of AU in the negotiation process. The discussion included the measures Ethiopia is taking to curb the spread and mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Duddridge also held talks with Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy, Dr Seleshi Bekele, who provided a briefing on the development activities that Ethiopia has been undertaking in the areas of safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, irrigation, watershed development and energy. He briefed the UK Minister on the current status of the GERD and its benefit to Ethiopia and downstream riparian countries. According to a tweet by the Ethiopian minister, “the Government of the UK anticipates a win-win solution so that all three countries, i.e. Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, reach an agreement over the GERD negotiation.’’

On the final day of his visit, Mr Duddridge met and held discussions with President Sahle-Work Zewde, Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen, and Oromia Regional State President Shimelis Abdisa.

At a press conference, Mr Duddridge said the UK welcomed the continued tripartite negotiations between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt on GERD. “We welcome President Cyril Ramaphosa’s mediation. We welcome the continued technical discussions on the dam.” He urged the countries to continue with their discussions, as it is important for the development of the region. “The dam is not just power for Ethiopia, but it will be sold to Sudan, it will be sold across the region,” he said. Mr Duddridge stressed the importance of the African Union in resolving the dispute.

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