South African companies keen to invest in Ethiopia

South African investors and representatives of companies have expressed their readiness to invest in Ethiopia and do business with.

A South African business delegation comprising 22 investors and representatives of companies are currently in Ethiopia to explore investment potentials and opportunities in the country, particularly in manufacturing, agro-processing, energy and construction sectors.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Aklilu Hailemichael met with the South African Business Delegation on Monday (March 6, 2017) and briefed them on investment prospects in Ethiopia. 

Dr. Aklilu  underscored that the delegation's current move will promote Ethiopia's aspiration to boost the intra Africa trade and enhance south-south cooperation.

He said, "Ethiopia attracts investors from China and Turkey as well as the US and Europe; nevertheless we would like to also promote south-south economic cooperation between African countries."

Touching upon the huge investment potentials in Ethiopia, the State Minister said, "Ethiopia's geographic location, its active membership in regional and bilateral trade agreements, including various other platforms with the U.S, EU and COMESA region, and the favorable investment policies make it an attractive investment destination."

Ethiopia's young and productive work force which accounts for 60 percent of the population also offers significant comparative advantages to investors, he added.

State Minister of Foreign Affairs Hirut Zemene has briefed the diplomatic community based in Addis Ababa on the current situation of the country.

During the briefing, she said the government of Ethiopia, under the leadership of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, has been undertaking major reforms towards the widening of the political space, ensuring respect for human rights and the rule of law as well as media freedom.

“Despite these sweeping reforms, unrests have been witnessed in some parts of the country mainly aimed at destructing the current sweep of change,” she noted.

Furthermore, Hirut stated that the recent violence and attacks on innocent civilians outside of Addis Ababa in Burayu area and its surroundings constitute one of the attempts to disrupt the ongoing reform.

She revealed that the violence caused the loss of lives of 25 people and properties as well as displacement.

Following the violence in Burayu, demonstrations that were largely peaceful took place in the capital city. However, five lives were lost when security forces tried to defend themselves while some protesters snatched their guns.

The Federal police, along with Addis Ababa police and Oromia regional state as well as the local communities, have been working closely to restore peace in the areas, she said, adding that more than 700 suspects have been detained for alleged involvement in the turmoil.

“Currently the security situation in these areas is coming back to normal. This unfortunate incident is receiving overwhelming condemnation from all corners,” the state minister noted.

Hirut stressed that the government is committed to ensuring the prevalence of rule of law and the perpetrators will be brought to justice.

“In a large and diverse nation which is undertaking fast reform and measures, such challenges are inevitable and should not be taken as surprise,” she pointed out.

“We would like to assure the diplomatic communities and members of the international organizations that calms and normalcy will prevail as usual,” Hirut stated.

The state minister reiterated that Ethiopia will continue to play its parts in regional and global peace and security matters.

Ethiopia has been playing a leading role in United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in resolving regional conflicts, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

In a press briefing he gave to the media, Meles Alem, Spokesperson of the Ministry said Ethiopia has brought achievements in resolving and preventing security challenges both at the regional and global levels.

Mentioning achievements that Ethiopia has brought since it became a non-permanent member to the UNSC, Meles said that the country went a long way to restore peace and security in South Sudan and Somalia.

“We are well aware of that unlike many regions, the East African geopolitics is the volatile region for a long time.  If we take Somalia’s case, we are extensively engage in supporting Somalia’s security structure and deployed thousands of troops in weakening Al-shabab,” he indicated.

Noting on the new peace initiative that the South Sudan warring parties signed early September, Meles said Ethiopia’s “constructive role” was vital in bringing together the factions to sign the revitalized agreement.

“As Ethiopia has a legacy for Africa’s interest, it has actively engaged in the fight against Al-Shabaab insurgents in neighboring Somalia, it is involved in peace efforts in South Sudan and is Africa’s largest contributor to peacekeeping efforts to United Nations,” he said.

Saying that Ethiopia is always working for the fulfillment of the African interest, it will continue to promote the continent’s interest at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly that focuses on global economic, political and social issues.

Ethiopia, which a ‘non permanent’ seat on the UNSC in June 2016, has officially commenced its two year tenure in January 2017.

Ethiopia is one of the 10 non-permanent members of the UNSC and it takes its turn in a revolving presidency. The country has used its tenure to focus on resolution of conflicts in Somalia, South Sudan and in the Great Lakes region

President Mulatu Teshome bade farewell to the outgoing Egyptian Ambassador, Abou Bakr Hefny Mahmoud on September 20 at the National Palace.

During the occasion, the President and the outgoing Ambassador have conferred on ways of further boosting the economic cooperation between the two sides.

President Mulatu appreciated the Ambassador’s special efforts he made in enhancing economic and trade cooperation between Ethiopia and Egypt.

The outgoing Ambassador told reporters that they have discussed on a number of issues that could bolster bilateral ties.

“We have talked about the investment between our two countries, bilateral relations in tourism and trade,” he said.

The departing Ambassador has also pledged to continue promoting investment opportunities and ties and in his capacity.

He said “I promised the president for promoting the bilateral relations between our two countries and promotion of investments.”

Welcoming the signing of the Revitalized Agreement to Resolve the Conflict in South Sudan (RARCSS) as positive and significant development, UN Secretary-General António Guterres lauded the regional and international efforts that led to the signing of the Agreement.

The Secretary-General called on the signatories of the Agreement to fully and inclusively implement the agreement both in letter and spirit, so that the people of South Sudan can finally receive the peace dividend they deserve.

“It is imperative that all parties immediately cease hostilities across South Sudan,” Guterres stressed.

He emphasized that the road ahead remains challenging and the international community must remain seized of the situation in South Sudan throughout the implementation of the RARCSS.

He reaffirmed that the United Nations stands ready, in close coordination with the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union, to assist the parties in implementing the Agreement.

The reforms underway in Ethiopia would help to create favorable conditions that attract more investors in various areas, resident representatives of various countries said.

In an exclusive interview with ENA, Indian, Turkish, Korean, and Swedish Ambassadors to Ethiopia said they are impressed by the recent reforms taken in the political and economic spheres.

Indian ambassador to Ethiopia, Anuraga Srivastava said the economic reform of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has clearly generated a lot of interest among Indian investors.

More investors from India are looking at various investment opportunities, including food processing, plastic, leather and garment, among others, he stated, adding that a number of foreign companies have already shown interest to partake in the investment opportunities extended by the government.

Big global companies from India are studying the partial privatization initiative as some of them have already been operating in Africa. So, they are closely watching the developments in the country.

Ambassador Srivastava pointed out that India “would like to participate in the economic reforms as we are a close economic and political partner of Ethiopia. We stand ready to participate in the process.”

Commenting on the development in the bilateral relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea, he said “I think this is again something that brings a lot of hope and enthusiasm in this region.”

Turkish Ambassador Fatih Ulusoy said his government has expressed support for the government of Ethiopia for the reform measure it has been taking in the country.

 “We are very happy to see these reforms and encourage Ethiopia to continue with the reform. Actually, we think opening up Ethiopia’s economy will help attract more investors to Ethiopia.”

Noting the significance of the steps taken by the government on the partial privatization, he urged Turkish investors to focus on the program initiated by Ethiopia.

With regard to efforts of normalization between Ethiopia and Eritrea, Ambassador Ulusoy said “I think the normalization between the countries will bring new momentum not only politically, but also economically. It will bring more investment, more projects and infrastructure to connect the two countries.”

Korean Ambassador to Ethiopia, Lim Hoon-min said his government supports the major reforms in the country, including the one to make the economic more open.

“The Korean government has expressed support to the reforms that the new PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed has been pursuing since he came to power. We highly value his approaches to establish inclusive political culture and also take various measures which transcend boundaries, tribes and regions; specially sending the message of unity and harmony.”

According to Ambassador Hoon-min Lim, Korea exerts great effort to contribute to the sustainable stabilization and prosperity of the Horn of Africa as well as the current Ethiopian initiative to improve relationship with neighboring countries, including Eritrea.

Finland’s Deputy Ambassador to Ethiopia Jukka Pajarinen said considerable changes have been happening in the country and the Horn of Africa region, paving the way for peace and mutual development.

“Foreign investors and businesses always wanted to predictability in a way; and they need a business climate that is conducive for the room on businesses and it seems that more businesses are now interested in coming to Ethiopia, a country with very impressive economic growth.”

All citizens of the country should work to implement this reform in a way that will benefit not only Ethiopia but the whole African region, he added.

Deputy Ambassador Pajarinen stated that Ethiopia seems to have embarked on a new sort of strategy that attracts businesses and increases possibilities of private companies to invest in Ethiopia.

Swedish Ambassador to Ethiopia Torbjorn Petersson said “we the Swedish are very positive to the change we have seen. We think that it has been a long wish of the Ethiopian people to have freedom of speech, media freedom and peace with neighboring countries.”

All these things are very much welcome, he stressed, adding his hope that the reforms would unify the country, stop hostility and protests in some parts of the country as well as in increase the economic performance of the country.

The reforms and strategies will be very productive for Ethiopia in terms of increasing jobs and revenues from exports.

Many measures, including partial privatization of state-owned enterprises, freeing of the media and releasing thousand of prisoners as well as normalizing relations with Eritrea, have been taken since Prime Minister Abiy came to power.

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