THE Ethiopian government has expressed a keen interest in signing bilateral agreements with Lesotho to promote mutually beneficial economic relations.
This was said by Ethiopia’s recently appointed Ambassador to Lesotho Mulugeta Kelil Beshir in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Express on Friday.
He said the two countries would soon sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on economic cooperation.
Ambassador Beshir was in the country from last Tuesday to Friday from his base in Pretoria, South Africa to present his credentials to King Letsie III and also meet with Trade and Industry Minister, Joshua Setipa to discuss economic ties between the two countries.
He said a symbiotic relationship was important for the two countries given Ethiopia’s status as one of the fastest growing economies in Africa and Lesotho’s position as a top exporter of natural resources.
“Ethiopia wishes to engage in economic cooperation with Lesotho in the fields of trade, agriculture, tourism and natural resources which will be possible once the two countries have signed a Memorandum of Understanding,” Ambassador Beshir said.
“It is through this basis that the people of Ethiopia will share their development experiences with Basotho and also learn from them how to effectively manage natural resources such as safe drinking water and diamonds,” he said.
He said Lesotho could learn from the huge strides that his country had made towards economic development such as the construction of railway lines and the establishment of specialised institutions.
“Ethiopia, just like Lesotho, is a landlocked country but we have made great strides to ensure that that does not hinder our economic freedom. We constructed a 756KM electronic railway in Addis Ababa which has greatly improved the transportation of commodities and this task which was done by sixty trucks in four days now only takes 12 hours.
“Our country has more than 40 institutions that specialise in certain courses such as leather tanning and textiles. We also have huge privately owned industrial zones which people use to operate their businesses. Our airline is also one of the biggest where pilots and technicians from different countries can come and learn.”
Mr Beshir said Lesotho could benefit from trade with his country.
“Lesotho is number one textile exporter in Africa whereas Ethiopia ranks nine. However we have textile institutions to train our people to manage the textile production,” he said, adding Lesotho could also benefit by sending trainees who would capacitated with managerial skills.
“We are willing to send young Basotho to Ethiopia to learn at these institutions for free but the number will be determined by the terms of the MOU we will sign.
“We wish also to learn about natural resources management from Lesotho who we also value as a friend because they voted Ethiopia to be a member of the United Nations 2017/2018 Security Council.”
He said he had a fruitful meeting with Mr Setipa, adding the latter shared his government’s interest in spearheading economic development.
“We further discussed some areas where the two countries would benefit from each other upon establishing bilateral relations and all will be revealed after the signing of the MOU soon.”
He said the MOU only awaited Lesotho’s approval.