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South Pole Group in business delegation with Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga in Ethiopia

by Nadia Kahkonen at 02 Nov 2015

In October 2015, a Swiss President visited Ethiopia for the first time in history. The traveling Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga asked a business delegation to join her for this first official visit. The South Pole Group feels very honored that it was elected as one of the six Swiss companies to be part of the Swiss business delegation.

The cooperation strategy of Switzerland in terms of humanitarian/development and human security expertise focuses its efforts on the "small" Horn of Africa comprising of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, North/North-Eastern Kenya and Somalia. This region is of direct concern with respect to international migration. Within the region, Ethiopia is the key discussion partner in terms of trades with Switzerland, stability and development path. Despite the fact that Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries of the world, it is currently host to over 720'000 refugees from neighbouring countries. In Ethiopia the poorest of the poor share their scarce natural resources with the refugees from abroad. During the visit, President Sommaruga committed to an immediate payment of CHF 6 million as support for the refugee camps. Helping the people on the ground seems more important than ever if Europe wants to avoid an even bigger wave of refugees fleeing to Europe.

Ethiopia has the ambition to become a low-level middle-income country by 2025 – meaning increasing its GDP to approximately 1050 to 1200 USD per capita per year. The current GDP per capita is 100 times lower than in Switzerland. In this development path Ethiopia is firmly committed to its Climate-Resilient Green Economy Strategy. On its path from an agricultural society towards an increased industrialization, per capita emissions are projected to decrease from 1.8 t per capita per year to 1.1 tons. Electricity production is 100% coming from renewable sources and has a large further potential hydro, wind, solar and geothermal electricity.

South Pole Group's CFO and Chairman of the Board Dr. Christoph Grobbel as part of the business delegation had the opportunity to meet Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, President Mulatu Teshome, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity Motuma Mekasa and various other personalities, such as the directors of the Ethiopian and Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce and the Director General of the Ethiopian Energy Authority to discuss opportunities of working together.

South Pole Group's CFO Dr. Christoph Grobbel (centre) next to Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga and Ambassador Livia Leu.

South Pole Group's CFO and Chairman of the Board Dr. Christoph Grobbel (centre) next to Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga (left) and Ambassador Livia Leu (right).


South Pole Group's activities in Africa include:

  • In Uganda, Senegal, Ghana and Tunisia, South Pole Group is implementing several public advisory assignments related to climate change policy and mitigation programs on behalf of international donors like UNDP, KfW and GIZ.
  • Cook Stove and Water Projects
    • For a Swiss client, South Pole Group has developed an insetting project in Kenya, in which cook stoves are distributed to the farmers of the Fairtrade roses sold in Switzerland.
    • In Tanzania, South Pole Group enables a water filter project, which is implemented by its local partner Basic Water Needs.
    • In Sudan South Pole Group has written a concept for a cook stoves program and is currently in discussions for the roll out.
    • For one of its clients, South Pole Group finances a chlorine dispenser program for safe drinking water in Kenya, Malawi and Uganda. This is part of a program of activities (PoA) which South Pole registered at the UN and the Gold Standard. With 13 host countries participating, is it is the worldwide broadest UN registered PoA.
  • Agriculture and Forestry
    • In Tanzania, South Pole assesses the impact of tobacco production on local forests for a private sector client.
    • In Zimbabwe, South Pole has co-developed the Kariba REDD+ forest conservation project. The project covers around 860'000 ha, creates alternative jobs for the local population, and conserves the wildlife.

Thank you for your interest!

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