Although he welcomes Japan’s commitment to Africa and its substantial official development assistance, the new Ethiopian ambassador emphasizes that Japanese investment, even just a little, in his country would make a big difference to its already good relations.
During his visit Tuesday to The Japan Times, Dr. Koang Tutlam Dung praised the Japanese government’s Africa Agenda policy and its promotion for many years of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, as well as for ODA. Ethiopia is the third-largest recipient of Japanese ODA in sub-Saharan Africa.
As another example of Japan’s initiative to help development in Africa and elsewhere, he noted that Japan is hosting an international water forum next year to address the growing worldwide water problem.
Dung, who took the post in April, said he is trying to promote Japanese recognition and understanding of Ethiopia as an attractive destination for Japanese tourists, using the popularity of mocha-brand coffee, Ethiopia’s main export to Japan. “Coffee is popular, and the mocha brand is very popular in Japan, but not many Japanese know mocha coffee comes from Ethiopia.”
Currently, Ethiopia exports $50 million to $60 million worth of products a year to Japan and imports $60 million to $70 million, mainly machinery, from Japan. Despite the relatively well-balanced trade, he said, there is no substantial Japanese investment in Ethiopia.
Two years ago, some 700 Japanese tourists visited Ethiopia and the number has been rapidly increasing, to 2,000 most recently, he said.
Dung started out as a doctor at a hospital in his home town of Gambella, eastern Ethiopia. At 35, he became a counselor to the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry and then served as ambassador to Ghana, where he edited a quarterly magazine, from 1999 to January this year. In addition, while he was a hospital chief in Gambella, he founded a political party.
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