Ethiopian Airlines recently announced that they are opening up a new flight path, direct from Addis to Oslo. An official press release in November stated that there will be as many as five flights per week from May. Since Ethiopian already flies direct to Sweden, this move shows that demand for direct access to the African continent from one of Europe’s most powerful economies is growing.
Norwegians are relatively wealthy and are very keen international travellers. The strength of the Norwegian krone makes travel to other countries attractive to them, as well as making them especially welcome guests. Since English is widely taught and spoken in Norway, there is not even a need for tourism industry professionals in East Africa to learn the language. But what about traffic the other way? What delights does Norway hold for Africans?
Many African travellers to Scandinavia will undoubtedly be going for work or a family reunion. But as affluence rises on the continent, Oslo may be seriously considered by well-off east Africans as an alternative to the well-trodden tourist destinations of London, Paris or Rome. Meanwhile, canny African businessmen would do well to look to the Norwegians as possible business partners. In the sectors of energy, IT and food, to name but a few, Norway has a long and healthy relationship with Africa. This writer is particularly interested in culture and travelled recently from Entebbe to Oslo to meet with some music industry professionals.
More direct flight paths would certainly be welcome as this was a long journey, clocking in at around 14 hours, including a stopover in Kenya. The first shock was the weather: it was just above zero degrees Celsius and I was told that this was a warm winter! The temperature dropped another few degrees in the night. However, as an Afghan taxi driver once told me: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” So, tightly-wrapped in a jumper, jacket and fine leather shoes, I headed out from the airport.