Officials at the Ministry of Industry (MoI) are assessing damages sustained by manufacturing industries in Tigray Regional State during the two-year war in the northern part of the country.
The assessment reports were delivered by a team of experts led by the advisor to the minister of industry, Melaku Alebel, and comprised of several sectoral institutions under the MoI.
The team was sent to Tigray a week ago. A zero-draft document is also being prepared on how to support the damaged industries.
“We are examining the preliminary reports the team brought from Tigray,” Hassen Mohammad, state minister of industry, told The Reporter.
The Ministry had lost updates on the status of industries in the region since the war broke out in November 2020 and ended two months ago, after the Pretoria peace agreement was signed between the federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
Officials at the Ministry still have no contact with the Tigray regional industry bureau since it was not reorganized after the war. As a result, the ministry is communicating directly with investors.
There were 255 large and medium manufacturing industries in Tigray, according to a 2018 Central Statistics Agency (CSA) survey report. 40 percent are in Addis Ababa.
Several industries, including Almeda Textile, Mesfin Industrial Engineering, Messebo Cement, Adigrat Medicine Factory, Raya Brewery, Industrial Parks, and other significant industries, were reportedly affected by the war. Several foreign investors were also demanding the ministry provide compensations, loan rescheduling, and insurance coverage, among others.
Some of the industries have been damaged, others looted, and some are still intact.
“We will decide what kind of support the industries need after thoroughly evaluating the preliminary report from the team,” Hassen said. “However, the government has made the decision that all industries must resume operations immediately. Some of the industries need finance, while others need raw materials, and we are ready to provide them.”
A national and steering committee led by Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen is in charge of the effort to rebuild war-damaged industries, with efforts already underway in Amhara and Afar regional states.
Hassen says recovering the damaged industries immediately is crucial to addressing the trade imbalance the country is facing. “Our plan is to fully utilize the domestic manufacturing industry and substitute imports.”
The Ministry managed to substitute import items worth USD 907 million in the past six months, according to the state minister. These items include military uniforms and other locally manufactured items. On the other hand, the Ministry planned to increase export revenue to USD five billion this year, which would still be three times lower than imports.
The MoI has also finalized the preparation of a new industry policy. Several studies are being conducted, and new laws are in the pipeline, in a bid to boost the domestic manufacturing industry in the face of depleting foreign currency to maintain import demand, Hassen says.