His Excellency Dr Abraham Belay Berhe, Minister of Innovation and Technology in Ethiopia;

His Excellency Ambassador Shiferaw Teklemariam Menbacho, Ambassador of Ethiopia in South Africa;

His Excellency Ambassador Edward Xolisa Makaya, Ambassador of South Africa in Ethiopia;

Ladies and Gentlemen:

 

I am honoured and delighted to be part of this historic occasion, which marks the signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on scientific and technological cooperation between South Africa and Ethiopia.

 

Ethiopia is an historic and much valued partner of democratic South Africa. Ethiopia contributed immensely to South Africa's liberation and the fight against apartheid.

 

Ethiopia has of course also led over many decades the agenda for pan-African unity as host of first the Organisation for African Unity and today as proud host of our African Union.  

 

The signing of the MoU is an important milestone for the strengthening of cooperation between our two countries, as we jointly seek to harness science, technology and innovation as instruments for socio-economic and sustainable development.

 

As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, international cooperation in science and innovation, especially between African partners, is more critically needed than ever.

 

We, for example, need enhanced intra-African innovation cooperation to leverage the opportunities of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

 

I would thus like to express my sincere appreciation to Minister Belay Berhe and our partners in the Ministry of Innovation and Technology for their commitment to our cooperation.

 

The signing of the MoU also comes at a strategic time from a national South African policy perspective.

 

Our Department of Science and Innovation is currently finalising a new Decadal Plan for science and innovation in South Africa at the direction of our Cabinet.  

 

I am convinced that the priorities of our Decadal Plan will provide an excellent foundation for our two countries to work together as we seek to put science and innovation to work.

 

This includes enhancing the competitiveness of our respective economies and leveraging new African growth opportunities. For example, related to the exploitation of disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence.

 

This MoU will allow our two countries to share experiences, expertise and resources, so crucial for the advancement of the scientific enterprise and innovation.

 

As investment in people is paramount, we will jointly invest through training and mobility programmes in the development of research and innovation skills in our countries.

 

We will implement joint research and innovation programmes, and support South African and Ethiopian to bring new technology products and services to market through joint ventures.

 

South Africa is indeed proud and privileged to be partnering with Ethiopia and we look forward to fostering relations with renowned Ethiopian scientific organisations such as –

  • the Ethiopian Radiation Protection Authority;
  • the Ethiopian Biotechnology Institute;
  • the Technology and Innovation Institute;
  • the Ethiopian Geospatial Information Institute; and
  • the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute.

 

As much as the signing of the MoU is an important milestone, it is imperative that we now spare no effort to progress with implementation.

 

I am sure that Minister Belay Berhe will join me in this encouragement and indeed instruction to our officials that no effort should be spared in investing to advance our cooperation.

 

In conclusion, I am delighted that the Ethiopian Ambassador in South Africa and the South African Ambassador in Ethiopia have joined us today to witness our commitment to science diplomacy also as an instrument for closer political, economic and social links between our countries.

 

South Africa and Ethiopia have always stood together in a commitment to global solidarity, multilateralism and African unity.

 

We reinforced that commitment today.

 

Thank you very much, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.