Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived in Addis Ababa for the African Union Summit on Friday night, seeking to galvanise support for his country ahead of an upcoming contest for a seat at the influential United Nations Security Council.
Canada has been locked in a contest with Norway and the Republic of Ireland for two non-permanent seats that would be available later this year on the Security Council. Election into the seats is scheduled to hold in June.
Mr Trudeau became the first Canadian leader to attend the annual summit of the African Union, an umbrella body for 54 out of 193 countries that would take part in the Security Council votes.
He touched down Friday night with a team that includes his cabinet members and Nigerian basketball executive, Masai Ujiri, meeting first with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner.
On Saturday morning, the Canadian leader spoke at an event on gender equality and women empowerment which was held at Sheraton Hotel on the sidelines of the ongoing African Union Summit.
He said Canada would earmark $10 million in aid towards women empowerment on the continent.
The donation could be a response to critics who said Canada has failed to pull its weight around funding for African peace and economic security projects, lagging perpetually behind other global players like the European Union, United States and China.
Mr Trudeau’s three-day visit to Africa, which would also take him to Senegal, underscored the influential perspective of the continent on global affairs. The two non-permanent seats, each lasting for two years, would likely be won and lost amongst competing countries based on their individual support from Africa.
Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg would also be in Addis Ababa, a growing hub for diplomatic activities, to seek support for her country ahead of June vote.
Already, Leo Varadkar, an influential political figure in Ireland, had visited Ethiopia in January to ask for support from African leaders.
It was unclear whether African leaders would tie their support to some sort of benefits from the three competing countries, especially on bilateral and social mobility bases.
Mr Ujiri told reporters he was mounting pressure on Canadian government to relax visa for African students to study in Canada.
The British-born Nigerian sports mogul said he had discussed with Mr Trudeau’s government to open more visa applications centres across Africa in line with a new Canadian immigration policy that has aided migration of professionals from the continent in recent years.