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Canada tightens its grip in Africa, with US$10M boost

The $10-million contribution is to the African Union Commission for gender equality and women’s empowerment, and Trudeau said Canada and Ethiopia are about to start negotiating a Foreign Investment Protection Agreement.

Canada, the world’s second largest country and the fastest economy among G7 has set aside $10 million for developing African women, and slated potential investment agreement with Ethiopia.

The $10-million contribution is to the African Union Commission for gender equality and women empowerment.

The Canadian Prime Minister (with his first visit to Ethiopia) spent the first full day of a three-day trip to Addis Ababa meeting with some of the African Union’s heaviest performers in a series of one-on-one on the sidelines of the union’s 33rd sessional meeting in Addis Ababa.

Canada and Ethiopia

According to the Canadian media, Global News, Trudeau said Canada and Ethiopia are about to start negotiating a Foreign Investment Protection Agreement.

Also, the Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng, who is in Africa with a trade delegation of Canadian companies, wouldn’t say how long those negotiations could take or what the agreement could look like. Many times these agreements take several years to put in place.

However, Canada and Ethiopia currently have a relatively small trading relationship — just $170 million in two-way trade in 2018.

Evidently, the Ethiopian economy has exploded in the last two decades, with the gross domestic product per person soaring 189 per cent between 2000 and 2018, and being the fastest growing economy in the continent. Addis Ababa is a city in transformation, with construction cranes and new high-rise buildings all over the city’s core.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has been noted by distinguished entities to be a vibrant leader towards transforming the nation, was appreciative of the support from Canada over the years.

“We Ethiopians have a deep sense of friendship to Canada,” he said.

Abiy has been named as one of the most influential leaders in Africa including by New Africa magazine in both 2018 and 2019, and Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people list of 2019. Last fall he was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Ethiopia, has been aggressive in pushing further its development landscape, hence—much is expected, following a private meeting with Abiy, Trudeau noted the promise of Ethiopia’s fast-growing economy and said their meetings were a chance to take Canada and Ethiopia’s relationship to the next level.

Canada’s commitment to Africa

Canada has cultivated relationships in Africa for more than five decades through our work with African countries and with regional and international bodies.

Over the past decades, Canada has focused its international development efforts in Sub-Sahran Africa in ten countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Senegal, South Sudan and Tanzania.

Hence—the early commitment could further the relationships. Thus, this could be his bid to get African votes for Canada’s attempt to win a United Nations Security Council seat later this year.

Canada is up against Norway and Ireland for two seats available to a group of countries that includes western Europe, Canada, Israel, Australia and New Zealand among some others.

However, African leaders conversed with Trudeau over meetings seemed to discuss on potential opportunities for the continent’s economic growth, but also, climate change and gender equality also played high on the agenda.

Trudeau sat down with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Cape Verde Prime Minister José Ulisses Correia e Silva, and Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chair of the African Union.

On Saturday night Trudeau spoke at an event about Africa’s “blue economy” which refers to using water bodies for sustainable economic growth.

The Canadian news outlet, also noted that, Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde, appreciated Trudeau “strong feminist policy” and support for women’s empowerment initiatives.

Zewde is the only female head of government in Africa currently, and is currently considered to be the most powerful woman in Africa.

Canada quest for UN security council seat

The news agency, also reported that, several African scholars have said Trudeau did not do enough in his first four years in power to improve diplomatic ties or economic associations in Africa and is only coming to the table now when he wants the votes.

African countries will have 54 votes out 193 total cast.

Apparently, Trudeau is in Africa at the same time as the head of Norway, Prime Minister Erna Solberg. The two politely waved at each other across the room at the morning women’s empowerment breakfast and had a polite embrace in the evening prior to the blue economy discussion.

However, Solberg told reporters earlier in the day she didn’t want to criticize Canada but she felt Norway’s aid spending was proportionately higher than Canada’s and that Norway has been a steadier partner for Africa over the years.

“I think one of the differences, of course, is we have been on the steady same path for a very long time, so they know us,” Solberg said.

In addition, cabinet ministers accompanying Trudeau insist the relationship with Africa is not last-minute, nor is it solely because Canada needs many of Africa’s 54 votes at the UN to win the seat.

“It’s not like we were absent and now we are showing up. Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Families Minister Ahmed Hussen.

Solberg also met with Abiy and Zewde on Saturday. She also was in Ethiopia a year ago when she had talks with Abiy, and Abiy visited Norway last fall to accept his peace prize and meet with the country’s top leaders.

Source: The Exchange

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