BOLE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT CORNERSTONE
No development in the modem world has been so startling or has produced such far-reaching results in so short a time as has the revolution in the field of communications which the 20th century has witnessed. Only a few decades ago, travel from one quarter of the globe to another was a month-long process. Battles continued in wars, when peace had already been declared between the combattant nations.
How different is the situation in 1962. Today, man’s voice flashes around the earth in split seconds. Distance and time have been annihilated. The most recent events in any part of the world are immediately known thousands of miles away. Moreover, times in which we live have witnessed man’s success in his endeavour to reach the moon and the stars.
Few nations have been as deeply affected by the revolution in communications and transport as Ethiopia. Our high mountain fortress, which for so many years stood as a bulwark between Ethiopia and the outside world, has only been breached within the memory of men who live today, but the changes wrought are deep and their impact far-reaching. The technology of the modern world has become more speedily available to us as modern facilities for the communication of ideas and the transport of men and material have reached into Ethiopia.
The ceremony in which We participate today stands as testimony to the vitally important role which air transport has played in Ethiopia in the past 15 years and as a promise for the ever-increasing contribution which this mode of transportation will contribute to the well-being of Ethiopia and Our beloved people in the future. It has also been gratifying to us to note that Our young men who were given training in aviation here since the past 15 years have been very promising. Thanks to air transportation, the agricultural produce of our nation has moved into the export market from areas hitherto inaccessible except over remote and hazardous mountain trails. Thanks to air transportation, goods and materials have moved into outlying regions of Our Empire, thus providing Our people with the basis for an ever-increasing standard of living, exciting their imagination and encouraging them to seek yet further means of improving their way of life.
Air transportation has enabled Ethiopia to become better acquainted not only with her neighbours, but with the peoples of other continents, and We are proud that Ethiopian Airlines has been the first African carrier to span the broad expanse between Eastern and Western Africa. We have signed agreements with various African and European countries providing the widest measure of rights to the Ethiopian Air Lines.
Most Modern Facilities
Owing so much to air transport, and expecting such significant rewards from its further expansion, it is only fitting that Our nation should possess the most modern air facilities. The installations which are under construction and for which We today dedicate the commemoration stone will permit and encourage the further development of air travel and transport both within Ethiopia and abroad. Although We are physically present only in Addis Ababa Our action today should be regarded as symbolically touching the new air installations being constructed at Asmara, at Dire Dawa, at Jimma and Bahr Dar as well.
These facilities are being financed by loans negotiated with the Development Loan Fund of the Government of the United States of America, and We are grateful for this assistance. We must, however, also recognize that the indebtedness thus incurred constitutes a heavy burden for our Government and people, and we must be assiduous to insure that the moneys We are investing will earn a proper return. Exports must be increased, tourists and other visitors must be encouraged to come to Ethiopia and their stay here made pleasant and fruitful. Ethiopian Airlines services must be expanded, and all measures required to ensure that its operations continue to be safe and efficient must be taken. In short, a co-ordinated effort calculated to accelerate the growth of air transport within Ethiopia as well as between Ethiopia and her neighbours in Africa, Asia and Europe must be undertaken and pressed to completion. We call upon all whoso responsibilities lie in this field to redouble their efforts.
We express thanks to the Minister of Public Works and Communications, to the Department of Civil Aviation, to Ethiopian Airlines, to the firms engaged in the construction of these installations, and to all those others whose efforts have contributed to the work which We see in progress before Us. We look forward to the day when these works will be completed and when Ethiopia’s commercial aviation arm will have truly entered the modern jet age.
July 17, 1962
Selected Speeches of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie – page 566 –