US Chargé d’ Affaires calls on government to ease internet, mobile access for businesses
-American Chamber of Commerce launches operation
The US Chargé d’ Affaires in Ethiopia, Peter Vrooman, called on the Government of Ethiopia to provide uninterrupted internet and mobile access to businesses that operate in Ethiopia.
Launching the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Ethiopia, Vrooman said that continued access to the internet and mobile data are key requirements for all companies and also for the international financial institutions that evaluate foreign projects in Ethiopia.
Avoiding mentioning the current internet shutdown directly in his inaugural speech, the Chargé d’ Affaires instead pointed out that Ethiopia should reconsider the vitality of internet infrastructure for the operations of companies. Previously, the US has been vocal to denounce the government’s measure as pure violation of democratic rights. The US has also extended the travel warnings it has previously issued cognitive to the internet shutdown measures.
“In business, time is money, which means businesses need to be able to communicate in real time. Having a strong attractive investment climate requires consistent and reliable communications. Internet and mobile data access are considered basic infrastructure that powers businesses”, Vrooman said.
The Chargé d’ Affaires said that protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) needs to be respected “not only for the sake of US businesses but for the sake of all businesses”. He also pinpointed some of the irregularities in the country. Vrooman said that there should be a level playing field for both state run and private sector businesses. Accordingly, “the private sector needs a level playing field that allows fair competition with state-owned enterprises”, he said. That way, Vroomna argues Ethiopia can achieve steady and sustainable economic growth via creating transparent system that listens and addresses the concerns of the private sector.
The AmCham under such spotlight is noted to be gearing towards having both Ethiopian and US companies under its membership. Launched on Tuesday, AmCham said it will accept members that qualify. According to Daniel Hailu, Chief Operating Officer of AmCham Ethiopia, American companies with branches, agents or representative offices in Ethiopia, represented by designates can be considered to be part of the chamber. Ethiopian companies or individuals who have the necessary business or professional relationships with the US, represented by delegates can also partake. The likes of such conditions according to the AmCham are necessary to be fulfilled by the regular members, the officials said.