Ethiopian Prime Minister, Dr Abiy Ahmed Ali, has expressed hope that incoming African Union chairperson, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, will help bring peace between Ethiopia and Egypt.
Abiy said this at the Union Buildings in Pretoria where Ramaphosa is hosting him on an official visit.
The youngest leader on the continent, Abiy leads a country that is at odds with Egypt over the use of the water in the Blue Nile river.
Ethiopia is about to complete Africa's biggest hydroelectric project through the Grand Renaissance Dam on the border with Sudan and accuses Egypt of working to frustrate the project and blocking the east African country's development.
But Egypt accuses Ethiopia of seeking unfettered control over the flow of the Blue Nile river, which over 100 million Egyptians rely on for water supply. If Ethiopia draws the bulk of the water from the Nile, Egypt fears this will threaten its country's already scarce water supply.
“President Ramaphosa is friend to both Egypt and Ethiopia. I’m sure he will play a significant role in bringing peace,” Abiy said on Sunday.
He also said South Africa and Ethiopia share a great history that makes their relationship unique and strong.
“Today history is repeating itself. President Nelson Mandela was trained in Ethiopia during the struggle against apartheid. After the victory he won the Nobel Peace Prize.
“Then I was trained here in South Africa when I was a soldier. As you [Ramaphosa] said, I was given a chance to win a Nobel Peace Prize. This history can tell that South Africa and Ethiopia hold exchange in many areas and we can have networking peace," Abiy said.
He was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation with Eritrea. Abiy's peace deal with Eritrea ended a 20-year military stalemate following their 1998-2000 border war.
He became Prime Minister in April 2018, and introduced massive reforms to Ethiopia, freeing thousands of opposition political activists from jail and allowing exiled dissidents to return home. Under him, women have also been appointed to almost half of senior cabinet positions.
On Saturday Abiy attended the governing African National Congress' 108th birthday celebrations in Kimberley on Saturday.
Ramaphosa said he was honored to have received Abiy to his “second home”.
“I am advised, Your Excellency, that you regard South Africa as your second home, as you spent your student days at one of our local universities,” Ramaphosa said.
He said both countries are important to South Africa and should be able to find peace as they aim to “silence the guns.”