Chapter XII
Transportation & Communication
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Cornerstone Of Assab Refinery
May 08, 1965
We have come here today to lay the cornerstone of an essential component in Ethiopia's
development structure.  The construction of the Assab Oil Refinery marks the commencement of a
bright new era in the history of Ethiopian economic development, an era which will surely witness
Ethiopia's full advent into the modern industrial age.

This great oil refinery may properly be termed Ethiopia's first major heavy industrial project.  Its
importance to the further growth and expansion of Ethiopian industry in all its aspects cannot be
over-estimated.  Within a short time, Ethiopia will be entirely self-sufficient in the supply of refined
petroleum products.  The petroleum products are essential to the future growth and expansion of
all sectors of the Ethiopian economy.  Roads and road transport to the important agricultural
centres of the nation can be expected to improve both in scope and efficiency as a result of this new
project.  Its success will lend further encouragement to the development of innumerable new and
related industrial projects.

Here at Assag, the Refinery has already shown itself an important element in the burgeoing local
economy.  Thousands of workers have been employed and have learned vital new skills in the
course of its construction.  Increased shipping will utilize Assab's modern port facilities, ensuring
that Assab will continue its remarkable growth and prosperity of recent years.  We hope that
someday, God willing, we will strike oil in our country and will not be required to buy crude oil
from other countries.  Heavy drains on Ethiopia's foreign exchange will be eliminated, as these
requirements are reduced to those needed to provide the essential supply of crude oil and to
maintain this refinery in proper working order.  Although there are some technicians trained We
need many trained personnel.  As experience is obtained, Ethiopians will increasingly assume
larger responsibilities for the administration and technical operation of this installation.  The
impact of the establishment of this installation is thus not single but multiple in its effects.

It was long argued that smaller nations such as Ethiopia cold not support or justify the
construction of complex and costly facilities such as that which rises before Us.  The contention,
already disproved in theory, will soon be even more effectively rebutted in practice.  The success
which We are confident will mark the Assab refinery's operations will spur Ethiopia to follow this
example in other areas vital to growth and self-sufficiency of the nation's economy.

For the support and guidance which have led to the achievement of this important new industrial
asset, We and Our people are deeply grateful.  The U.S.S.R. Government, through the credit
advanced for the financing of this project, have reaffirmed their sympathy in the deepest
aspirations of Our people.  The bonds between us have been strenghtened as a result of our
co-operation in this endeavour co-operation into many other areas of economic and technical
advance.  The magnificent accomplishments of the Soviet people in the development of heavy
industry throughout the recent past provide a stirring example to Our people.  A fine example of
which is te Polytechnical Institute which is a source of knowledge presented to us by the Soviet

We thank the Soviet engineers and technicians for the co-operation they have shown with Our
people in building up this refinery.

It is our firm determination, and that of Our Government, that the full impact of modern industrial
progress will be felt to the farthest corners of the Empire.  Alll Ethiopians welcome the promise of
this new industrial era.  We and Our Government shall do all within our power to hasten the day
when its full benefits are enjoyed by every Ethiopian.

We wish to thank His Excellency the Soviet Ambassador, Mr. A. Boudakov, for his sincere
co-operation and great effort to bring about the conclusion of the construction Agreement of this
petroleum refinery.

This refinery is but one of the significant steps in Ethiopia's drive for a rapid industrialization,
within the framework of modern Ethiopianism, for it answers in a convincing manner the
aspirations of the nation to press forward in constructing on the foundations already laid an edifice
worthy of its striving.
Haile Selassie the First - May 8, 1965