Social unrest and the Coronavirus pandemic block the construction of a USD 3.7 billion fertilizer production plant in Dire Dawa city, The Reporter has learnt.
According to Abdelselam Ahmed, Dire Dawa City Administration Council Deputy Speaker of the House, the prominent Moroccan company OCP group had received a 100 hectare plot of land to build a fertilizer production company in Dire Dawa in two phases.
Despite sincere efforts to start the project with the investors, the social unrest which rocked different parts of the country prior to PM Abiy’s rise to power hindered activities. Abdelselam said that even though the project had shown some progress after PM Abiy assumed power, COVID-19 has reverted back the normal track of events and forced the project to be halted.
Furthermore, the Deputy Speaker of the House told The Reporter that five months ago, the Ambassador of France to Ethiopia visited Dire Dawa and expressed his government’s commitment to support such massive investments. However, COVID protocols have restricted the materialization of such kinds of efforts.
The Group has hired a temporary administrative manager to handle issues with the administrative council and start implementation of the project as soon as the situation clears.
The project is thought to be a great advantage to both the city and the company since ample potash will be transported from Dallol to Dire Dawa via the railway route.
Abdelselam underlined that the city administration had to exert all sorts of efforts to make such mega projects viable and a lot is expected from both the City Administration and the federal government to bring back the investors.
Four years ago, King Mohammed of Morocco visited Ethiopia and inked numerous bilateral trade and business agreements with the Ethiopian government amounting to USD 3.7 billion. It can be recalled that, back in 2016, the state-owned leading phosphate exporter, the OCP Group, inked an agreement with the Ethiopian government to build a USD 3.7 billion fertilizer plant in Dire Dawa City. The Moroccan government owns 95 percent of the company.