Since joining China’s modern age re-structuring of the Silk Roads; The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Ethiopia has reaped benefits through developments orchestrated by Chinese companies. The BRI serves as China’s ongoing attempt to create global trade routes by land and sea, which all member states can utilise to increase economic development with other countries. Ethiopia’s’ continued involvement working closely with the Chinese government as diplomatic relations will be reaching 50 years in 2020.
In the past, Ethiopia failed to utilise natural resources such as bamboo. China has offered a lending hand to Ethiopia through two Chinese companies. Both nations concluded a deal to invest $2 billion into the bamboo industry to produce paper products for exportation and domestic use, while simultaneously creating jobs for Ethiopians.
China’s government has carried out several construction projects in Ethiopia, including the Chinese built and funded 756km Ethiopia-Djibouti railway connecting both African nations for trade as well as offering land-locked Ethiopia access to one of the most commonly used ports in the world. Ethiopia has recently experienced an 89% growth in its supply of apparel to the global market, which it credits to Chinese intervention.
Looking forward, Ethiopia has many goals for the future, which will involve China. Ethiopia expects many development opportunities in the future, including a plan for 30 industrial parks which will provide more job opportunities for locals. The Hawassa Industrial Park (HIP) is an example of the success of these projects. The HIP has created an estimated 60 000 jobs and 150 000 indirect jobs while housing 18 companies from 11 countries.
At the first Belt and Road Forum for international cooperation in 2017, Ethiopia was one of only two African countries with high-level delegation representation, and Ethiopia’s importance to China has been unwavering. Since then these two nations met again at 2019’s Belt and Road Forum where several agreements were signed, including a $1.8 billion deal between Ethiopia and the State Grid Corporation of China.
The latter will provide electric transmission and distribution equipment. Furthermore, China will write off debt for all interest-free loans to Ethiopia up to and including those incurred in 2018. In return, China has requested for Ethiopia to embrace a zero-tolerance policy on corruption and continue with clean governance when dealing with BRI.
Interviewed by the China Global Television Network (CGTN), Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, stated one of the reasons for the cooperation between Ethiopia and China lies in their strategic and historical relationship, a relationship fit for economic exchange. Ahmed also hopes the work with China will inspire young Africans to be “a model for global youth movements, not only in politics but also in trade, innovation, and intercommunication among African countries.”