Ethiopia will send 50,000 people to work in the United Arab Emirates, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced Monday, as the Gulf country looks to expand its influence in the Horn of Africa.
“Ethiopia is planning short-term measures to reduce unemployment in Ethiopia and to cope with the increasing job demands of our people,” Abiy told parliament in the capital Addis Ababa.
“One of these short-term programmes is sending our skilled labour to foreign countries,” said Abiy, who has sought to open his country to foreign investment since assuming office last year.
He said that under the deal 50,000 workers would be sent to UAE in the 2019/2020 fiscal year, and discussions were being held to send 200,000 over the next three years.
The workers would receive training in various sectors, including driving and nursing, earn higher wages and “boost their capacity”, Abiy said.
Discussions are underway about similar agreements with Japan as well as European nations, Abiy said.
He added that Africa’s fastest-growing economy would be aided by a young skilled workforce that was trained abroad.
The UAE has recently pressed for closer ties with countries in the Horn of Africa, helping to mediate along with Saudi Arabia a historic peace accord between former enemies Ethiopia and Eritrea last year.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia are hoping to broker peace in the region, in a sign of the growing importance the Gulf nations put on eastern Africa as they battle Iran-backed Huthi rebels in Yemen.
Last year, the UAE pledged to invest $3 billion in aid and investment in Ethiopia.