June 2/2022/ENA France will continue supporting the ongoing economic reforms and other development priorities of Ethiopia in the years to come, French Development Agency (AFD) Africa Director Christian Yoka said.
In an exclusive interview with ENA, the director said France has been a long-term partner of Ethiopia, which is celebrating 125 years of relationship between the two countries.
As far as AFD is concerned, it has been active here for almost 25 years, he added.
“First of all, we are talking about the long-lasting relationship. We have to salute that because when the relationship is so long, it means that the two partners are seeing satisfaction and mutual benefit in this relationship, which is excellent.”
According to Yoka, the agency at the beginning focused on very few sectors, especially in the infrastructure sectors ― urban development, water and energy.
But recently the portfolio has been completely diversified, the director pointed out.
One of the areas of engagement of AFD is financing heritages. “We are (especially) working on the restoration and preservation of Lalibella Church; and we are working on the renovation of the National Palace which is a very exciting project because this is a landmark infrastructure for Ethiopia.”
Engaging in heritage restoration and renovation is unique, Yoka noted, adding his “hope that other partners will come and join forces to this subject where we do have a knowhow, but we think that it would be really beneficial for Ethiopia in different level.”
The director further revealed that AFD will also move towards government programs.
“We are supporting the economic reform being implemented by the government. We are involved in that respect and civil society as a whole as well as in large aspects of sectors.”
Regarding to the next major priorities, Yoka said “we had discussion with (officials from Ministry of Finance) on priorities as they are seen by the government of Ethiopia.”
Stating that one of the main concerns of the Government of Ethiopia is job creation, he stressed that the economic reform by the government is essential to realize such ambition.
For Yoka, Ethiopia is experiencing dynamic urbanization process. So, making sure that cities are experiencing balanced development is key and it is another area that is considered as a priority for the government.
“We will work in different sectors in the coming years. Agriculture and food security, bio-diversity, supporting urban development sectors are among the priorities,” the director said.
He further stated that France is proud to be involved into the development of Ethiopia. “Our portfolio now amounts to around 800 million Euros that has been committed in Ethiopia. We are very proud and very happy to be involved into the development of this country.”
It is to be recalled that the leaders of the two countries paid official visits to France and France in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
The visits have considerably strengthened the bilateral relationships and three key fields of cooperation for the coming years: economic, military, and cultural cooperation, were identified.