Ethiopia at the UK-Africa Summit in London

21 Jan 2020

Deputy Prime Minister Demeke invites UK businesses to invest in Ethiopia 

On 20th January, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosted the first-ever UK-Africa Investment Summit in London, which brought together leaders from 21 African countries, the UK government, British and African business leaders, institutional investors, international organisations financial institutions and civil society.

The Ethiopian delegation was led by Deputy Prime Minister, H.E. Mr Demeke Mekonnen, and Ethiopian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, H.E. Mr Fesseha Shawel. Representatives from  the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ethiopian Investment Commission and the Trade sections at the Ethiopian Embassy in London and the British Embassy in Addis Ababa, also formed part of the delegation.

Taking place just days before the UK leaves the European Union, the Summit laid the foundations for new lasting partnerships between the UK and African countries based on trade, investment, shared values and mutual interest.

Home to eight of the world’s 15 fastest-growing economies, there is huge demand in Africa for clean, sustainable and innovative investment.

Opening the Summit, Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for the UK to be the ‘investment partner of choice’ for African countries. He went on to confirm that this would form part of the Government’s drive to ensure the continent’s growing demand for investment is met by UK expertise and innovation.

“Africa is the future, and the UK has a huge and active role to play in that future… we are, and we will be, a partner, your partner through thick and thin.”

Recalling his visits to the Continent during his tenure as Foreign Minister, he noted the special and historic links that exist between Africa and the UK. He looked back fondly on his time in Ethiopia, entertaining attendees with the story of how he unwisely challenged Ethiopian running distance legend, Haile Gebrselassie, to a run in the hills above Addis Ababa.

In his closing remarks at the Summit, Deputy Prime Minister Demeke expressed his deep appreciation and thanks to the UK government for organising this “important and timely summit”, adding that he was confident that it would further expand the special relationship between the UK and Africa and create more opportunities for growth.

The Deputy Prime Minister also highlighted the series of political, economic and social reforms that have taken place in Ethiopia since 2018, and encouraged participants to join hands with the people of Ethiopia and Africa and invest in the young continent.

With particular focus on the Economy, the Deputy Prime Minister said:

“Our priorities are to strengthen the role of the private sector in the economy, achieve sustained economic growth through export-led industrialisation, and make Ethiopia an African beacon of prosperity by 2030.

“We have also revised our investment laws to ensure that the domestic market is business-friendly, and opened up key sectors that were previously closed to foreign investment. These include; the telecommunications sector, aviation, energy, logistics, financing leasing and others.

“We want to create an attractive investment environment, empower the private sector, build our production capacity and create dynamic and competitive Ethiopian enterprises.

“We want UK businesses to be among the first to take advantage of these changes.”

Furthermore, the Deputy Prime Minister invited UK Government and businesses to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which will see the establishment of a single continental market for goods and services, covering over fifty countries, with a combined GDP of over $2.3 trillion and a population of 1.2 billion people.

“I ask you to walk with us in this new journey – in encouraging your businesses to invest in Africa, in facilitating our integration into the global economy and in sharing with us the lessons from your own experiences…I invite you to join hands with the people of Ethiopia and Africa.”

International Development Secretary, Alok Sharma, announced a new landmark infrastructure partnership venture that will see the UK partnering with five African countries, including Ethiopia, to mobilise private sector investment in quality, environmentally friendly infrastructure projects.

With reforms underway, a stable and democratic government, improving infrastructure and one of the fastest growing economies in the world, Ethiopia is fast becoming a prime investment destination for UK businesses.

Ethiopia is ready and open for business!


…Highlights on the margins of the UK-Africa Summit

On the side-lines of the UK-Africa Investment Summit, the Deputy Prime Minister met and held discussions with representatives of the UK government including International Development Secretary, Alok Sharma, International Trade Secretary, Elizabeth Truss and Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Andrew Stephenson.

Deputy Prime Minister Demeke with International Development Secretary, Alok Sharma

Discussions focused on Ethiopia’s recently launched Home-Grown Economic Reform Agenda, how to strengthen the trade and investment ties between Ethiopia and the United Kingdom after Brexit, and the upcoming Ethiopian elections.

In discussions with the International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, the Deputy Prime Minister briefed her on the status of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and the progress of Ethiopia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen with International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss

His Excellency also informed her of Ethiopia’s desire to grow its exports through greater investment in agro-processing and the wider manufacturing sector, as well as highlighting the exciting opportunities for UK investors in mining. Noting Brexit, the Secretary of State expressed the UK Government’s commitment to strengthening the trade and investment ties between the two countries and highlighted their interest in signing a trade agreement with Ethiopia in the near future.

In addition to engagements with UK Government officials, the Delegation also engaged in meetings with prominent UK businesses interested in investing in the pharmaceutical, agro-processing, telecommunications and renewable energy sectors in Ethiopia.

Marking the conclusion of the Summit, Deputy Prime Minister Demeke attended a reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen.

The reception was also attended by The Earl and Countess of Wessex, the Princess Royal, African Heads of State and Government and a number of British and African Business leaders.

Deputy Prime Minister Demeke with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace. Picture by Pippa Fowles / No10 Downing Street

According to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Prince William expressed an interest in visiting Ethiopia in discussions held at the reception.

…Pre-Summit Manufacturing Forum

In the lead up to the UK-Africa Summit, a Manufacturing Investment Forum was also held on 16th and 17th January, with representatives of the Ethiopian Investment Commission and the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency taking part.

Led by the Deputy Investment Commissioner, Mr Anteneh Alemu, the team successfully promoted the opportunities in manufacturing offered by Ethiopia to over 30 UK businesses.

Additionally, Senior Director of Agribusiness and Markets Vertical at ATA, Mr Mirafe Gebriel, participated in a panel discussion on agro-processing, presenting Ethiopia’s vast investment potential in the area.

Ethiopia at the UK-Africa Investment Summit

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