What can Ethiopia contribute in the BRICS membership?

At the 15th BRICS Summit held in South Africa, in 2023, one of the major decisions was to include additional countries as permanent members of the group. Based on her official application to become a member, Ethiopia joined the group on 1st January 2024. There is no doubt that Ethiopia will get many benefits from being a member of BRICS. The purpose of this piece is to identify the possible contribution of Ethiopia to the other BRICS Plus member countries.

Market for Member Countries

The population of Ethiopia is estimated to be more than one hundred and twenty million. The population is growing at an annual rate of 2.6 %. This puts Ethiopia in the second place in Africa. Population means a big market for the products of other countries to sell their goods and services. Thus, products from BRICS Plus members can find a market in Ethiopia and improve their trade ties. The majority of the people of Ethiopia are young. More youth population means a greater human capital that can provide enough labor force for member countries’ projects and investments in Ethiopia.

Gateway to African countries

Addis Ababa is the headquarters of the African Union and the headquarters of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. In addition, more than one hundred countries have opened their embassies in Addis Ababa. There are also many international organizations working in Ethiopia. This makes Ethiopia the third-largest diplomatic center in the world. Since the African Union is also a member of the G21, it can be assumed that when the Union organizes the group’s summit, it will be in Addis Ababa. This is a good opportunity to BRICS Plus countries to expand their trade and investment in Ethiopia and Africa at large. Working with Africa means getting access to the markets of the world’s second-largest continent. Therefore, Ethiopia can be a bridge and gateway in connecting the members of the BRICS Plus group with the rest of the African countries.

Strategic geographical location

Ethiopia’s geographical position is close to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Its proximity to the Middle East and the Indian Ocean put Ethiopia in a very important strategic position for the BRICS members. Being the most populous and influential country in East Africa, its security and safety role may be important for international trade relations in the Indian Ocean. It is well known that Ethiopia’s role in countering the evil activities of Al-Shabaab and other organized forces from Somalia is significant. Moreover, Ethiopia is working to have a navy that can contribute to the peace and security of the region. This will help BRICS Plus member countries to conduct their international trade without considerable problems and disruptions.

Investment destination

Investors choose the most suitable countries for their investments. Ethiopia has vast land for investors, profound investment law, many industrial parks, inexpensive human resources, raw materials, and so on. According to the law of Ethiopia, the main objective of investment in Ethiopia is “to improve the living standard of the peoples of Ethiopia by realizing a rapid, inclusive and sustainable economic and social development”. There are a lot of incentives for investors in Ethiopia. So BRICS Plus countries can invest and benefit from these advantages. Of course, there is a need to improve the peace and security issues of the country to attract more investors to Ethiopia.

Tourist destination

As a country with more than three thousand years of history, Ethiopia is the owner of ancient tangible and intangible heritages that can be visited. The U.N.E.S.C.O has also registered many tangible heritages of Ethiopia as World heritage sites including Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela, Semien National Park, Fasil Castle, Aksum Obelisks, and Lower Valley of the Awash, Lower Valley of the Omo, Tiya, Harar Jegol, Konso Cultural Landscape, Bale Mountains National Park, and the Gedeo Cultural Landscape. Ethiopia is also the origin of mankind. Therefore, people from BRICS Plus member countries will get the opportunity to visit Ethiopia as tourists and visit the ancient heritages of the country.

In addition to sightseeing, tourists have the opportunity to stay in a country with a favorable climate. During the cold and snowy months, tourists of BRICS Plus can visit Ethiopia and enjoy the weather. On the contrary, BRICS members who live in a desert country, especially from Arab countries, can come to Ethiopia and stay in the favorable climate.

Role of Ethiopian Airlines in connecting with Africa

The Ethiopian Airlines is one of the best airlines in Africa. It is also called the Pan-African Airlines. It has worked for the last 77 years with success. It is flying to more than 130 destinations of which 63 destinations are African cities. Its motto is “The New Spirit of Africa”. Therefore, the role of the Airlines in connecting BRICS Plus countries with Ethiopia and the rest of the African countries is very significant. At the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ethiopian Airlines was distributing medical kits to almost all African countries. Travelers flying from African countries to BRICS Plus countries will mainly use Ethiopian Airlines. In addition to the current flight route, the airlines can also carry out the task of adding sufficient flight routes to all BRICS Plus countries.

Energy hub to the region

One of the most important agendas of the BRICS member countries is global warming. Renewable energy is one of the proposed solution to this critical problem. Ethiopia has enough resources to generate hydroelectric, solar, wind, and geothermal energy. In particular, the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam will contribute to reducing the energy shortage in the Horn of Africa by providing electricity to the neighboring countries. So far, Ethiopia is supplying electricity to Djibouti, Sudan, and Kenya and is working to reach other African countries. A major role of this grand project is the presence of many rivers in Ethiopia that can generate electricity, the presence of sufficient solar power generation potential, and the presence of natural resources capable of generating geothermal and wind energy.

Source of raw materials

There are various minerals and other natural resources in Ethiopia. BRICS Plus countries can get raw materials for their industries from Ethiopia. For example, Ethiopia is ranked first in Africa and fifth globally in terms of livestock population. This means that it will be able to supply meat, leather, milk, and milk products to member countries. Similarly, the availability of vast land and various climatic zones contributes to the growing of coffee and cereal products on a large scale. This indicates the presence of capacity to increase production and meet the needs of group members.

Playing Role of Peace in the Region

Ethiopia is a country that takes international responsibility by contributing many troops to the United Nations peacekeeping operations. Similarly, the government has sent peacekeeping troops to various African countries under the auspices of the African Union. Moreover, Ethiopia has played a mediating role to solve the political and security problems of South Sudan and the Sudan. This shows that Ethiopia has the potential to support the BRICS Plus countries in finding solutions to the crisis in Africa.

Ethiopia as shock absorber for migration crisis in the region

The Horn of Africa is one of the most conflict-ridden areas in the world. Therefore, immigrants from different countries come to Ethiopia. Currently, there are about one million refugees in Ethiopia. The refugees mostly come from Somalia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan, and Central African countries. Hosting and handling refugees in this big number shows that Ethiopia has contributed to preventing the greatest humanitarian crisis that could happen in the region. Therefore, the role of Ethiopia in stabilizing the region for the activities and projects of BRICS Plus countries in Africa is considerable.

Mitigating the impact of climate change

Naturally, Ethiopia has a variety of landscapes. Ras Dashen is the highest point at 4,550m above sea level, and Danakil Depression is the lowest point at 125m below sea level. In recent times, Ethiopia has been planting a large number of trees and other vegetable seedlings. Although this benefit is mainly for Ethiopia, if we consider it at a higher level, it will be part of a moderate solution to the climate change problems of the world. If this afforestation activity is carried out continuously for several years, it will help in mitigating the impacts of climate change in the region. As scholars mentioned afforestation is “a cost‐effective and readily available climate change mitigation option”.

In conclusion, BRICS Plus member countries have a lot of resources that can be used to enhance holistic development and achieve the objectives and goal of the group. For this success there is a need to use the comparative and competitive advantages of member countries to the benefit of the whole group. Ethiopia has a lot of resources and advantages that can be used by the member states.

(Melaku Mulualem K is a Researcher in International Relations and Diplomacy,Institute of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia)


Editor’s Note: The views entertained in this article do not necessarily reflect the stance of The Ethiopian Herald



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