Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn on Thursday laid a cornerstone for the first of the four integrated agro processing industrial parks in Bure town, Amhara Regional State, which the government is poised to build with an out lay of 1.5 billion dollars in four regional states.
Senior officials of the Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Trade and the Amhara Regional State attended the ground breaking ceremony. The government is set to build four integrated agro processing industrial parks in the Amhara, Tigray, Oromia and Southern regional states with an estimated investment of 1.5 billion dollars. Private firms engaged in the processing of chicken, beef, honey, dairy products, cereals, fruits and vegetables and coffee are expected to invest in the industrial zones.
The Bure Integrated Agro Processing Industrial Park lies on 260.35 hectares plot of land. Fruits and vegetables, cereals and meat processing companies are expected to join the first agro processing park. The industrial park will have 60 large or 120 mid-size processing plants. Roads, water, electric, telecom, sewerage system infrastructure will be built. Office buildings, residential houses, kindergarten and school, will be constructed. The Ethiopian Investment Commission will have a one stop window service, banks and insurances, maritime and customs, transport and logistics companies will open offices in the Indusial Park. Quality inspection laboratory service will also be available in the park.
The Bure Industrial Park is expected to produce 558,000 tons of various agricultural products worth 14 billion birr yearly. State minister of Industry Mebrahtu Meles (PhD) told The Reporter that the park would open 400,000 direct jobs and 200,000 indirect jobs.
Mebratu said criteria for companies that would invest in the agro processing park will be notified to the public as of March 2017. Companies are expected to join the park starting from September 2017. “We will have a strong media campaign,” he said.
Mebratu told The Reporter that regional states have established industrial zones development corporations that would build the integrated agro processing industrial parks. Local contractors will construct the agro processing industrial parks. According to Mebratu, the contractors have started mobilization.
The government has identified 17 locations where integrated agro processing industrial parks will be built. As a pilot project the first four will be built in the Amhara, Tigray, Oromia and Southern regional states in consultation with developers. Cornerstones will soon be laid for more agro processing industrial zones in Baker, Western Tigray, Bulbula Zewai, East Central Oromia and Yirgalem Eastern Southern Regional State.
The Baker Integrated Agro Processing Industrial Park will produce 700,000 tons of various products with a total value of 18 billion birr. The Bulbula industrial park will produce 591,000 tons of products valued at 14 billion birr and the Yirgalem Park will produce 233,000 tons of products valued at six billion birr.
Each industrial zone is expected to create 419,000 direct jobs and 210,000 indirect jobs. Mebratu told The Reporterthat the investment cost would be covered by the government and loans from local and foreign banks. Last week officials of the Ministry of Industry held discussions with the European Union and European Investment Bank here in Addis Ababa.
The Ministry of Industry in collaboration with UNIDO and WFP conducted a feasibility study on the establishment of the integrated agro processing industrial parks. An Indian firm, Mahindara, has conducted a detailed design work. The designs are being evaluated by the Ministry of Industry, UNIDO and the United Nations Project Office.
Mebratu said that since Ethiopia does not have the capacity to process agricultural products, it is exporting raw materials with cheap prices. “Some countries buy our products process them and send it back to us. We are spending the hard earned foreign currency to import processed food items. It is not because we do not have the agricultural products but we did not build the required infrastructure to process the agricultural products.”
Mebratu called on local and foreign investors to invest in the planned integrated agro processing industrial parks. “From now on, it would be difficult to accommodate investors in disintegrated lands. Land is a scarce resource. Dealing with land requests and other services is a waste of time and resource both for the government and the investors. So our message is loud and clear – we urge local and foreign investors to join the industrial parks under development,” Mebratu said.
In a related news, Ethiopian Airlines called upon local investors to supply it with food and beverages for its catering center. At a consultative meeting held on Tuesday at Elilly Hotel, managing director of Ethiopian Catering, Aklilu Habtu, said that Ethiopian Airlines annually spends 100 million dollars on the imports of raw materials for the production of food and beverages for its in-flight catering services. Aklilu said Ethiopian Catering buys 600 food and beverage items and 120 of those are locally sourced. Fifty five local companies are working with Ethiopian Catering. “Only ten percent of the required products are supplied by local companies. We intend to buy 80 percent of the required products from local companies,” Aklilu said.
Aklilu said Ethiopian Catering spends more than one million dollars to import plastic cups, forks and knives, which can be manufactured locally. “You need to meet our quality requirements and you need to be consistent and you also have to offer competitive prices.”
Aklilu invited local companies engaged in poultry, beef, diary, jam and honey production to partner with his company. Mineral water and beverage bottlers are also encouraged to supply their products to Ethiopian Catering.
Ethiopian Catering recently inaugurated a state-of-the-art catering center with the capacity to produce 100,000 meals per day.