UAE and Ethiopia: Journeying towards shared developmental goals rooted around strong ties

UAE and Ethiopia: Journeying towards shared developmental goals rooted around strong ties

ABU DHABI, 18th August, 2023 (WAM) -- The deep-rooted friendship and cooperation between the UAE and Ethiopia continue to grow across various fields, a collaboration that has steadily driven comprehensive development in both countries.

The ongoing official visits and meetings between senior officials from the two countries reflect the depth and stability of UAE-Ethiopia relations, which are further enhanced with the support of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Dr. Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia.

Due to its high status and impact on the African region, Ethiopia is of great importance to the UAE, as part of its strategy to improve and broaden its relations with African countries.

The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the late Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, established the foundations of Emirati-Ethiopian relations. Since then, the ties between the two countries have grown stronger, especially after the opening of the Ethiopian Consulate in the UAE in 2004, followed by the UAE Embassy in Addis Ababa in July 2010 and the Ethiopian Embassy in Abu Dhabi in 2014. These steps have boosted the two countries’ cooperation in various fields, including political, economic, investment and cultural spheres.

Sharing values, a vision for progress and prosperity, and a strong friendship, the UAE and Ethiopia have aligned stances on various regional and global issues, with the UAE constantly driving and expanding its cooperation with Ethiopia across various areas.

The UAE-Ethiopian Joint Committee is an active platform for developing bilateral relations across various sectors and is instrumental in proposing practical solutions to enhance the two countries’ cooperation and overcome challenges that may limit their bilateral ties.

Through the committee, the UAE aims to bolster its bilateral cooperation with Ethiopia in various areas, including trade, investment, culture, aviation, renewable energy, agriculture, livestock, labour, mining, industry, ports, logistics and infrastructure.

A robust bilateral relationship has been established between the UAE and Ethiopia through the signing of strategic agreements and Memorandums of Understanding in various sectors, such as the economy, health, education, environment, technology, culture and services.

The UAE’s political stance towards Ethiopia mainly revolves around supporting peace and stability in the African country, driven by its belief in the need for stability, peace, coexistence and cooperation to achieve development and build a better future. Moreover, the UAE’s aid provided to Ethiopia totalled US$5.05 billion, of which development aid accounted for 89 percent, a testament to the UAE’s dedication to supporting stability and growth in Ethiopia.

Viewing Ethiopia as a key player in joint work in the African continent, the UAE made significant efforts to facilitate the Ethiopian-Eritrean peace process in 2018, leveraging its strong relations with the leadership in Addis Ababa and Asmara as a bridge towards a peace accord, which has positively impacted the wider Horn of Africa region.

As for their economic ties, Ethiopia and the UAE have been steadfast in boosting their economic cooperation through trade and investment. 

In 2022, the value of their non-oil trade reached US$1.4 billion, with imports totalling US$628 and imports totalling US$564.5. Ethiopia also has a fast-growing market that offers many opportunities for cooperation in different sectors. Both countries are keen to enhance their economic and development ties.

Meanwhile, the UAE invested US$2.9 billion in various Ethiopian sectors, including pharmaceuticals, aluminium, food and beverages, and chemicals.

Additionally, the UAE-Ethiopia Business Advisory Council is a key platform that supports Emirati investors and Ethiopian businesspersons to enhance their cooperation through identifying investment opportunities for Emirati business leaders in Ethiopia, addressing challenges faced by Emirati companies, promoting trade exchange, and fostering investment collaborations. It also facilitates constructive dialogue between representatives of the public and private sectors in both countries.

On the energy front, the UAE serves as one of the top supporters and financers of renewable energy projects in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian government signed an agreement with the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) in January 2023, in the presence of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia. The agreement provides for the development of solar photovoltaic energy projects with a capacity of up to 2,000 megawatts in Ethiopia, starting with 500 megawatts in the first phase.

Finally, culture acts as a main driver in bolstering ties between the two countries. In 2018, the UAE and Ethiopia signed a cultural cooperation agreement to collaborate in various areas of culture and knowledge development, covering heritage, archaeology, arts and libraries. The agreement aims to raise awareness of their national, cultural and artistic identities and strengthen the bonds between their peoples.

In May 2022, the UAE, represented by the Ministry of Culture and Youth, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, announced a batch of financial support for projects that aim to preserve global heritage and documents and human capital development in Africa. Among these projects is the restoration of the Yemrehana Krestos Church, considered one of the most symbolic sites in the country. It encompasses a palace and a church dating back to the 11th-12th centuries.


Tariq AlFaham