We have come here today to lay the cornerstone of an essential component in Ethiopia’s development structure. The construction of the Assab Oil Refinery marks the commencement of a bright new era in the history of Ethiopian economic development, an era which will surely witness Ethiopia’s full advent into the modern industrial age.
This great oil refinery may properly be termed Ethiopia’s first major heavy industrial project. Its importance to the further growth and expansion of Ethiopian industry in all its aspects cannot be over-estimated. Within a short time, Ethiopia will be entirely self-sufficient in the supply of refined petroleum products. The petroleum products are essential to the future growth and expansion of all sectors of the Ethiopian economy. Roads and road transport to the important agricultural centres of the nation can be expected to improve both in scope and efficiency as a result of this new project. Its success will lend further encouragement to the development of innumerable new and related industrial projects.
Here at Assab, the Refinery has already shown itself an important element in the burgeoning local economy. Thousands of workers have been employed and have learned vital new skills in the course of its construction. Increased shipping will utilize Assab’s modern port facilities, ensuring that Assab will continue its remarkable growth and prosperity of recent years. We hope that someday, God willing, we will strike oil in our country and will not be required to buy crude oil from other countries. Heavy drains on Ethiopia’s foreign exchange will be eliminated, as these requirements are reduced to those needed to provide the essential supply of crude oil and to maintain this refinery in proper working order. Although there are some technicians trained we need many trained personnel. As experience is obtained, Ethiopians will increasingly assume larger responsibilities for the administration and technical operation of this installation. The impact of the establishment of this installation is thus not single but multiple in its effects.
It was long argued that smaller nations such as Ethiopia could not support or justify the construction of complex and costly facilities such as that which rises before us. The contention, already disproved in theory, will soon be even more effectively rebutted in practice. The success which We are confident will mark the Assab refinery’s operations will spur Ethiopia to follow this example in other areas vital to the growth and self-sufficiency of the nation’s economy.
For the support and guidance which have led to the achievement of this important new industrial asset, We and Our people are deeply grateful. The U. S. S. R. Government, through the credit advanced for the financing of this project, have reaffirmed their sympathy in the deepest aspirations of Our people. The bonds between us have been strengthened as a result of our co-operation in this endeavour and we look forward to the successful broadening of this co-operation into many other areas of economic and technical advance. The magnificent accomplishments of the Soviet people in the development of heavy industry throughout the recent past provide a stirring example to Our people. A fine example of which is the Polytechnical Institute which is a source of knowledge presented to us by the Soviet Government.
We thank the Soviet engineers and technicians for the fine co-operation they have shown with Our people in building up this refinery.
It is our firm determination, and that of Our Government, that the full impact of modern industrial progress will be felt to the farthest corners of the Empire. All Ethiopians welcome the promise of this new industrial era. We and Our Government shall do all within our power to hasten the day when its full benefits are enjoyed by every Ethiopian.
We wish to thank His Excellency the Soviet Ambassador, Mr. A. Boudakov, for his sincere co-operation and great effort to bring about the conclusion of the construction Agreement of this petroleum refinery.
This refinery is but one of the significant steps in Ethiopia’s drive for a rapid industrialization, within the frame-work of modern Ethiopianism, for it answers in a convincing manner the aspirations of the nation to press forward in constructing on the foundations already laid an edifice worthy of its striving.
May 8, 1965
Selected Speeches of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie – page 572 – &
Important Utterances of H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie I - page 60 -
|Assab Oil Refinery|