Prime Minister Hailemariam said today that Kenya and Ethiopia have huge potential with their youthful populations and it was time to engage them especially in the focus of intensive industrial development to compete in the global market.
The Prime Minister made the remark while addressing members of the Kenyan Business community at a Nairobi hotel for a breakfast meeting. The Prime Minister noted that the major focus for development should cover textiles, agricultural products and food production as well as adding value by establishing industries within their two countries instead of relying on others to produce what was needed. "We should invest in value addition so that instead of importing edible oil from Malaysia, for example, we should grow palm oil. We have the land to do so", Hailemariam said.
The Prime Minister said priority should be given to areas of input production especially in seeds and fertilizers for farmers and for horticulture and floriculture growers since these create jobs. It is time, he said, for East African Governments to invest in building equipment for themselves instead of importing. Ethiopia, he noted, was now in the process of building equipment and has started to assemble machinery. It will soon start to produce such equipment and set up assembly plants.
The Prime Minister also referred to the hospitality industry as a priority area, stressing the need for a number of five star hotels. At the same time, he added, there must be proper incentive packages for investors. "We have a lot of land so we encourage investors to bring in infrastructure, build complexes and invest but not", he said, "purchase our land". He said that not everything should be privatized.
The Prime Minister also noted the importance of the challenge of the energy sector in Africa. Governments, he said, should invest in it and take risks. Governments needed to support manufacturers, help with energy costs and encourage investors to invest in manufacturing industries.