Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde met with African Development Bank (AfDB) President Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina while on a working visit to Côte d’Ivoire.
Meeting Thursday at the Bank’s headquarters in Abidjan, they discussed Ethiopia’s current and post-Covid-19 development priorities. Describing the African Development Bank as Ethiopia’s development partner of choice, President Zewde commended the Bank for its longstanding support and its role in Ethiopia’s development.
“In so many areas — agriculture, transport, energy, the water sector, multisector — the support we have been getting for years from the African Development Bank, up to more than one billion dollars, has been very vital for Ethiopia,” she said.
She said Ethiopians had endured a difficult time over the past two years but that there were positive signs for the future despite the troubles the country was going through. “Industrial parks have especially brought about hope for many young Ethiopians, but specifically women,” she said.
Extolling the role of women in development, President Zewde said she was personally interested in the Bank’s youth employment/women empowerment project, describing it as one which is as close to her heart as it is to Dr. Adesina’s.
Lauding the partnership between the Bank and the Ethiopian government, Dr Adesina cited several Bank-financed initiatives which he said were helping to bring the Bank’s High 5 priorities to fruition in Ethiopia. “We are proud to have supported the Addis Ababa to Nairobi highway, which is linking Ethiopia and Kenya. This is a one-billion-dollar investment that we are financing, which is allowing Ethiopia and Kenya to increase bilateral trade by 400%.”
He identified other projects in the pipeline, including $402 million earmarked for investment in various operations, including the Addis Ababa Kebena Urban River Development Project, and an institutional project involving the private sector.
Dr Adesina reaffirmed support for Ethiopia’s efforts to address political instability internally and in the wider Horn of Africa region. “We will do everything we can to rally support around Ethiopia,” he assured President Zewde. “We all stand with you and pray that this will be resolved soon.”
According to President Zewde, following the country’s devastating war, recovering and rebuilding will be key government priorities for the Ethiopian government. She thanked Dr. Adesina for his assurance that the African Development Bank would be supporting the country in its continued quest for development as things returned to normal.
In 2021, the Board of the African Development Bank Group approved funding for a $27 million grant to boost nutrition in children aged 5 and under, the provision of better access to health services, and improved hygiene knowledge and practices.
Other strategic Bank support to Ethiopia includes a $47 million grant to support young entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector within the vicinity of agro-industrial parks.
In July 2020, the African Development Bank Group provided a $165 million African Development Fund grant to support Ethiopia’s Covid-19 response. In 2021, the country recorded a 6.3% economic growth rate, down from 8.3% pre-Covid-19 in 2019. The Bank collaborates with the Ethiopian government to strengthen the operational capacity of the Addis Ababa headquarters of the African Union.
Ethiopia spends an average of 58% of its national budget on activities directly reducing poverty and boosting life expectancy.
The African Development Bank’s portfolio in Ethiopia includes 20 projects with a value of about $1.6 billion across several sectors, including transport, energy, water and sanitation.