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An Ethiopian city could become the 10th municipality in Madison’s sister city program.

A group of Madison residents has submitted an application that would make Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, a sister city of the Wisconsin capital. If approved by the City Council, it would be the second city from an African nation to join the cultural program, which promotes the exchange of ideas.

Madison and the East African city both serve as capitals for their respective state or region, have large public universities and are located near lakes, according to the application.

In Bahir Dar’s case, it is Lake Tana, which is Ethiopia’s largest lake and has a surface area roughly the size of Rhode Island.

Madison could provide insight to Bahir Dar on how to address problems with a recent invasive species discovered in Lake Tana and better ways to create bike- and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, according to the application, which said the mayor of Bahir Dar recently visited Madison.

In 2016, the City Council adopted Kanifing, Gambia, as its ninth sister city and the first one from an African nation. The other sister cities are: Ainaro, East Timor; Arcatao, El Salvador; Camaguey, Cuba; Freiburg, Germany; Mantova, Italy; Obihiro, Japan; Tepatitlán, Mexico; and Vilnius, Lithuania.


Logan Wroge has been a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal since 2015.