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South Africans and Ethiopians - a kindred relation

23 January 2020

Looking back on Ethiopia’s rich history, and its relations with South Africa, it is surprising that Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Dr Abiy Ahmed Ali’s visit to South Africa is the first official visit by an Ethiopian Head of State to this country. This was, in fact, the first state-level visit either way between the two of African countries.

Photo: President Cyril Ramaphosa and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali ahead of Official Talks at the Union Buildings. (Kopano Tlape GCIS)

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali was the chief guest at the 108th anniversary of the African National Congress (ANC), the majority political party in South Africa’s democratically constituted parliament under the presidency of President Cyril Ramaphosa. While in South Africa, Prime Minister Abiy addressed the Ethiopian diaspora at a rally in Johannesburg.

Nelson Mandela had an Ethiopian passport once; this is indicative of the kindred relations between these two African nations. Majestic Ethiopia is a land of 100 million people in a region of the ancient Amharic language and a diversity of cultures incorporated with the monastic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

As the countries engaged with this behemoth called democracy, the presidencies shared their political experience on a range of challenges and issues. These include the provision of equitable healthcare which is becoming a universal focus and the continuous dialogue and exchange on trade and investment as the African Continent-wide Free Trade Agreement comes into effect.

Travel and migration in an interconnected planet is linking Africans through new and innovative platforms. The increase of enhancing constructive people to people connections is the clear aim of this Presidential visit. The two leaders further agreed on the need for both countries to work together to address illegal migration, human trafficking and smuggling.

At a press briefing Ambassador Shiferaw of Ethiopia to South Africa referred to the acceleration of the GDP rate of the Ethiopian economy, the increasing per capita income, and the improvement of the democratic stability in the region related to the encompassing political changes being experienced in a nation that has never experienced colonization. A sizeable number of Ethiopians live in South Africa and have entered into various business enterprise activities while two dozen South African corporations have found market opportunities in Ethiopia.

Addis Ababa, Arica’s diplomatic capital will host the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union from 21 January to 10 February 2020, under the theme “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa's Development”.  South Africa will assume its position as AU chair.

Half a century has passed since many African nations freed themselves from the yolk of colonialism. The aftermath of independence has together with the information age led to a younger generation who perceive Africa and the world differently.  The cooperation on education seeks to join databases and develop centres of knowledge to share ideas and keep the citizens informed, while interlinking skills and resources.

South Africa and Ethiopia have signed an agreement on the waiver of visa requirements for holders of diplomatic or official/service passports said the joint communique. The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the field of tourism. The two Heads of State anticipate the MoU will be key to the creation of employment opportunities, especially for the youth.

A Joint Ministerial Commission is envisaged to take place in Addis Ababa, this while the two ministers of International Relations Naledi Pandor and Gedu Andargachew will focus on crafting a strategic partnership between the respective countries, elevating the pace and intensity of relations based on outcomes and providing dynamic yet sustainable resolutions.




February/March 2020

















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