The Relationship Between Angola and Ethiopia Is Historic: Ambassador Bembe

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Addis Ababa,November 23/2023(ENA)-Angola’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Miguel César Domingos Bembe has spoken exclusively to ENA on the bilateral and multilateral cooperation between the Ethiopia and Angola on related issues. Excerpts follow: 

ENA: Ambassador, thank you for your time for this interview. First, I would like to say congratulations on the 48th anniversary of Angola’s independence. 

Ambassador Bembe: Thank you very much. I would also say thank you for the opportunity ENA has granted me to address various issues inherent to bilateral and multilateral cooperation between the Angola and Ethiopia.

I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate ENA on its 80 plus years of existence, always at the service of Ethiopia, in the hard work of producing and distributing stories in texts, audio and video news on national, regional and international issues. 

To say a few words about Angola’s independence, I would like to remind that this achievement took place in a complex and challenging national and international context, influenced by the division dynamics of the Cold War.

When proclaiming Angola’s independence to Africa and the world on 11th of November 1975, the first President of the Republic, Dr António Agostinho Neto, made a commitment to defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and well- being of the Angolan people and a determination to contribute to the liberation of the oppressed peoples of the continent and the world. After nearly three decades of internal conflict, Angola finally achieved lasting peace on 4th of April 2002.

Now Angola celebrates 48 years of independence, the country stands as an example of conflict prevention, management and resolution in Africa, which resulted in the designation of President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço as African Union Champion for Peace and Reconciliation in Africa, in May 2022, in Malabo, Republic of Equatorial Guinea.

Our recent past has taught us to prioritize dialogue and political consultation in the framework of an ever more dynamic democracy that respects and values differences of opinion and advocates reinforcement of the country’s current environment of peace, security and stability.

As part of the celebrations of the 48th anniversary of Angola’s independence, I would like to highlight the inauguration, on November 10, 2023, of the new International Airport Dr António Agostinho Neto (AIAAN). It covers an area of one 1,324) hectares, with a capacity for 15 million passengers and a cargo volume of 130,000) tons per year.

The airport will be fully operational in three phases, the first of which will be cargo services, which began on the 11th of this month; the second, domestic flights, which will begin in February 2024 and the third international flights is scheduled for June 2024.

ENA: What do you think should be done to strengthen the existing relations between the two countries for the benefit of their peoples?

Ambassador Bembe: Indeed, the relationship between Angola and Ethiopia is one of history and friendship, inspired by the defence of multilateralism in the resolution of global problems and Pan-Africanism as the basis for the implementation of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, entitled “The Africa we want.”

Both countries share common values, based on the principles of democracy, good governance and respect for human rights, the prevention, management and peaceful resolution of conflicts, the regional security and stability, the protection of the environment and the fight against climate change, the promotion of growth and inclusive sustainable development and the acceleration of the process of continental integration, including inter and intra-African trade.

I recall that diplomatic relations between Angola and Ethiopia were established in 1977 and remain aligned with the interests of the respective governments. It is pertinent to expand and diversify these relations beyond diplomatic cooperation, with the aim of matching the current economic development and strategic influence of both countries.

We also need to capitalize on the opportunities of its geopolitical location (Angola, at the crossroads between the southern and central regions of the African continent, and Ethiopia, at the crossroads between Africa, the Middle East and Asia).

To this end, I would like to emphasize the need to consolidate the bilateral legal basis by concluding legal instruments, among others, general agreement on cooperation in the economic, technical, scientific and cultural fields, as well as political consultation.

I believe that it is very important to revise the legal instruments, specifically in the fields of air services which have been in effect since 1977 and trade instruments since 1981. I also believe that we should be looking at new areas of cooperation with comparative advantages, namely in the agricultural sector, in the agro-processing and pharmaceutical industries, in the development of industrial parks, as well as in the oil pipeline industry.

As I mentioned earlier, both countries signed the Bilateral Air Services Agreement in May 1977, which was supplemented by a Memorandum of Understanding in September 1998 to allow their airlines to operate daily passenger and cargo services between the two capitals. 

In January 1981, the two countries signed a Trade Agreement on the Exchange of Products and Goods, under which Ethiopia began exporting meat, oilseeds and wine to Angola.

For its part, Angolan exports to the Ethiopian market included oil products, crude oil, aluminum foil, marble, flour and fish oil, among other products. The two countries also set up a joint commission between their ministries of foreign and trade to monitor the implementation of the agreement.

The parties recognized the need to establish cooperation bases that are more in line with their current political, economic and social development and that offer reciprocal advantages.

ENA: What are the key areas in which the two countries can work together in the future?

Ambassador Bembe: I think I have made it clear that the relations of cooperation between Angola and Ethiopia have great potential for strengthening and diversifying, especially in the economic and investment fields. The leaderships of both countries are strongly committed in promoting this potential, particularly in the fields of aviation, oil and gas, mining, telecommunications, coffee, tourism, health, culture, sport and financial services.

ENA: In recent times, the economic potential of Ethiopia and Angola has emerged as a force capable of increasing bilateral cooperation. What should be done to strengthen economic cooperation between the two countries?

Ambassador Bembe: In fact, in recent decades, the economic development potential of both countries has been emerging as a driving force behind more comprehensive bilateral cooperation.

To increase this cooperation, we are also planning to hold an Economic Forum to encourage the establishment of a structured and dynamic relationship between companies, chambers of commerce and sectoral associations in both countries to foster cooperation in the private sector.

On the other hand, I think it is important to have political consultations at higher level to assess cooperation and prepare the conditions for a multi-sectoral ministerial meeting, during which legal instruments already initialed could be signed; the revision of the Air Services Agreement, providing the legal framework for a possible program of aeronautical training or maintenance and repair of Angolan aircraft.

I would like to take this opportunity to reinforce relevant information already shared, that our diplomatic mission is preparing an interactive Economic and Business Forum on investment opportunities in Angola, scheduled for the 27th of this month of November, with the aim of attracting investment in various areas of activity. With this event, we will be taking an important step towards strengthening economic cooperation between our countries.

ENA: What is the international and regional cooperation of the two countries like for mutual benefit and in African issues?

Ambassador Bembe: In the multilateral context, our relations are also very strong and should be continually reinforced. I emphasize cooperation in the field of peace and security, particularly in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations and beyond, an area in which Ethiopia has a great deal of experience.

In this context, in 2020, Angola approved a law authorising the deployment of military and paramilitary contingents outside the country as part of humanitarian aid and peace support operations. 

The threats posed by terrorism and violent extremism in Africa are security challenges that require the two states to take concerted action within the framework of existing national and continental mechanisms. This is a good opportunity, as Angola will be a member of the African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC-AU) for the 2024-2025 biennium and will preside over the destinies of the continental organization in 2025.

ENA: What is your opinion on the participation of the two countries in speeding up the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)?

Ambassador Bembe: With regard to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), it is essential to align the national political agenda of each state with the goals pursued by this flagship project of the African Union, a common market of around 1.3 billion people.

Angola, as a state party, ratified and deposited the required legal instruments in November 2020, thus contributing to the entry into force of the Agreement in January 2021. The Angolan Government, led by President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, is working to improve the business environment in the country and on the continent, boosting industry and encouraging an increase in national production, through several strategic plans. 

In this context, Angola seeks to domesticate or appropriate international commitments under the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

Ethiopia, thanks to its great agro-industrial potential, should take a leading role in the operationalization of the AfCFTA, expanding inter and intra-African trade, while at the same time promoting support for other African states through the sharing of knowhow, thereby boosting the growth of the food production and processing industry on the African continent.

 

Ethiopian News Agency
2023