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Brazil’s first ever presidential visit to Ethiopia on Friday, May 24, saw the two sides sign four cooperation agreements that Ethiopian officials consider signal the entry of the emerging South American powerhouse into a large scale involvement in Ethiopia’s economy.
The two sides signed cooperation agreements in areas of agriculture, aviation science and technology as well as education.
Brazil’s Foreign Minister, Antonio Patriota, signed the first three agreements with Ethiopia’s Agriculture Minister, Tefera Deribew, Transport and Communication Minister, Diriba Kuma, and Science and Technology Minister, Mahamuda Gass.
The agreements were signed in Addis Ababa after Brazil’s President, Dilma Vana Rousseff, and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn held talks on bilateral cooperation at the Prime Minister’s Office.
Rousseff is the first Brazilian president to visit Ethiopia but Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I had visited Brazil in 1960.
The Latin American emerging power has growing interests in Africa particularly in the areas of mining while African countries are showing growing interests for investments and financial deals with Brazil.
Accordingly, there has been growing diplomatic relations between the two sides over the last 10 years. During this decade, for example, Brazil opened and re-opened 17 embassies in Africa raising its diplomatic missions in the continent to 37, according to a Brazilian Foreign Ministry official who came with the presidential delegate. Its embassy in Addis Ababa is on the list of the re-opened.
Rousseff has, therefore, come to Addis Ababa with a number of senior officials including her Foreign Minister, Antonio Patriota, Education Minister as well as directors of Petrobras and Brazil’s Development Bank.
According to the Foreign Ministry official, the two leaders have discussed on future cooperation in the areas of mining and investment financing.
“This is a landmark visit, a turning point in Ethio-Brazil relations,” Berhane Gebrekiristos, Ethiopia’s State Minister of Foreign Affairs, said after the signing agreement.
There is a clear political commitment from Brazil to intensify cooperation with Ethiopia focusing on infrastructure development and mining, Berhane added. The two governments will also work to bring more Brazilian investors to Ethiopia.
Rousseff is in Addis Ababa to attend the Special Summit of the African Union that took place yesterday in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Pan-African organization. On Saturday morning she took part in a high level debate of African leaders at the AU headquarters. She also spoke at the special summit held at the Millennium Hall of Addis Ababa.
A deal with the AU on exchange of professors between Brazilian and African universities was also in her program.