Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman visited Ethiopia along with a business delegation composed of 50 Israeli economic and business entities from different sectors this week.
The Foreign Minister arrived in Addis Ababa on Monday June 16th for his two day trip. Liberman came to Ethiopia as part of a 10-day strategic tour of five African countries; Rwanda, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Kenya.
He cited cooperation with Africa on both humanitarian and socio-political planes as areas of focus. Israel sees agriculture, water technology, medicine, and combating terror as areas Israel can provide assistance to Africa.
“The relationship with African countries is of strategic importance for the State of Israel, from the diplomatic, economic and security standpoint as it is on many other levels. At the beginning of the term of the previous government in 2009, I visited Africa, the first time in many years an Israeli foreign minister visited the region. And since then, we have seen the positive outcome that have resulted in the strengthening of cooperation in fields that are important to both Israel and the African countries,” the minister stated prior to his visit.
He also stated that he would continue to strengthen these ties and extend them to other countries and issues.
During his stay in Addis Ababa, the minister met high-level Ethiopian government officials including President Mulatu Teshome, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn and Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom.
The business delegation who came along with the minister participated in a business seminar and had a one on one discussion organized by the Israeli Embassy in collaboration with Ethiopian and Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce and Sectorial Associations. The delegation of 50 is involved in several sectors including agriculture and water technology, mining and energy, life science, IT, banking and homeland security.
During the occasion Tedros Adhanom stated that the two nations have an age long relation but trade and investment are at a low stage.
According to Tedros Ethiopia’s successive economic growth is luring many multinational companies. He promised Ethiopia’s support for Israeli companies to boost Ethiopia’s economy.
The bilateral trade between the two countries has been increasing, according to recent data; the total trade has reached USD 112 Million in 2013 from USD 46 Million in 2004. According to the Ethiopian Investment Agency, there are currently 200 Israeli companies that have acquired licenses and 64 of them have already started operation. The companies are involved in agriculture, specifically in sesame, horticulture and floriculture production.
Among the 50 companies that accompanied the Israeli foreign minister were: Arava Power Company, which reportedly is doing a feasibility study on developing geothermal and solar energy in Ethiopia. Another company was Mekorot Development and Enterprise. The Enterprise is also reportedly keen on engaging in Ethiopia’s water technology and is looking for a possible local partner.