Ethiopia seeks more Indian teachers, agriculturists

"Second Africa - India Summit"
The Second Africa - India Fourum Summit Shared Partnership: Shared Vision , Addis Ababa, 20-25 May 2011.

Addis Ababa, May 23 (IANS) Ethiopia, one of Africa’s emerging economies, is seeking more teachers and agriculturists from India to help it leapfrog into a knowledge economy and food-sufficient nation.

Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister Hailemariam Desalegn conveyed the east African nation’s request to Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna as the two met Sunday evening to discuss the Second Africa-India summit being held here May 24-25, the first such summit on African soil after the first one in India in 2008.

Stating that Indian teachers in schools and universities of Ethiopia were held in very high regard, Desalegn said India was seen as a ‘centre of learning’ and getting more Indian teachers here would help in capacity building and knowledge empowerment of Ethiopian youth and contribute to faster nation-building that is being sought by the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

There are presently 500 Indian teachers in 22 national universities of Ethiopia, with over 40 teaching in Addis Ababa University (AAU).

K. Mathews, who teaches political science and international relations at AAU, told IANS he found ‘Ethiopian students mature, receptive with a natural inclination to learn more in order to contribute to the nation’s development’.

Mathews said there was increasing realisation in Ethiopia about the role of education in the nation’s growth, despite its poverty and lack of resources. He said emperor Haile Selassie had brought Indian teachers from Kerala to his country way back in the 1960s and since then Indians, who number about 6,000, have been coming here steadily for teaching and now business.

The Ethiopian deputy prime minister also sought more investment in niche agriculture and said the government had earmarked three million hectares of land that could be leased out to Indian agriculturists.

Karuturi Limited is one of the success stories of Indian agricultural investment in Ethiopia. The Bangalore-based company not only does export-oriented rose farming in Ethiopia but has now been given over 1,000 hectares for maize cultivation – a move that the company’s officials say has the potential to ‘feed the whole of Africa’ once production peaks.

Desalegn said many African countries were keen to have similar projects that could resolve the food security of the vast continent.

India’s investment in Ethiopia is currently $4.5 billion, a nine-time increase from just $500 million five years ago. It is a reflection of the growing India business interest in the continent where Indian investment is targeted to reach $70 billion by 2015.

(Tarun Basu can be contacted at tarun.basu@ians.in)

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