President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina will begin an official visit to Africa today.

The President will visit Ethiopia, Malawi and South Africa over the next three weeks.

The visit aims to build on Ireland's strong historic relationship with Africa, the major contribution of Ireland's development aid programmes and Irish missionaries, and will aim to strengthen bilateral partnerships for the future.

President Higgins will also address pan-African themes, including sustainable development, climate change, human rights and the urgent challenges posed by the Ebola crisis.

He will visit refugee camps in Ethiopia and Malawi, as well as meeting local communities, Irish NGOs and participants in Irish Aid programmes.

While in South Africa, President Higgins will deliver a keynote address on human rights in Johannesburg and will meet South African President Jacob Zuma.

He will return to Ireland on 22 November.

Mr Higgins recently returned from a visit to Wales, where he met members of the Irish community and attended a Dylan Thomas festival.