ADDIS ABABA, May 17 (Xinhua) -- China sees energy as a key priority area in its Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership with Ethiopia, Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia Tan Jian said in a recent interview with Xinhua.
"Energy is needed for poverty alleviation and for economic development, as Ethiopia embarks on a massive industrialization drive with the assistance of China," Tan said.
He said China has been encouraging its companies to invest in Ethiopia's energy sector, particularly in wind and hydro energy and assist in improving Ethiopia's electricity grid.
Chinese companies have been prominent in large energy projects in Ethiopia, including a high voltage electric transmission line to a 6,450 MW hydro dam currently under construction on Blue Nile river, the 51 MW Adama I and 153 MW Adama II wind farm projects and the 300 MW Tekeze hydro project.
Ethiopia is currently undertaking massive energy projects which it hopes will increase the electricity generation capacity of the country from the current 4,300 MW to 17,300 MW by 2020.
It hopes the energy projects will power the east african country's goal of becoming a light industry manufacturing hub and middle-income economy by 2025.
With the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit scheduled for September in Beijing approaching, Tan said deepening energy partnership between Ethiopia and China is expected to take center stage in discussion between the two countries.
FOCAC, launched in 2000, is a forum held every three years, discussing a structured cooperation mechanism between China and African countries on different areas.
"We're discussing the energy theme with our Ethiopian brothers and sisters, how to align the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative with that of Ethiopia's massive poverty reduction program Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) II, which runs from 2015 to 2020," said Tan.
Proposed by China in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It is aimed at achieving policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity, building a new platform for international cooperation, and creating new drivers of shared development to benefit more countries and people.
Tan noted China has also assisted Ethiopia with finance and construction expertise on other infrastructure projects such as the 752km Ethiopia- Djibouti electrified rail line.
The rail line which recently started commercial operations has cut transportation time for Ethiopian goods to reach Djibouti ports from two days to 10 hours boosting landlocked Ethiopia's foreign trade.
While the results of China's assistance to Ethiopia's infrastructure drive is there for everyone to see, Tan said the Chinese embassy in Ethiopia has been helping the East African country in human development activities as well.
"My embassy is collaborating with Chinese firms to undertake human resource development of local staff, to equip them with the skills and knowledge to manage mega projects," said Tan.
"Ethiopia is a country of more than 100 million people, with abundant human resource potential. China will work with Ethiopia to train engineers, technicians, experts, so when Chinese firms invest in Ethiopia they can employ skilled Ethiopians and when Chinese companies finish projects, there's a trained Ethiopian workforce that can take over and manage the projects," he added.