By Addis Getachew
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) - Visiting Ethiopia on Saturday, a newly inaugurated EU leader signed a pact to provide the Horn of Africa nation with financing totaling €170 million ($188 million).
“For us you are just more than a neighbor,” said European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during her visit, adding that the two continents share a dream of peace and prosperity. “The African Union is a partner I count on.”
Of the total financing, €100 million is direct budgetary support, €50 million is to support the health sector, €10 million is for education, and €10 million is for job creation.
During the visit of von der Leyen, who took office on Dec. 1, she met with Nobel Peace Prize-winning Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat.
In her first visit outside the EU since taking office, von der Leyen will also pay a courtesy call on Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde, Africa’s only woman president.
In a joint press briefing with Faki Mahamat, Leyen said: “There is room for greater cooperation between Europe and Africa.”
She urged investment in the digital economy in Africa, which she said is “proliferating from Tunisia (in the north) and South Africa” in addition to the need to bolster partnership in the area of fighting climate change.
Speaking of broader multilateral partnership, Leyen said: “We can be strong partners within the United Nations system.”
“Many of our priorities coincide,” she said.
For his part, Moussa Faki commended the partnership that exists between the two continental bodies in the areas of peace and security and the fight against terrorism.
According to the EU Commission, the European Union is Africa’s largest trading partner, with trade between the two continents totaling €265 billion in 2018, while the EU’s total foreign direct investment in Africa stood at €261 billion in 2017. Official development assistance from Europe to Africa amounts to €239 billion.