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Ethiopia, Cuba Need to Enhance Cooperation to Address Common Challenges, Says Amb. Nicolás

Addis Ababa, June 16, 2024 (FBC) – The outgoing Cuban Ambassador to Ethiopia, Jorge Lefebre Nicolás, has underscored the need for deeper cooperation between the two nations to tackle their shared obstacles and aspirations.

In a wide-ranging interview he had with ENA, the ambassador reflected on the unbreakable bond forged between Cuba and Ethiopia when Cuban soldiers fought alongside Ethiopian forces to preserve the country’s territorial integrity against foreign occupation nearly half a century ago.

This friendship, cemented in blood with 163 Cuban lives lost on Ethiopian soil, has blossomed into a multifaceted partnership over the decades, he said.

As Ethiopia and Cuba prepare to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their diplomatic relations in 2025, Ambassador Nicolás emphasized the importance of leveraging this relationship to confront modern-day challenges.

Key areas identified for potential collaboration include agriculture, healthcare, education, water resource management, and  biotechnology.

He stated that agriculture represents a promising avenue, with Cuba offering its four centuries of expertise in the sugar industry to bolster Ethiopia’s burgeoning sugar production.

Reciprocally, Ethiopia as a major coffee producer could assist Cuba in increasing its coffee yields and varieties.

In healthcare, the focus in Ethiopia has evolved from addressing physician shortages to enhancing specialization.

In this regard, Cuban experts can train Ethiopian medical professionals in niche fields, while the two nations explore joint bio-pharmaceutical research and development, building on Cuba’s success in developing its own COVID-19 vaccines.

Ambassador Nicolás also highlighted Cuba’s island experience in water transfer systems as valuable for improving agricultural productivity in Ethiopia, a water-rich nation.

Recalling, educational and cultural exchanges, which have seen over 5,000 Ethiopians study in Cuba historically, he  called for strong South-South cooperation through multilateral blocs like BRICS, of which Ethiopia is the newest member, and the G77.

With mutual understanding, the ambassador noted that as Ethiopia and Cuba overcome external pressures and internal obstacles, the half-century bond between the countries could forge an exemplary model of South-South partnership for a more equitable global landscape.

According to him, developing economies can rebalance trade negotiations and financial institutions currently dominated by wealthy Northern nations, if united.

Ambassador Nicolás expressed optimism that the deep people-to-people connections, rooted in Cuba’s indelible African heritage, will buoy relations.

While embracing their Latin American identity, Cubans see themselves as an “African country away from the continent” with the island’s cultural fabric stitched in African traditions, he elaborated.

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