JEDDAH: The Kingdom has requested around 30,000 laborers including housemaids, drivers and technical staff from Ethiopia, said Hallemariam Dessalegn, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, in an interview Sunday with Saudi Gazette at the Jeddah Conference Palace.
He said that his country would make sure all workers sent to the Kingdom are well-trained. For this purpose, he added, there are a number of training centers. Dessalegn said that the environment in his country was conducive to investment. “There are huge investment opportunities in mining, agriculture, tourism, construction and real estate.
Saudi Arabia, he said, is among the top investors in Ethiopia. “Saudi businessmen have invested around SR2 billion in agriculture in Ethiopia,” he said. He said the number of Saudi tourists has also gone up due to the ongoing unrest in several countries in the Arab world. “We (Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia) will sign three agreements for the promotion of livestock and agriculture, promotion and protection of investment and avoidance of double taxation,” Dessalegn said.
The deputy prime minister said that they are working on a dam project, which will have a capacity to produce 5,200 megawatts of electricity.
“Energy is very important to develop our land. Countries like Egypt and Sudan can cooperate with us by purchasing the energy when the project is completed,” he said.
The construction of this dam would help meet the energy demands of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt, he added. “This dam, named the Border Dam, will help us to protect our land and some areas of neighboring Sudan from floods during the rainy season.”
“In order to convince our brothers in Sudan and Egypt, we have established a technical committee comprising representatives from Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt and international experts to analyze and evaluate the design and benefits of this dam for all of us,” he said.
Dessalegn said that his country would also construct a desalination plant.
Commenting on the security situation in Somalia, he said that Al-Shabab militant group has become very weak because it lacks popular support and Somali people want them out. If they no longer operate then there would be an exodus of foreign elements from within the group.
“The African Union is supporting the current Somali transitional government to maintain peace in the country. If the politicians keep focusing on common objectives, it will help the government to work very well,” he said.
He said that his country is also playing an important role in curbing weapons smuggling from Eritrea to Somalia. “The international community must look into the matter to ensure lasting peace in Somalia,” he said. Ethiopia, he added, alongside the African Union is also working for a peaceful settlement of the issue of South Sudan.
“We want them to live in peace; the separation must be done in a peaceful manner. We are supporting the separation of north and south of Sudan on the historic day of July 9,” he said.
He revealed that Ethiopia was also planning to open its embassy in South Sudan after July 9.
“On the other hand, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will travel to Ethiopia this month to discuss trade, development and other issues with the Ethiopian government.”
He said that his government plans to discuss the export of products from the US to Ethiopia without any tariffs and to boost US investment in the country.
“Clinton will also discuss a program to launch a clean energy stove designed by Ethiopians.”
Ethanol gas would be used in the stove, he said, adding that it would not harm the environment or human health. “The US government is supporting us in the fields of agriculture, education and through grants to fight HIV,” he said.
Meanwhile, an Ethiopian delegation Saturday called on King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, at his palace in Riyadh. The two sides discussed ways to enhance ties.
Source: Saudi Gazette