Tribune News Service
New Delhi, March 23
Ethiopia is India’s gateway to Africa and Ethiopia wants India, more than China, to come and participate in its development. This sentiment was expressed today by Negeri Lencho, Ethiopia’s minister of government communications affairs, in an interview to The Tribune.
Lencho expressed great satisfaction at the current status of India-Ethiopia relationship but also emphasised that more Indian investors need to come to Ethiopia despite the fact that India is already one of the top three investors there.
“India is in every Ethiopian’s heart,” he said. “I envy when others take advantage, I wish India, and I have discussed this with Indian authorities today, that India has to penetrate Ethiopia and reach out to Africa,” he said.
The minister earlier in the day met Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh with whom he discussed this. “I want India to be second to no one,” he said.
“It is a matter of grabbing the opportunity faster,” he said in reference to China. The Chinese, he explained, come with money and ready projects. He also added that instead of lamenting about the past, “we need to stretch our hands into the future and that there are many Indian products I want to see in Ethiopia and many Ethiopian products we can export to India”.
Defence, he said, is another area where both countries are increasing their cooperation. There are students who come from Ethiopia to study in the Indian Defence College and get trained here. “Ethiopia wants to develop its own arms, not only export arms. We want to make our own fighter jets and India is good at that. Military technology is another aspect where we want to co-operate with India,” he said.
The minister, who studied in India and then went back to his country, recalled his student years in India with great affection. He pointed out that he is the perfect example of someone who studied in India, then went back and trained students back home who have further trained students in Ethiopia. “There are leaders like me who have become ministers or university leaders but their foundation was in India,” he said.
When asked about the racial attacks against African students in India, he expressed his surprise. “I find them baseless. I remember my life as a student here and I can’t remember anything like that ever happening,” he said.
He said “we have to investigate and find out the reason for the attacks”.
“Africans come here because India is great and want to share that experience,” making the observation that when they go back African students act as India’s ambassadors in the world.