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Delegates meeting Fitsum Arega at Sheraton Addis Hotel

UK-led investors explore opportunities in Ethiopia

A team of 25 business delegates led by UK’s Trade Commissioner, Emma—Wade Smith, have met and discussed with more than seven-line ministries and government agencies looking to set foot in the newly rebranded Ethiopia, as the administration of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) introduces a wide raging of economic reforms including partial privatization of some of the biggest State Owned Enterprises (SoE) in Ethiopia.

Organized by InvestAfrica, a London based business and investment platform providing companies and investors with information and exposure to business opportunities across the Africa; the delegation incorporated big business players in the West and is the first time for most of these companies to come to Ethiopia.

The delegation met with Fitusm Arega, who has just moved back to his position as head of the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC)after serving as the PM’s chief of staff discussing the ABCs of investing in Ethiopia with the Commissioner and other EIC associates.

Apart from EIC, however, the delegates were able to gain unfettered access to some seven major ministries—Finance; Science and Higher education: Transport; Mines and Petroleum; Water, Irrigation and Energy; including the President of the Republic—Sahle Work Zewde.

The delegates, all in all, received a short induction course on investing in Ethiopia which at least four have taken to heart and hence, deciding to follow up their visits with real investment.

“At least three of these companies which I am not willing to disclose have already decided to take things further and send their team next month,” Zemedeneh Nigatu, Global Chairman of Fairfax African Fund, told The Reporter latter in the week.

“Infrastructure, logistics and mining were some of the sectors that particularly piqued the interest of investors Zemedeneh said further announcing that “three infrastructure investors have already decided to commit to an investment portfolio in Ethiopia.” “You can quote me on this; at least four of these companies would invest in Ethiopia in the next 7 months,” he added.

For Zemedeneh, the newly announced privatization by the administration of the PM is really changing the image of Ethiopia among the traditionally suspicious multinational companies from the western hemisphere. Zemedeneh says that it is very critical for Ethiopia to balance the level of investment capital coming from the East and West.

“We have been promoting investment opportunities in Ethiopia to European and American Companies but the response has not been as encouraging. However, the recent reforms have caught the attention of the western investors,” he told The Reporter.

“Do not get me wrong, the investment from the East and Gulf states has worked out well for Ethiopia and the country still needs to attract investors from those regions. But, instead of absolute reliance, we need to diversify our investment partners and tap into the investment capital in west,” Zemedeneh concluded.

Including global giants like Shell Oil, companies such as Meridiam, De La Rue, Fieldstone Investment, and others were part of this investment delegation; while infrastructure investors such as Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), multilateral investment fund founded in Nigeria, and Japan Bank of International Cooperation were also part of the investors’ team that visited Ethiopia.