President Emmanuel Macron is set to pay an official visit to Ethiopia where he is expected to announce funds pledged earlier to be availed for the restoration and preservation of the Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela.
Following Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s tour to Europe in October,where he met President Emmanuel Macron, the two have agreed on three major declarations;one of those was that of France’s willingness to provide a financial support for the preservation churches of Lalibela.
Upon his visit to Ethiopia on March 12, 2019 (has changed several times and is still tentative) President Macronis expected to announce more pledges. Nebyat Getachew, spokesperson with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), told The Reporter that the possibilities of announcing the amount is there, since President Macron has already agreed his country would provide the required resources to restore and preserve Lalibela, one of a UNESCO registered world heritage sites. However, the spokesperson has insisted that it is too early to have all the required details about the visit of President Macron.
In addition to pledging funds, when receiving PM Abiy in Paris, Macron hinted that he will contemplatea fiscal support to Ethiopia supplementing standing mutual initiatives.Reports had emerged suggesting there are plans for France to partake in urban development and in the Ethiopian Air transport sector development strategy.
While Macron’s visit is on top of the agenda, according to a report in Les Echos, a French business daily,reported that a French bank named Bred BanquePopulaire – part of the second-largest banking group in France – “is planning to initiate commercial operations in Ethiopia, marking the first foray for a European bank in the country”. However, it is very unlikely that the bank is allowed to operate commercially as the law of the land bars foreign financial institutions from doing so.
Bred has been present since 2000 in New Caledonia, has developed successively in Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos), the Pacific (Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands) and in the Horn of Africa (Djibouti).
Attempts to include views of the Embassy of France in Addis Ababa were unsuccessful.