Nasser Mohamed Ousbo, ambassador of the Republic of Djibouti to Cuba, highlighted the strong ties of friendship stemming from the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1998. Photo: Karoly Emerson (ICAP)

Nasser Mohamed Ousbo, ambassador of the Republic of Djibouti to Cuba, described bilateral relations between the two countries as excellent, with encouraging prospects for their future development.

In an interview with Granma International in Havana, the African representative noted that since diplomatic relations were established in 1998, various agreements have existed between the two nations, above all in the fields of health, education, sports and engineering.

Since 2002, hundreds of Cubans have been offering services in Djibouti; a country located in the Horn of Africa, bordered by Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, with a population of less than one million, and an economy fundamentally based on port services.

According to the ambassador, to date 110 students from Djibouti have graduated from Cuban universities; 63 as doctors; while 19 are currently studying on the island. He also noted that “while Cuban authorities prioritize solidarity in relations between the two countries, in Djibouti we have many capitalist powers whose interests are purely economic.”

He went on to mention the praiseworthy efforts of Cuban internationalist combatants who contributed to liberation struggles on the continent, which saw several African nations win their independence, and the defeat of the oppressive, racist apartheid regime in South Africa.

Mohamed Ousbo added that his country is one of several on the continent to benefit from Cuban collaboration, with 88 medical specialists, six high-performance coaches, and several professionals from the agriculture and hydraulic resource sectors contributing to outstanding results in Djiboutí’s development.

In this regard he noted: “When the collaborators go on vacation, or finish their work, the people share their opinions on social media, thanking them for their efforts and asking that more professionals from the island come. All Djiboutians feel great affection for their Cuban doctors and trainers.”
The African diplomat also highlighted how the island’s medical professionals help to raise health indicators, and provide urgently needed medical coverage for the population; while athletes from the country, trained by Cuban coaches, have won medals in international sporting competitions. “For us, the collaborators are highly cherished and indispensable people,” he stated.

Furthermore, Mohamed Ousbo noted that relations between the two countries are marked by high-level visits from Cuban delegations to Djibouti, citing those made by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla; President of the National Assembly of People’s Power Esteban Lazo Hernández; and Public Health Minister Roberto Morales Ojeda, as well as other officials from the island.

He also expressed his government’s opposition to the unjust economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States, and its demand that the territory illegally occupied by the U.S. Naval Base in Guantánamo be returned to the island.
Meanwhile, the African ambassador described Djiboutí’s economic development as slow, due to the fact that the country only broke free from the yoke of French colonialism 40 years go. He noted that despite lacking natural resources, the nation benefits from its strategic geographic position between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, making it a natural port in the Indian Ocean region.

“Our ports,” he explained, “handle trade between Asian countries and the West. Our economy is essentially service-based, concentrated on activity in the free-trade zone and shipping. This is the core of Djibouti’s economic relations.”

Today, the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is growing at an average annual rate of 5%, while the government is looking to promote national development through the establishment of what has been dubbed as Africa’s largest free-trade zone, with Chinese backing, alongside the construction of six new ports and three airports.

In this way, Djibouti hopes to become an important regional financial center and telecommunications and high-speed internet hub, while at the same time the country is looking to maximize its tourism potential in the form of its breathtaking coasts and warm seas. As such Mohamed Ousbo stressed the importance of training young people, attracting more foreign investment, and contracting highly qualified professionals.

The Republic of Djibouti gained its independence on June 27, 1977, and this year organized a series of cultural activities in and outside of the country to celebrate the important anniversary. “In honor of the national holiday we screened audiovisuals recalling our history, undertook social activities, and held workshops and events,” stated the ambassador.

In addition to these festivities, a political-cultural act was held at Havana’s Institute of Friendship for the Peoples (ICAP), with the participation of directors and representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cuban officials and students from Djibouti.

During the event, the African ambassador expressed his support for the Cuban Revolution, and in particular the economic changes underway in the country. “My nation has always supported the struggle for respect for sovereignty and adherence to international law, and will continue to do so at Cuba’s side.”