Michael D. Higgins Begins Africa Visit

Michael D. Higgins is to depart tomorrow, 1 November, on an official three-county visit to Africa.

The President will have engagements in Ethiopia, where he will meet with President Mulatu Teshome and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Malawi, where he will meet with President Peter Mutharika and South Africa, where he will meet with President Jacob Zuma. He will be accompanied by his wife, Sabina Higgins.

The trip marks the third major overseas visit by the President so far, following his state visit to the United Kingdom last April and an official visit to the United States in May.

"This visit will recognise and build on Ireland's strong historic relationship with Africa, the major contribution of Ireland's development aid programmes and Irish missionaries, and will aim to strengthen bilateral partnerships for the future," a statement from Áras an Uachtaráin said.

"During the visit the President will address pan-African themes including sustainable development, climate change, human rights and urgent challenges posed by population movements and the current Ebola crisis."

President Higgins said: "Ireland's relationship with Africa is an important area of our foreign policy and an area which is increasing in its significance because of global issues such as food security, ending poverty and the emerging discussion on new models of development.

"Over recent decades, our relationship with Africa has mainly centred on our development aid programme. This visit will recognise the immense contribution that Irish Aid, Irish aid agencies and workers and missionaries have made in Africa and will include visits to a range of aid projects in both Ethiopia and Malawi. I will also engage with the current debate on the future of Africa and its global relationships."


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