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Norway, Canada to Strengthen, Boost Cooperation with Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa - Norway and Canada have expressed interest to strengthen and boost their multi-faceted cooperation with Ethiopia.

Norway is keen to strengthen cooperation in agriculture, education, health, migration, peace and security; and Canada in food security, agro-business, and peace and security.

In an exclusive interview with ENA, Norway’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Andreas Gaarder said, “We are already engaged in areas of agriculture which I always consider as the backbone of our engagement and we are also working in partnership in crucial areas such as education, migration and strengthening good governance and democracy as well as regional stability.”

According to him, health is also the major area where his country will broadly engage since global health coverage is still a challenge.

There will be no new area of cooperation this year “but a matter of deepening and strengthening the already existing cooperation which is broad all in itself”, he said.

Ambassador Gaarder pointed out the recent visit of Crown Prince Haakon Magnus and Foreign Minister Marie Eriksen Søreide signifies the breadth and depth of the cooperation between the two countries.

Speaking about investment in Ethiopia, the Ambassador said “… there is a lot of interest in other areas (besides the potash mining underway in the country), and I sense investors from the region are looking at the Ethiopian market.”

Commenting about development in the country, Gaarder said “I am very happy to see the changes that Ethiopia has traveled so far and expect more economic activities between the two countries.”

Ethiopia is one of the 12 focus countries for Norwegian development cooperation worldwide and a pilot country for Norway's global education assistance.

In 2017 the first direct flight between Oslo and Addis Ababa took place as the first African airline ever to land in Norway, further strengthen the Ethio-Norwegian relationship.

Canada’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Philip Baker on his part has expressed his country’s interest in advancing the "excellent" bilateral cooperation with Ethiopia.

Empowering women, food security as well as peace and security are few of the many areas that will strengthen our cooperation, he stated, adding that “this is something huge for Canada coming in Ethiopia this year.”

“We are looking for more agro-business whereby we can look for Canadian firms to work with Ethiopian firms to add more value to the raw product, be it tomatoes or teff,” the Ambassador said.

Baker stated that Canada wants to see more value added products before any product leaves the country and creating massive job opportunities for many young Ethiopians is very important.

“The deep-rooted relationship between the two countries is not just built on development, which is strong, but also on trade, policy and partnering,” he emphasized.

The flow of Canadian investors and the Ethiopian Airlines flights to Canada have increased over the years and this certainly is a sign of interest to unleash the potential here, Baker said.

He noted “Ethiopia is effectively implementing an excellent program on safety net in bringing eight million people out of poverty, half of whom are women.”

According to Baker, Ethiopia has a number of comparative advantages and the government is engaged in huge infrastructural investments like roads which will provide access for small communities to get their products to the market.

He suggested that the government keep up working on the reform to show the international community that Ethiopia is open for business and safe and stable.

Ethiopia is a country of focus for Canada’s international development assistance, and Canada is the third largest bilateral country donor to Ethiopia. Canada’s bilateral development cooperation program is focused on food security, agricultural growth and sustainable economic growth.

Interventions also recognize the importance of advancing democracy and human rights to ensure that Ethiopia’s development progress is inclusive and sustainable