Chinese and Ethiopian train drivers shake hands, celebrating a railway station operational in Addis Ababa. [Photo/Xinhua]
China is a source of inspiration as Ethiopia modernizes its economy.
Arkebe Oqubay, special adviser to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemaraim Desalegn, said he believes the Belt and Road Initiative will bring further tangible benefits to the East African nation through enhanced trade and investment.
Building industrial parks and the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway are among the latest examples of how China’s businesses in the country can drive economic development and boost employment.
“China has long been focusing on fighting poverty,” said Oqubay on the sidelines of the Shanghai Forum, an annual international symposium on Asian and world affairs, at the weekend.
“It has successfully lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. It also specializes in manufacturing－creating millions of jobs. So it has been a source of inspiration for us.”
Oqubay pointed out that Ethiopia was not only a participant but a pioneer in the Belt and Road Initiative.
He felt the program of rapid development can help transform his country from a low-income agricultural-based economy into a medium-income, export-oriented one by 2030.
“The Belt Road Initiative creates a win-win situation for China and Africa,” said Oqubay. “The underlying values and principles include nonintervention in internal affairs, mutual benefits and peaceful coexistence, which are all similar to those of the United Nations Charter.”
With a young population, Ethiopia is banking on overseas investment in industrial parks to create jobs and produce a stable and thriving economy.
Chinese companies are major investors in the country and during the past 15 years have financed 20 percent of all manufacturing-related projects.
China Communications Construction Co is one of the biggest players and has been involved in a range of activities from building industrial parks, roads and railways to setting up leather factories.
The aim has always been to bolster economic growth without causing environmental damage.
“Africa is perhaps the last frontier on the earth for textile production,” said Oqubay.
“We have together built zero liquid discharge systems in these facilities so that up to 95 percent of water is recycled.”
Oqubay also expected another dividend to come out of the Belt and Road Initiative－an extension to the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway to cover the west part of the continent.
“This would boost tourism by attracting more travelers,” he said.
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