Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark visited Ethiopia this week (March 25-27). She was accompanied by the Danish Minister for Development Cooperation, Ms Ulla Tørnæs. The Crown Princess met and held talks with President Sahle-Work Zewde as well as the Minister of Women, Children and Youth, Mrs Yalem Tsegaye, and Dr Fitsum Assefa, Minister of the Planning and Development Commission. Discussions covered Danish-Ethiopian cooperation programs and bilateral relations. This is the second visit of Crown Princess Mary to Ethiopia.
One of the key aspects of her visit revolved around the Ethiopian government’s ambitious targets in terms of reform, especially the empowerment of women. The Danish delegation witnessed this in its meetings with female decision-makers, officials, business leaders and entrepreneurs. In Addis Ababa, the Crown Princess met women officials at the Ethiopian parliament, visited St. Paul’s Hospital and toured the new Michu fertility and clinic. She praised ongoing developments in the health sector of the country, especially family planning services and works on reducing mother and child mortality. Denmark is giving 20 million kroner for internally displaced people in the Somali Regional State to provide better access to reproductive health services.
Crown Princess Mary is Patron of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, “to support the agency's work to promote maternal health and safer motherhood in more than 150 developing nations”.
The Crown Princess also focused on the refugee situation in Ethiopia which hosts one of Africa’s biggest refugee populations. She and Minister Tørnæs visited a refugee reception center in Shire Endaselassie, in Tigray regional state, as well as a home for unaccompanied minors and a local school all built using Danish aid funds. They also visited a centre for women who are victims of human trafficking and enter into discussions that focus on stability, irregular migration and the green transition. In fact, Ethiopia and Denmark collaborate closely on migration issues through the Valletta action plan, Common Agendas for Migration and Mobility (CAMM), the Khartoum process and Horn of Africa Initiatives. Ethiopia works very closely with UNHCR on this issue and has launched its Comprehensive Refugees Response Framework this year.
Ethiopia and Denmark have a long-standing history of development cooperation. UN Secretary-General Guterres has asked Denmark to take the lead on greening the energy sector following the success of the P4G-summit in Copenhagen last year. Denmark cooperates with Ethiopia in Sustainable Energy for All, sharing experiences and solutions on access to energy and sustainable transitions to renewable, efficient energy. The two countries are mutually committed to the global agenda on climate change and green growth and both countries are founders of the P4G initiative (Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals). The government of Denmark has approved concessional loans of 161.4 million Euros to finance the Assela wind farm (100 MW) in an agreement in May last year. A grant agreement amounting to 28 million DKK (approximately 4.5million USD), was signed in December 2016, and is being used to support the effort of diversifying power generation from renewable sources and increase climate resilience.
Denmark launched a first five year (2018-2022) country strategy program with Ethiopia last year, setting aside 1 billion kroner (US$150 million) in aid to help promote democracy, fight poverty and create sustainable growth in Ethiopia. Engineer Sileshi Bekele, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity and Danish Minister for Development Cooperation, Ms Tørnæs, signed an agreement expanding the Danish-Ethiopian strategic sector cooperation and partnership on energy in October 2018. This allows the “Accelerating Wind Power Generation” program which started in 2017 to run to the end of 2020, and Denmark has increased financial support to the program with another 7 million kroner for sustainable development with modern wind energy.
According to the Ethiopian Investment Commission there are 72 Danish investment projects with a total capital of 75 million birr in Ethiopia. Ethiopia would like to see more Danish companies invest in Ethiopia particularly in the manufacturing sector so they could produce export-oriented products manufactured in Ethiopia. It also believes there is room for a considerable increase in trade as well. Total trade in 2017 was only worth US$23.4 million of which Ethiopian exports were worth no more than US$1.3 million.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, London, UK.