The outlook for Ethiopia remains positive, Ethiopian Minister Arkebe Oqubay, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister, has said. The minister was speaking during the ‘Doing Business in Ethiopia Seminar’ that was organised by the Netherlands-African Business Council on behalf of the Ethiopian Embassy in Brussels and the Common Fund for Commodities.
The Ethiopian delegation, led by Dr. Oqubay, informed the 70 participants of the seminar about recent developments in the Ethiopia, both economically and socially. Dr. Oqubay recommended Dutch companies to set up enterprises at the Hawassa Industrial Park. “In 2025 we want to be the largest manufacturing hub in Africa. We have to create millions of jobs for our fast-growing population,” said Dr. Oqubay.
The minister lauded the recent cooperation between The Netherlands and Ethiopia. “Together with the Dutch, we have built a horticulture sector within ten years,” Mr Oqubay said. “We want to capitalize on this and we are inviting more companies to invest in horticulture in Ethiopia.”
The Ethiopian Government is on an international investment drive. Before their visit to The Netherlands, trade delegations visited Hong Kong and the United Kingdom. This drive comes roughly half a year after a period of social unrest that took place in Ethiopia in September and October, during which dissenting groups took to the streets and attacked foreign firms, including six Dutch flower farms.
Minister Oqubay gave his view of the situation. “The expectance of the youth is high,” he said, referring to the protestors. Admitting that “democracy is a major challenge,” the minister asked for patience, saying that Western countries have experimented with democracy for hundreds of years, compared to Ethiopia that saw its first constitution only in 1995. “I firmly believe that an unfortunate incident like this won’t happen again,” Dr. Oqubay assured, adding that “the affected farms have received a certain compensation.”
Tax holidays for flower firms
The Ethiopian delegation promotes four different regions that have been earmarked for large-scale horticultural activity: the Alage, Bahir Dar, Arbaminch and Hawassa Hubs. The total size of the areas ranges from 900 to 2.500 hectares of land. In the Bahir Dar region, the government promises that land will be provided free for lease for 30 years, while other incentives for Horticulture hubs include Zero tax on export and an exemption from income tax for 8 to 10 years. NABC is ready to continue working with the Ethiopian Embassy and is considering an outgoing trade mission to the country.