ADDIS ABABA, 5 March 2018 – The President of Ethiopia, Mulatu Teshome, today encouraged the international business community and development partners “not to miss the boat” when it comes to investing in one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, setting the tone at the opening of Ethiopia’s Second International Agro-Industry Investment Forum (AIFE 2018). Taking place from 5-8 March in Addis Ababa, the event is expected to gather around 3000 participants from around the world.
Organized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Government of Ethiopia, AIFE 2018 aims to mobilize private investment in light manufacturing, with a particular focus on sectors with high growth potential, namely agro-processing, textiles and garments, and leather. In Ethiopia, around 80% of the country’s population depends on agriculture for their livelihoods.
“This Forum is an excellent platform for all stakeholders, especially the private sector, to make a first-hand assessment of the status of the economy, unfolding business and investment opportunities and forge partnerships and linkages that set you on a long and sustained profitable venture for years to come,” said President Teshome.
The Forum presents specific investment opportunities and investment incentive regimes, and has a strong focus on networking, including B2B and B2G meetings, as well as an exhibition for national and international companies and field visits to industrial infrastructure sites.
“There are ample opportunities in Ethiopia. Everywhere you look there are interesting investment options opening up,” said Erica van Schaik, Managing Director of Velocity Apparelz Companies Plc., Ethiopia. Velocity initially invested USD 50 million in Ethiopia and is currently expanding by developing a sustainable and service-oriented private industrial park worth USD 200 million.
Zemedeneh Negatu, Global Chairman of the Fairfax Africa Fund, noted that “one of our main objectives for participating at the Forum is to identify potential investment partners with local and international companies. We always seek qualified partners who have the capacity to run the companies we invest in. That’s why partnerships are very important for us.”
UNIDO partners with the Government of Ethiopia on the Programme for Country Partnership (PCP), a multi-stakeholder partnership model launched in 2014 to support the country in achieving its industrial development goals. The Programme’s priority initiatives include the development of Integrated Agro-Industrial Parks and of an industrial park focused on the leather industry – Modjo Leather City – which is supported by the European Investment Bank.
“Together, through the PCP, we are supporting the government to further develop key industrial sectors with a strong emphasis on creating an enabling environment for the private sector to grow,” said UNIDO Director General LI Yong at the opening of the Forum. “This also means important opportunities for young people to find skilled jobs and learn how to run their own businesses to become the entrepreneurs of the future.”
Two business networking side events are being organized during the Forum focusing on strengthening business partnerships with the Chinese and Italian business sectors, respectively.
Several agreements are to be signed on the sidelines of the event. UNIDO and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Mechanization Sciences (CAAMS) are signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote agro-industry development and technology transfer, including in PCP countries. The Government of Ethiopia is also signing an agreement with the China Africa Trade Investment Association and with three of its member companies to facilitate Chinese investment in Ethiopia, as well as a MoU with Buhler Limited, the Ethiopian Millers’ Association and the African Milling School.
“Going forward, there is no shred of doubt that with the concerted effort of our government, partners, and the growing private sector, led by successfully proven development strategies, we will be able to register more laudable achievements in our effort to make the transition from an agrarian to an industrial economy,” said President Teshome. “An industrial economy that is robust enough, inclusive and sustainable, and leaves no one behind.”
Ahmed Abtew, Ethiopia’s Minister of Industry, added that “The Government of Ethiopia and partners have a strong desire to expand the reach and scope of this platform into a continent-wide event. I assure you that my ministry will spare no effort in making this a reality and will contribute in whatever modest way to strengthen the visibility of our continent in global business and investment and more specifically to ensure the success of the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa.”
The event is organized in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).