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Minister Coveney visits the Horn of Africa

Health, Hunger, Environmental/Climate Change, News/feature, Horn of Africa, 2017
Minister Coveney and DFAT officials meeting with IGAD Special Envoy Ismail Wais and Ambassador Tewolde, IGAD Director of Peace and Security Division. Credit: DFAT

Minister Coveney and DFAT officials meeting with IGAD Special Envoy Ismail Wais and Ambassador Tewolde, IGAD Director of Peace and Security Division. Credit: DFAT

This week Minister Coveney will visit the Horn of Africa region, including Kenya and Ethiopia, to reaffirm Ireland’s relationship with our partners in the region and the broader African continent. The visit will highlight the future opportunities offered by the ever-growing trade, personal and political links between Ireland and the Horn of Africa.


Minister Coveney will first visit Ethiopia to meet with a range of political leaders, including the Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, and the Foreign Minister, Workneh Gebeyehu. These meetings will offer him a chance to highlight the many areas in which Ireland-Ethiopia links are developing, including sustainable tourism, education and our bilateral development cooperation.

Ethiopia is one of Ireland’s key partner countries and Ireland’s development cooperation programme in the country is our largest in the world, amounting to €29 million in 2017. The programme has a broad focus on sustainable development, including areas such as social protection, nutrition and health. Increasingly, Ireland and Ethiopia are developing trade links that will foster inclusive economic growth for Ethiopian and Irish citizens. Ethiopia has also been affected by the humanitarian crises in the region, including drought and hunger affecting some Ethiopian provinces, and humanitarian needs caused by drought, hunger, underdevelopment and conflict in neighbouring countries. Despite the pressure to meet the development needs of its own citizens, Ethiopia has retained its open door policy to refugees. Ethiopia is now home to the second-largest refugee population in Africa and Minister Coveney will announce Ireland’s solidarity with Ethiopia and the vulnerable populations it is hosting.

Regional Organisations

The capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, is also the home of the African Union [AU], the continental organisation that seeks to foster political and economic integration across the continent. Minister Coveney will meet with AU representatives to discuss the challenges facing the continent, explore opportunities to cooperate and the role that Ireland can play to work with partners in Africa to overcome these challenges. The EU and AU will hold a high-level Summit in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, at the end of the month, where they will discuss common issues affecting the continents, notably job creation, peace and security, and migration. Minister Coveney will also meet with the leaders of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a regional Horn of Africa organisation which works to promote regional integration and has worked to try to bring peace to a region wracked by conflict, including through recent efforts to revitalise the South Sudan peace process. Ireland will continue to support these organisations as they strive to find local solutions to the instability of their region.


Following his visit to Ethiopia, Minister Coveney will travel to Kenya to meet political counterparts, formally open the Irish Embassy and witness a number of agreements to further deepen Ireland-Kenya trade links. Ireland’s Embassy in Kenya re-opened in 2014 and Ireland’s excellent relations with Kenya are exemplified by our cooperation in bringing about the Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations in 2015, where 193 countries agreed on a blueprint to ensure global progress in the next 15 years by ending poverty and hunger, and ensuring peace, prosperity and a healthy environment.

Economic links between Ireland and Kenya continue to multiply and Minister Coveney will launch the new Ireland-Kenya Agri-business Strategy, which sets out how our two countries can work together to increase productivity and make the agri-food sector a dynamic driver of inclusive economic growth in both our countries.

In an opinion piece reflecting on his visit to the region, Minister Coveney quoted the young Somali-British poet Warsan Shire who wrote,

“…no one puts their children in a boat

unless the water is safer than the land”.

It is the responsibility of political leaders in Africa and Europe to address the interconnected challenges that face our continents and Minister Coveney continued,

“We live on and off the land. We need to make sure all our children find their home there – through investing in food security, livelihoods, and in ensuring the safety of all.  

There is more, much more, that we can do.”