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.

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Leo Varadkar, Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland arrived in Ethiopia for a working visit on January 8/2019. During his visit, Mr. Leo Varadkar held talks with Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed on bilateral, regional and international matters. The Prime Minister also paid a courtesy call on President Sahle-Work Zewde and met with the Acting Chairperson of the AU Commission as well as visiting the Lalibela Rock-Hewn churches and Irish Aid supported projects in Tigray Regional State. 2019 marks 25 years of diplomatic relations between Ireland and Ethiopia and 25 years of Irish Aid’s work in Ethiopia, and the visit of the Taoiseach underlined the depth and strength of the relationship between our two countries and the achievements of the partnership to date.

During his talks with Prime Minister Dr. Abiy on Wednesday (January 9) both sides underlined the importance of further strengthening the longstanding and excellent relations between the two countries. Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed noted that the visit by the Prime Minister of Ireland was a testimony of the strengthened ties between Europe and Ethiopia. The Irish Prime Minister praised the reforms being made in Ethiopia over the last few months and reiterated his government’s continued support to Ethiopia, particularly in agro-processing investments. They also discussed Ireland’s support for the political and economic reforms underway in Ethiopia, the growth of Ireland’s development cooperation program with Ethiopia and regional issues in the Horn of Africa, including the historic rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Prime Minister Varadkar paid a courtesy call on President Sahle-Work who welcomed the Prime Minister and underlined the excellent relations between Ireland and Ethiopia which is moving forward. She stressed the importance of strengthening cooperation on bilateral and multilateral fora and thanked the Irish Government for the support provided in agriculture, health, education and social protection sectors. She underlined the role of the Irish investors in Agro-processing and encouraged Irish investors to take part in agro-processing in the industrial parks. The Prime Minister, who mentioned that he was the first Irish Prime Minister to visit Ethiopia for a decade, highlighted Irish/Ethiopian collaboration on a myriad of bilateral and regional issues of common interest, He said: “Ethiopia has been our single key international partner for 25 years and we would like to further deepen our relations” adding, “We support the recent political and economic reforms undertaken by Ethiopia.” “Ireland”, he said, “is committed to boost business, trade and investment cooperation with Ethiopia.”

During his visit, the Irish Prime Minister met with Irish NGOs working in Ethiopia and attended a reception with the Irish community in Ethiopia where he launched the Ethio-Irish Alumni Association. On Thursday (January 10) he flew to the Lalibela Rock-Hewn Churches, a UNESCO World Heritage where he announced a new partnership between Ireland and Ethiopia on cultural heritage and rural tourism. Mr. Varadkar said this partnership would allow for exchanges and experience sharing between Irish and Ethiopian institutions, focused on cultural heritage tourism and rural job creation through tourism. He said Ethiopia’s Minister for Culture and Tourism, Dr Hirut Kassaw would visit Ireland to meet with relevant bodies in Ireland, and finalize a program of experience sharing between Ireland and Ethiopia. There is already an existing partnership covering cultural heritage tourism but the new program will deepen the partnership over the next two years. He said Lalibela would join the 2019 ‘Global Greening’ and, along with hundreds of other sites across the world, will go green on St Patrick’s Day 2019, to mark the deep friendship between the Ethiopian and Irish people.

He then travelled on to Axum where he visited a number of agriculture, health, education and social protection programs jointly supported by Irish Aid and the Ethiopian government. On Friday, he visited Eritrean refugee camps near Shire and met with refugees and local authorities to discuss Ireland’s support for Ethiopia in hosting the second largest refugee population in Africa and their joint commitment to the Global Compact for Migration.

Ireland is one of the key development partners of Ethiopia. In 2018, the Government of Ireland, through Irish Aid, invested €30 million in social protection, health, rural development and women’s empowerment in Ethiopia. This will increase this year by nearly 7% to €32 million (1 billion Ethiopian Birr). Ireland’s Development Cooperation Program with Ethiopia is the largest Irish government bilateral program in the world. Many Irish investors and companies are engaged in various investment sectors in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia and Ireland have a very strong and excellent relationship cemented on longstanding diplomatic and people-to-people ties. Ireland opened its embassy in Addis Ababa in 1994, and Ethiopia resumed its mission in Dublin, in 2003, but the relationship is based on wide ranging issues of mutual interest and precedes formal relations.  The most visible example of this was during the height of the 1984 famine in which so many Ethiopians died. Ireland’s response to that catastrophe remains a vivid and warming memory for Ethiopians. Most notable among the humanitarian efforts of the Irish people was the work of the Irish rock star, Sir Bob Geldof, whose initiative in organizing the Band Aid program mobilized the international community to provide the support that enabled the survival of millions of Ethiopians. The passionate and full-hearted response of the Irish people and their government to that crisis has remained a linchpin underlying current bilateral cooperation as well as people-to-people relations.

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President Sahle-Work Zewde held fruitful discussions with Prime Minister Leo Varadkaris of Ireland on January 09/2019.

President Sahle-Work Zewde warmly welcomed Prime Minister Varadkaris and appreciated the excellent relations between Ethiopia and Ireland.

President Sahle-Work immensely thanked the Irish Government for the support provided in agriculture, health, education and social protection sectors.

The President further said Ethiopia and Ireland are committed to boost ties in all domains in the spirit of mutual benefits and cooperation mainly in Argo-processing Industrial parks.

Highlighting collaboration on a myriad of bilateral and regional issues of common interest, Prime Minister Varadkaris said, “Ethiopia has been our single key international partner for 25 years and we would like to further deepen our relations.

“We support the recent political and economic reforms undertaken by Ethiopia; Ireland is committed to boost business, trade and investment cooperation with Ethiopia,” he added.

Prime Minister Varadkaris pointed out that Ethiopia and Ireland have longstanding and excellent relations. The President noted the importance of strengthening cooperation on both bilateral and multilateral venues.

#Ireland opened its embassy in Addis Ababa in 1994, and #Ethiopia resumed its mission in Dublin, in 2003

Ethiopia’s export under AGOA has jumped by 62 percent between October 2017 and September 2018.

The country experienced the largest increase exports in the period under review, according to USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub.

“If this growth continues, Ethiopia may quickly become the second or third largest exporter under AGOA in East Africa,” the Hub said.

East African countries supported by the USAID-Hub reached nearly one billion dollars in exports to the U.S. under AGOA in the period under review.

This is a 17 percent rise over figures from the previous year, and a 42 percent increase since the USAID Hub began.

Kenya remained the largest exporter in eastern Africa with a total of 454 million dollars.

Almost all other countries saw their exports grow, with the exceptions of Mauritius and Burundi. Mauritius has witnessed increased competition since Madagascar regained its AGOA eligibility. Burundi, while not AGOA-eligible, saw its exports under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) drop.

According to the Hub, apparel continues to dominate East African exports across countries, accounting for 84.4 percent of all AGOA exports during the reported period.

East African countries have made sustained efforts to take advantage of their AGOA eligibility in recent years.

Rwanda, Uganda, Madagascar, Tanzania and Kenya have developed national AGOA strategies that outline targeted support for critical sectors and product categories to maximize the countries’ utilization of its duty-free benefits, while Ethiopia is in the process of updating its national strategy.

Firms, with the Hub’s support, have also made strides in increasing their competitiveness so that they can better compete internationally.

Through these efforts supported by the USAID Hub, East African countries have set record-high totals of AGOA exports.

To date, USAID Hub trade and investment support has contributed to 4.07 billion dollars in AGOA exports from the region, with 491.5 million dollars from USAID Hub-supported firms.

The USAID Hub boosts trade and investment with and within East Africa by deepening regional integration, increasing competitiveness of selected agricultural value chains, promoting two-way trade with the U.S. and facilitating investment and technology to drive trade growth.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the friendship between China and Africa is unbreakable after concluding a visit to four African countries on January 07/2019.

The Minister was in Africa on a visit to Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, the Gambia and Senegal from January 2 to 6, according to CGTN.

The Minister said “recently some countries deliberately smeared China-Africa cooperation” however, Africa prefers to continue its relation with China.

“The governments and people of African countries are not bewildered and they have stood up to break the rumors and firmly adhered to the friendly policy toward China.”

Wang said the leaders of the four African countries appreciated China’s cooperation with Africa and thanked China for its support for the development of African countries and the improvement of people’s livelihood.

Speaking of rising unilateralism, Wang said adherence to multilateralism has become a common voice.

“African countries have great expectation on China’s role in defending multilateralism. The four countries are willing to strengthen coordination with China and jointly defend the rules of multilateralism and jointly promote the democratization of international relations” he said.

Wang said his feeling from this Africa trip is that African countries have growing enthusiasm for the Belt and Road Initiative. 

“A large number of China’s key projects in Africa have brought tangible benefits to local people. With the alignment of BRI with African Union’s ‘2063 Agenda’ and the development strategies of all countries, BRI is expected to launch cooperation with higher quality and higher level on the African continent,” Wang noted.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afeworki have officially opened Oumhajir-Humera border on January 07/2019 that connects the two countries.

The opening of the border is anticipated to further enable the people-to-people relation on both sides and facilitate cross-border trade in the long term.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed landed in the Eritrean town of Tessene, accompanied by Chief Administrators of Amhara and Tigray Regional States, it was indicated.

Upon arrival, he was welcomed by President Isaias Afeworki and his delegation.

This opening border in Oumhajir and Gerset on the Eritrean side and to the Humera border area is the continuation of normalizing of Ethio-Eritrea relations, it was learned.

It is to be recalled that Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afeworki signed a peace accord in July 2018, restoring diplomatic and trade relations between the two countries.

Following the peace accord, Ethiopia and Eretria have been enjoying mutual diplomatic relationship.

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