India and Ethiopia have had trade relations for at least 2000 years which flourished under the ancient Axumite empire with the trading of silk and spices from India and gold and ivory from Ethiopia. These ancient ties have contributed to a special aﬃnity between the two countries and both share a strong trade and investment relationship along with a mutually beneficial developmental partnership in capacity building and the education sector, which are key components of the relationship.
After the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1950, both countries have cemented their interaction through economic and developmental partnerships. India-Ethiopia collaboration takes place under the bilateral framework as well as under the aegis of the India-Africa Forum Summits (IAFS). An Institutional framework, the Joint Commission, has been put in place spanning all areas of cooperation to monitor the various agreements and MOUs that have been signed to give direction and focus to further strengthen and enhance bilateral ties. Regular high-level visits from both countries over the years have reinforced the strategic importance of ties between India and Ethiopia, an important country in the Horn of Africa.
Skills development and education are important areas of cooperation and a number of initiatives are being pursued. An Education Exchange Programme was signed in 2007 and an MOU was signed between the Foreign Service Institute of India and the Foreign Service Training Institute of Ethiopia in May 2018. An interesting development during the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie (1941-1974) was that tens of thousands of Indian teachers went to Ethiopia to teach in schools all over Ethiopia and they have left a lasting mark on the general population contributing to a special people to people connect. The number of teachers fell drastically after the Communist Deng regime came to power but have gone up somewhat in recent years including in higher education. It is estimated that there were around 2000-2500 Indian academics in Universities and Higher education institutions in Ethiopia.
The Indian Technical and Education Cooperation (ITEC) programme, started in 1969 in Ethiopia has provided training to both civilian and defence professionals at diﬀerent Centres of Excellence in India in the areas of defence, agriculture, information technology, telecommunications, management, rural development, accounts, audit, banking, finance, health, environment and renewable energy. More than 2732 scholarships oﬀered under ITEC programe have been utilised for training and capacity building. About 502 scholarships have been utilised by Ethiopian students under the Indian Council for Cultural Cooperation( ICCR). Scholarships under the India Africa Forum Summit(IAFS) programmes for higher studies as also under the CV Raman International Fellowship programme for research in Indian Universities have been availed of by Ethiopian scholars.
Experts from India have been regularly deputed or seconded to Ethiopian government departments to provide consultancy services and training. Further, signing of Twinning arrangements between the Ethiopian and Indian Leather Institutes and Footwear Design Institutes, Ethiopian and Indian Textile Institutes and between Indian Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Ethiopian Metal Industries Development Institute (MIDI) have been important contributors to capacity building and innovation in these sectors. The Pan African e-network set up in 2007 in Ethiopia has been successfully utilised, with the Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa serving as the Centre for telemedicine consultations and the tele education Centre in Addis Ababa University providing e-education facilities for students in six diﬀerent programmes. All these have contributed to the socio-economic development in Ethiopia and been mutually beneficial.
India has extended various Lines of Credit (LOC) worth around US$ 1 billion for development projects in infrastructure, railways, agriculture, the sugar sector, energy transmission projects, power generation and supply, etc. which have been successfully implemented by and large through some projects have got delayed. Ethiopia was one of the first countries to join the International Solar Alliance(ISA) of which India is a founding member along with France. Solar energy is the future and India and Ethiopia need to work together to utilise solar power to the maximum.
India has been a strong proponent of South-South Cooperation and been sharing its developmental experience with other developing countries as part of its approach of Vasudhev Kutumbkam or the world is one family. In general, India’s frugal innovations and similar developmental experience have generally made it the preferred partner in Ethiopia though in recent years China’s development partnership with Ethiopia has been increasing. It is thus imperative for India to streamline processes and ensure time-bound implementation of diﬀerent projects and programmes under the development partnership for a win-win outcome for both India and Ethiopia.