CATHERINE W GICHUKI
The Emir HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani's visit to African countries ” Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa ” from Monday will take Qatar-Africa relations to new heights. The Emir will hold meetings with leaders and high-ranking officials of these countries with the focus on enhancing bilateral relations. This would be the first time that the Emir will be visiting sub-Saharan Africa, besides Sudan.
Envoys and officials representing these countries have welcomed the Emir's visit, saying it was a great honour.
Speaking to Qatar Tribune, Ethiopian Embassy Minister Counsellor of Political and Economic Affairs Abdu Yassin Gebro said the Emir's African tour, which begins from Ethiopia's Addis Ababa, will further strengthen relations between Ethiopia and Qatar.
He said Ethiopia recognises and appreciates the prominent role played by Qatar to bring stability at regional and international levels, he said.
In this context, he referred to Qatar's efforts for peace in Darfur (Sudan) and Somalia, and resolution of Djibouti-Eritrea conflict as well as its development and humanitarian assistance.
Gebro said during the visit, the Emir is expected to meet Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, the Ethiopian president and other high officials where they will discuss political and security issues of regional and international significance, besides economic issues.
He said the Emir starting his visit from Addis Ababa is a strategic move and shows the level of importance that the leadership of Qatar attaches to Ethiopia.
African Union (AU) and Qatar cooperate in political, security, economic, social sectors and in fighting terrorism, he added.
"We African diplomats attach great importance to our relations with Qatar and we are confident that the series of discussions and interactions will provide opportunities to take stock of and identify ways to further strengthen our relations in all fields for mutual benefit," he said.
He said eight agreements and five MoUS have been signed between Qatar and Ethiopia so far. During the Emir's visit, another agreement on visa waiver for holders of diplomatic and service/special passports will be signed.
Kenyan Ambassador to Qatar HE Galma Mukhe Boru said the government and people of Kenya were looking forward to welcoming the Emir. He said the visit will strengthen Kenya-Qatar relations, reiterating that it will offer an opportunity to review instruments of cooperation between the two countries."Besides, new MoUs could be signed especially in the field of culture, education, higher education and scientific research," said Boru.
During the Emir' visit to South Africa, a number of agreements are expected to be signed.
The agreements, which are likely to be signed, include waiving off visas for diplomats and government officials between the two countries and cooperation in the health sector.
Another agreement that will elevate the bilateral consultation from deputy minister to minister level will also be signed.
Meanwhile, Qatar's Ambassador to Ethiopia HE Abdulaziz bin Sultan al Rumaihi told Qatar News Agency that HH the Emir will discuss with the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and President Mulatu Teshome the relationship between the two countries and means of bolstering cooperation in all economic, political, investment, social and cultural areas, as well as the regional and international issues of mutual concern.
Ethiopian Ambassador to Qatar HE Mesganu Arga Moach said that HH the Emir's Africa tour will provide an opportunity to consolidate ties and coordinate between the two leaderships on regional and international issues of mutual interest including security, peace and countering terrorism.