Official visit to Ethiopia: Opening of business seminar
Honourable President Mulatu Teshome,
Businessmen and women,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Crown Prince and I have been looking very much forward to our first visit to Ethiopia. For us, this is indeed special – as Ethiopia holds quite a unique position in the history of the Norwegian royal family.
The strong relationship between our two countries is built on a solid foundation: On true friendship – and on the common challenges we face as global citizens.
King Haakon developed a close relationship with Emperor Haile Selassie in London – where they both had to seek refuge during the Second World War. A few years later, Emperor Haile Selassie conducted a state visit to Norway, which was returned in 1966 by King Haakon’s successor, King Olav. We have read vivid descriptions of this visit to Ethiopia more than 50 years ago. King Olav obviously experienced the same warm hospitality as the Crown Prince and I have enjoyed since we arrived yesterday.
Since those days when friendships were formed, Norway and Ethiopia have established a cooperation based on a wide range of mutual interests. We cooperate on issues like peace and security, migration, humanitarian efforts and gender equality.
The key question reflected in our bilateral relations is this:
How do we secure a sustainable development for our planet?
Tackling climate change is one of the most pressing concerns for the world today.
Three of the areas of Norwegian-Ethiopian cooperation are directly related to this issue: Protection of forests, sustainable agriculture, and renewable energy.
Earlier this morning we witnessed the signing of an agreement of great importance to both our countries. It carries great potential financially and with regard to sustainable agriculture.
Ethiopia is now one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. The economic transformation over the past decades has been impressive – and we applaud Ethiopia’s plans to become a middle-income country by 2025.
Today's seminar illustrates how our bilateral relations have expanded to new areas, in particular in trade and investment. The participating Norwegian business delegation reflects the growing Norwegian interest in private sector development in Ethiopia.
The private sector is an important part of the solution for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. In fact, in developing countries it generates nine out of ten jobs. The private sector is already delivering the technology, the capital and solutions needed to develop sustainable societies ahead of the 2030 deadline.
One important area for business development is infrastructure. Good roads are vital for transporting goods to markets. Ethiopia has made impressive progress in improving its physical infrastructure. This is also making the country more attractive for business, both as a market and as an investment destination.
This visit will give Norwegian companies an opportunity to share experience and engage with Ethiopian businesses, and perhaps to form new partnerships in one of the most promising markets in Africa.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Ethiopia is an important country for Norway.
We share history, we share friendships, we share interests.
And Ethiopia is an important country for the global community.
As the heart of the African continent, as home to the African Union, Ethiopia holds a position we stand beside you to support.
May this business seminar foster cooperation that will strengthen the bonds between our two countries.