Ethiopian officials are keeping a watchful eye on neighboring countries’ efforts to attract foreign investments away from Ethiopia.
The deputy commissioner of the Ethiopian Investment Commission, Daniel Teressa, spoke about the potential for Kenya and Uganda to “snatch” investors from Ethiopia during a hearing at the House of People’s Representatives earlier this week.
The discussion was sparked by concerns raised by members of parliament about companies leaving the Eastern Industry Zone.
While the deputy commissioner acknowledged some companies have moved out of the park, he disputed the extent of the exodus and emphasized the government’s commitment to creating a conducive business environment.
During the hearing, the MPs presented an investigation report claiming that 51 foreign investors had left Ethiopia’s Eastern Industry Zone due to corruption and bureaucratic hurdles.
However, the deputy commissioner disputed the findings.
He emphasized that his office would have been aware of such departures and companies must follow proper procedures, which involves several steps at the Ministries of Finance and Revenue.
“It is a huge number of companies to leave. A few might have relocated to other areas, but 51 companies didn’t leave the country,” he said.
Despite this, Daniel warned the neighboring countries and the companies themselves may engage in counter-promotional activities spreading false information to promote their own interests.
“Most of the time, neighboring countries like Kenya and Uganda could have the desire to snatch the companies that could be leaving Ethiopia,” he said. “This happens by countering our promotional activities, with the involving bodies giving false information to protect their own interest.”
Attempts to obtain further information from the Commission were unsuccessful.
Several industry zones experienced challenges in the past, including factory shutdowns when the US delisted Ethiopia from countries that are eligible to enjoy tariff privileges under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
Daniel said “not more than five companies” have shut down their factories even during the AGOA delisting period. “A few might have downsized and reduced their production,” he added. s