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Dining in piccola roma
From left: Yemane Gebreab, Advisor to the President of Eritrea, Hailemariam Dessalegn, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia and his wife, Roman Tesfaye, at a gala dinner that was hosted by Ethiopian Airlines at Palace Hotel, Asmara where senior Eritrean government officials were in attendance.

Dining in piccola roma

Ethiopian investors explore business opportunities in Eritrea

- Eritrean Airlines to launch flights to Addis Ababa

Following the landmark peace declaration between Ethiopia and Eritrea, Ethiopian inventors are exploring business opportunities in Eritrea.

Ethiopian businesspeople did not want to waste time. They have rather decided to seize the window of opportunity heralded by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) and President of Eritrea, Isaias Afewerki, and board the historic first flight of Ethiopian Airlines on July 18, 2018 to meet their counterparts in Asmara, Eritrea.

More than 50 Ethiopian businesspeople were part of the business trip organized by WAFA Marketing that left to Asmara on Wednesday. Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association (ECCSA) was also part of the Ethiopian business delegation. Assefa Gebreselassie, vice president of the ECCSA, told The Reporter that they are trying to reconnect with the Eritrean Chamber of Commerce. “We are trying to establish a working relationship. We want to bring Ethiopian business delegation to Asmara and we also want them to visit Addis Ababa,” Assefa said.

The Ethiopian business delegation on Thursday visited the Eritrean Chamber of Commerce and they agreed to forge a new business partnership. Another business delegation led by the ECCSA will visit Asmara on July 30. Assefa said the two chambers will sign a memorandum of understanding that will enable them to work together. “There are number of things that we can do together. We are trying to reestablish the missing trade ties in the last twenty years. There is the border trade. We are going to start using the Port of Assab. And the chambers are influential institutions to foster trade relations between the two countries,” Assefa said.

The Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce is currently registering Ethiopian businesses that have shown keen interest to visit Asmara. The Ethiopian business delegation on Thursday visited the Eritrean coastal town of Massawa.

Awad Mohammed, owner of Adika Tour and Travel PLC, is one of the businesspeople who traveled to Asmara with the Ethiopian business delegation. Awad told The Reporter that there seems to be an enormous business opportunity in Eritrea. “There could be a possibility that Eritrean tourist destinations could be part of our northern tour package.”

Tewodros Yeshiwas, CEO and founder of Gomeju Oil Ethiopia, is also eyeing business opportunities in Eritrea. “We are looking at the possibility that we can build gas stations in Eritrea. We have an interest in building a gas station in Assab,” he told The Reporter.  

Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde Gebremriam said that the main objective of his airline is to reconnect the people of Ethiopia and Eritrea. “We will not only connect Asmara and Eritrea but we will connect Eritrea with our vast network of 114 international destinations in North America, Europe, Middle East and Asia. Now Eritrea is connected to the world,” Tewolde said.

Tewolde has started talks with the management of Eritrean Airlines. He had a brief discussion with the CEO of Eritrean Airlines, Nasreddin Ibrahim, about the cooperation the two airlines will forge. Nasreddin told The Reporter that Eritrean Airlines want to closely work with Ethiopian Airlines in route development and training. “We want to establish a strong cooperation with Ethiopian Airlines. We will discuss the possibilities that we can work together. We may even sign code share agreement.”

However, Tewolde said that it was too early to speak about stake acquisition on Eritrean Airlines. “There are so many ways we can cooperate with our Eritrean brothers. We have so much to offer. Eventually we can establish strategic partnership,” he told The Reporter.

Eritrean diaspora from the US and Europe have already began transiting via Addis Ababa to Asmara aboard Ethiopian Airlines daily flights.

Hailemariam Dessalegn, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, who was the guest of honor of Ethiopian Airlines first historic flight to Asmara, said that Ethiopia and Eritrea should work hard to compensate the lost times. “I knew that this golden day would come,” Hailemariam said.

Eritrea’s Permanent Representative to the African Union, Araya Desta, said that the two governments have agreed to forget their ugly past. Ambassador Araya said his government is now committed to re-boost friendly ties with Ethiopia. “Families were cut off for the past twenty years. Now the hurdles are over. Peace, love, cooperation and development will flourish,” he said.

In a related news, the Eritrean national airline is under preparation to launch flights to Addis Ababa. Eritrean Airlines CEO, Nasreddin Ibharhim, told The Reporter that his airline will launch Asmara-Addis Ababa flight as of August 1, 2018. The airline will serve the trice weekly flight with Boeing B737-300 aircraft. Nasreddin said that the airline will also start a twice weekly flight from Assab to Addis Ababa as of September 1.