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Ethiopians boosted by Mandarin

XINHUA | Updated: 2021-07-16 07:40
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ADDIS ABABA-Remedan Alemar, 24, is busy interacting with Ethiopian and Chinese co-workers at a landmark construction project site in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

Alemar, one of the many young Ethiopians who make their living out of interpreting the Chinese language to Amharic, Ethiopia's working language, facilitates working procedures at the site, bridging the communication gap which often occurs at foreign-contracted projects in the country.

He earned his bachelor's degree in the Chinese language from Taiyuan University of Science and Technology in China's Shanxi province.

"I wanted to learn Chinese because of the thriving economic relationship between China and Africa," says Alemar, who serves as an interpreter for the China State Construction Engineering Corp, in Addis Ababa.

There is a growing demand for Chinese-speaking bilingual Ethiopians due to the increasing number of Chinese companies.

Tsgereda Tigro is another young Chinese language graduate, who works as a Chinese language interpreter and is an assistant to the manager at a mobile phone manufacturing factory in Addis Ababa, China Smart Opus. "The role of interpreters in Chinese-owned companies is critical,"Tigro says.

Tigro, who was set to pursue journalism when enrolling into Addis Ababa University, joined its Confucius Institute after attending a promotional event by its Chinese instructors about the benefit of learning Mandarin.

Liu Xiaolin, general manager of China Smart Opus Mobile Phone Manufacturing, spoke highly of the benefit of having interpreters, such as Tigro, in facilitating the smooth operations of his plant.

As a result of the ever growing demand, and the attraction of better career opportunities, the number of students pursuing the Chinese language at the Confucius Institute in Addis Ababa University and other universities is on the rise, especially as graduates of the institute command attractive salaries.

Tigro landed her first job upon graduation, with a monthly salary of 25,000 Ethiopian birr ($580), about five times higher than that of her former schoolmates, who are pursuing other fields of study and careers. For comparison, the median salary for a new graduate in Ethiopia is estimated at around 5,000 Ethiopian birr a month.

In addition to the lucrative career opportunities, Chinese language studies at the Confucius Institute are also augmenting the people-to-people relations between the two countries.

"The sessions combine elements that help us to better comprehend the various dimensions of Chinese culture," Tigro says.

The Confucius Institute in Addis Ababa University, which started operation back in 2012, has so far registered over 10,000 students, who have passed through various levels of Chinese language studies at different facilities across the country.

Among them, close to 100 were able to get their bachelor's degree in Chinese language, according to figures from the institute.

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