Barack Obama arrived Addis Ababa and met the Ethiopian prime minister on Monday on the first visit by a serving U.S. president .
The U.S president will hold talks with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn during his visit. The talks are expected to focus on economic ties and security in the region with the threat posed by the dreaded Islamist militant group al Shabaab in Somalia.
Ethiopia’s ruling party, which has recently turned the economic fortunes of the country for the better, has often been criticized for it’s poor human right record, The opposition which failed to secure a single seat in a May parliamentary election, argue that the economic achievements recorded has been at the expense of political freedoms.
Obama during his visit to Kenya, emphasized the need for Kenyan government to deepen democracy, tackle corruption and end politics of exclusion based on gender or ethnicity. He also promised Kenya more security assistance.
According to a White House statement released today, the U.S government restated it’s commitment to helping African countries with security challenges;
“We are strongly committed to partnering with African countries to increase their capacity to address the immediate threats posed by terrorist organisations,”
Ethiopia contributes troops to an African Union peace keeping force battling al Shabaab in Somalia. The group has often launched attacks in Kenya, but diplomats say Ethiopia’s state security apparatus has spared it similar assaults.
Obama will also speak with regional leaders about the conflict in South Sudan later today. It is likely that sanctions will be imposed if the Warring factions fail to honor peace initiatives that will end the fighting.
The U.S president will also leverage his popularity among Africans who see him as one of their own, to expand U.S business interests in the continent where China currently enjoy the status of Africa’s biggest trade partner since 2009.
“Africa is on the move. Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world,” Obama told African entrepreneurs conference in Nairobi on Saturday.
Ethiopia has been widely praised for it’s economic resurgence that has seen economic growth rise to double digits. The drive has recorded appreciable success in developmental efforts and rural healthcare.
Although this drive has been driven mainly by state owned investments, which economists say is squeezing out private business. Ethiopia remains one of the world’s biggest recipients of international aid and is still among Africa’s poorest nations per capita.
Ethiopia largely rely on China for it’s infrastructural development projects. Majority of the new roads, railways, dams were built by Chinese firms.
Credits; (The Whistler, Reuters)