The Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar made an official three-day visit to Ethiopia this week looking to expand the partnership beyond foreign aid, and met with the political leadership of the nation, including Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President SahleworkZewde announcing a new partnership in Lalibela UNESCO Heritage site and visited a refugee camp in Tigray region.
The new partnership is to be “a series of exchanges and experience sharing between Irish and Ethiopian institutions, forced on cultural heritage tourism and rural job creating through tourism.” The 39-year oldextended an invite to Ethiopia’s Tourism Minister,HirutKassaw,to visit his nation for a working tour and meet an array of tourism and cultural heritage institutions.
“HirutKassaw (PhD) will visit Ireland this spring to meet with relevant tourism and cultural heritage bodies in Ireland, including Falite Ireland and OPW, and finalize a program of experience sharing between Ireland and Ethiopia,” the Prime Minister announced.
“I am also very pleased to announce that Lalibela will join the 2019 ‘Global Greening’ along with hundreds of other iconic monuments and cultural heritage sites across the world, will go green on St. Patrick’s Day 2019, to mark the deep friendship between the Ethiopian and Irish people and 25 years of diplomatic relations.”
The two nations have had a long relationship based on aid. Irish missionaries from the Catholic Church and noted celebrities, such as Bono and Bob Geldof have long since advocated and championed poverty reduction initiatives and international debt forgiveness for Ethiopia.
However, the cultural relation between the two seems minimal with a lone Irish Pub in the capital, which sells Dutch Heineken beer. However, Oscar nominated actress, Ruth Nega, an Ethiopian born Irish citizen, remains one of the most famous Irish actress in the world. Like its European counterparts, Ireland has been on a lookout to help Ethiopia and other African nations build a strategy to create jobs at home as a determent to decrease the flow of African migrants to its shore.
“I look forward to my visit to Ireland and to (be) leading this new partnership on cultural heritage tourism. Tourism and culture have huge potentials to drive economic growth and jobs in Ethiopia, particularly in rural areas,” said HirutKassaw.