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French firm to aide Ethiopia on WTO accession

  • French agency extends more funds to Ethiopia 

DMI Associates, a prominent legal consultancy firm based in Lyon, France, has been approached to assist the Ethiopian Government on its long overdue World Trade Organization (WTO) accession process and on the reform of the customs management system.

A small group of French firms from Lyon Metropolitan city including DMI Associates were in town last week to meet business counterparts and government officials. Among which was DMI Associates, a firm currently looking to aid the Government of Ethiopia on its belated WTO accession process.

Francois Theoleyre, CEO of DMI Associates, told The Reporter that his firm is in talks with the government to render its consultancy services for Ethiopia’s WTO accession team. In addition to that, DMI Associates is also working to assist the government in reforming the customs management system. However, he declined to give any specifics on the grounds that the contracts have not been signed yet.

The CEO also said that DMI Associates would open a representative office in the capital in the foreseeable future. Accordingly, DMI runs sister companies in China, Benin, Kazakhstan and Latvia.

This is not the first trip to Addis for representatives of Lyon Metropolitan business community. The business group was here on a similar mission two years ago. This time around the business group incorporated seven companies led by Max Vincent, representative of the Lyon Metropolis Mayor.

In a related news, the French Development Agency (AFD) has announced the approval of the disbursement of loans for both private and public run projects in Ethiopia. According to Christian Yoka, regional director of the agency covering Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea, AFD has recently started disbursing the 80.5 million euros funding it has extended to the Addis Ababa Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) in 2014. The BRT runs for 16km.

A French consulting firm has been hired and the project is about to commence this year, Yoka said. Yoka also noted that BRT compliments and to some extent will serve as a feeder to the light railway transit system already in place. When the BRT is finalized, Yoka hopes that Ethiopia will perhaps to be the first country in Africa to have this mass transport system in place. Denis Fuentes, urban and regional mobility unit manager at Safege Consulting Engineers—a company that has been contracted to oversee the construction of BRT—said that the bid document for the construction of the BRT will be ready in two months time and bid will be floated for international contractors.

Another 70 million euros in loan has also been disbursed to relocate the existing old abattoir and equip them with a new state-of-the-art technology. The project went through with a three years of feasibility studies. Yoka recalled Ethiopian is also among the recipients of a loan from the French agency for the expansion of the recently inaugurated aviation academy in order of 30 million euros. The expansions of the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport passenger terminal is also another project that benefited from a loan from the agency. ADF financed 70 million euros out of the total cost of 345 million dollars for the entire project.

In addition to the public sector run projects, AFD has extending its funding to the French-based Accor Group, one of the biggest players in the hospitality business worldwide, which recently signed a contract with Enyi General Business PLC for construction of a 330-room Pullman Hotel in Addis Ababa. Pullman is one of the well-known up-scale Accor brands across the world. Accor Group has secured a 20 million dollars loan from the French agency.

Operating since 1993 in Ethiopia, AFD has been involved in availing finances mostly to the public sectors. Back in 2013, AFD provided two separate sovereign loans to the Ethiopia government. The two loans are concessional financing by nature and totaled 70 millioneuros. The 50 million was earmarked to finance the construction of high-voltage transmission lines (400kv and 230kv) and substations in key areas of industrial development near Addis Ababa. The rest 20 million will also be used for the construction of new sanitary landfill (at Sandafa 40kms from Addis Ababa) and the associated solid waste management infrastructure that includes access roads and transfer stations.

AFD has co-financed the Ashegoda wind farm which is located near Mekele, capital city of the Tigray Regional Government, where the wind farm generates 120MW.

Novafrica Developments, one of the French firms specialized in consulting has teamed up with Tinsae International Business Enterprise, a local private business engaged mostly in the import-export business, has been behind the events which celebrated the sisterly relationships between Lyon City and Addis Ababa.