UK-Ethiopia Trade and Investment Forum affirms Ethiopia is open for Business
On 16th October, more than 200 delegates comprising members of parliament, analysts, investors, the media and others, gathered at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London for the 2018 edition of the UK-Ethiopia Trade and Investment Forum.
The Forum, jointly organised by the Embassy, Developing Markets Associates (DMA) and WAFA Marketing and Promotions, was aimed at boosting bilateral trade between Ethiopia and the UK, and provided an opportunity for delegates to discover how the new Ethiopian government is opening doors to attract more investors and explore trading opportunities.
H.E. Dr Arkebe Oqubay, the Prime Minister’s special economic advisor, led a delegation from Ethiopia which included officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as more than 30 private companies.
Kicking off the forum was UK’s Minister for Africa, Ms Harriet Baldwin MP, who commended the recent economic reforms under Prime Minister Abiy and highlighted the huge investment potential for UK businesses in the fast-growing Ethiopian economy.
As a former investor, she appreciated that ‘first movers’ make the greatest returns, taking advantage of opportunities and capitalising on them.
Trade between Ethiopia and the UK has been steadily growing over the last few years. In 2017 alone, total trade in goods and services between the two countries grew by 80%, a visible example of the success of the Ethiopian economy.
And with the launching of direct flights between Addis Ababa and Manchester on 11th December, Ethiopian Airlines will help open up the North of England, not only to the rest of the African continent, but also to the rest of the world, she said.
In his keynote address, H.E. Ambassador Hailemichael Aberra Afework said the Forum was being held at an opportune moment when the new Ethiopian government is further committed to opening up the economy and engaged in exploring trade and investment opportunities.
He said the Embassy in London is committed to facilitating and supporting investors in every way possible.
In his address, H.E Dr Arkebe Oqubay highlighted the recent and continuing reforms which will boost investment and improve the business climate. He also outlined Ethiopia’s ambition to focus on high-quality investment and to become the leading manufacturing hub in Africa. A 10-year plan will see Ethiopia become the leading manufacturing hub in Africa by 2025, with industrial parks which are unique centres of excellence. Dr Arkebe is the driving force behind Ethiopia’s industrialisation policy, which aims to increase the number of operational industrial parks to 30 by 2025.
We also heard from the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ethiopia & Djibouti, Mr Laurence Robertson MP, as well as the British Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy for Ethiopia, Mr Jeremy Lefroy MP, on the positive steps the UK and Ethiopia have been taking to promote bilateral trade.
The Forum was also an opportunity for UK businesses that have already established themselves in Ethiopia, to showcase their ventures and discuss the investment climate in Ethiopia.
We got to listen to companies such as asset management firm, 54 Capital, which has invested $120 million over the last four years in the pharmaceutical and beverage industries and are looking to invest more over the next five years.
Leading leather manufacturer, Pittards, has invested heavily in Ethiopia’s leather sector since 2009, where they make premium leather gloves, bags and footwear. The majority of their products are premium and are shipped worldwide – most pro-golfers and baseball players wear gloves manufactured by Pittards – the majority comes from Ethiopia.
Mining company, KEFI Minerals has invested $60 million in their flagship Tulu Kapi project in western Ethiopia.
Tulu Moye Geothermal, are planning a £1.5 billion investment to generate 520 MW of geothermal over 4 phases in the coming 8 years.
On the side-lines of the Forum, delegates networked with more than 30 Ethiopian companies who had come to showcase their businesses, as well as with officials from the Ministry.
In closing, head of delegation H.E. Arkebe Oqubay seized the moment to hail the historic appointment of female ministers into the cabinet and reiterated the Government’s commitment to improving performance and reforms and its continuing focus on improving the economy and business climate. Ethiopia is ready and open for business, he said.
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