Justice Minister Gedion Timothewos (L) and South Africa's foreign Minister Naledi Pandor (R) signed an extradition agreement between the two countries on Monday.

Ethiopia, South Africa Eye Deep Ties on Bilateral, Regional Issues

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia and South Africa plan to step up their relations and cooperation on continental issues after the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) meeting in Addis Ababa.

“We have agreed that the nature of our relationship, while it is extremely positive and very friendly, we want to lift it to greater heights of refined collaboration,” South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor told the reporters on Monday.

At the JMC session, Pandor also said sectors in the digital economy could also serve as new opportunities for partnership, stating that:

“Together, we need to exploit new opportunities presented by the post-Covid-19 economy in sectors such as the digital economy and technological innovations, artificial intelligence, the fourth industrial revolution, the provision of digital services, localization of manufacturing of value-added goods and services.”

Established in 2008, the Ethiopia-South Africa Joint Ministerial Commission oversees the implementation of numerous bilateral agreements and MoUs across various sectors, including trade and investment, science and innovation, health, education, and tourism.

The high-level session on Monday reviewed the two countries’ current relations, per Ethiopian Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonne.

“On the basis of the review, the implementation of cooperation agreements was found to be satisfactory,” Demeke said, as well as making “more efforts for best outcomes”.

The two countries’ top diplomats co-chaired the fourth session of the JMC, which created an overarching framework for cooperation and partnership.

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Pandor said the work of the JMC and the agreements “that drive our cooperation, we can achieve this lofty ambition.”

“As African countries,” Pandor said, “we wish to work more closely together to advance the goals that we have set ourselves in the premier policy instruments of the African continent, particularly Agenda 2063.”

One of the key flagship projects of Agenda 2063 that the JMC discussions focused on was the African Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

“I believe that AfCFTA will be a catalyst for the pursuit of beneficial economic integration in the continent. Through the free trade area agreement, we have promised to ourselves, as Africans, that we will increase intra-African trade.”

This push, however, has to be anchored on “the creation of greater trade within Africa, with African products among African countries,” Pandor further explained.

In Addis Ababa, South African FM Pandor also met with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Their discussion was centered on further enhancing diplomatic ties, augmenting economic and trade relations, and collaborating on science and tech education as well as on common regional and global development issues, per the PM Office.

Ethiopia and South Africa formally established their diplomatic ties in 1994. Their relations, however, date back to the days of the Anti-Apartheid movement and the history of Nelson Mandela, who visited Ethiopia first as a young freedom fighter.

The young South African, who was identified as David Motsamayi on his Ethiopian passport, received military training at the Kolfe Military Centre in 1962. He was arrested shortly after he left Ethiopia for South Africa and served 27 years in prison.

Mandela, who also visited Ethiopia five months after his release, became his country’s first black and democratically elected president in 1949 – the same year the two countries formally established diplomatic relations.

On Monday, FM Pandor visited the Kolfe Military Centre and proposed a Nelson Mandela Museum in Addis Ababa, according to South Africa’s Department of International Relations.