14 January 2014

Ethiopia-Japan Business Meeting

In the second session of the meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, the leaders were joined by business leaders of Japanese companies and a number of Ethiopian company chief executives. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe opening the meeting emphasizing that " Japan will continue to support Ethiopia's development both at government and private sector level" adding that it was hugely significant to meet "to share Japan's development experience to help Ethiopia propel itself as a regional growth engine" .

The representative of KEIDANREN, Japan's Business Federation for Sub-Saharan Africa highlighted Ethiopia's rapid economic development and underlined the desire of Japanese companies to be part of it. A representative of Japanese universities stressed the primacy that Japan accords to human development. He said "Africa is a treasure box of natural resources; what it needs to unlock this potential is human capacity development."

He added that Japan owed its miraculous growth to human capital development as it wasn't blessed with the riches of natural resources. He noted that Japanese academic institutions wanted to work with Ethiopian academia through the Abe Initiative. This aims to train 1000 African youths within five years. Mr. Kobayshi, representative of the Mistubishi Company which has had offices in Ethiopia for over fifty four years, related the story of Mitsubishi's partnership with Ethiopia and its current plans to introduce MRJ Aircraft to Ethiopian Airlines. Prime Minister Hailemariam, referring to the soaring cost of labor in East Asia, urged Japanese investors to invest in Ethiopia where production costs were lower.

This, he said, would allow them to retain their global competitiveness. He said Ethiopia was a country with a huge youth population, which if properly trained in necessary skills, would be a demographic dividend to development. He added that "Japan's investment was at a minimal level compared to other South Asian investments", but he expected Prime Minister Abe's visit would provide a turnaround in the levels of investment in Ethiopia.

Talking about Ethiopia's Kaizen 'Institute, Prime Minister Hailemariam said Ethiopia would like to make this a pioneer institution for Africa. Mulu Solomon, Head of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce, also spoke of the prevailing investment regime and invited Japanese investors to invest in Ethiopia on their own or through joint ownership with Ethiopian investors. Tadios Getachew, owner and manager of Kuriftu Resorts said Ethiopia's tourism sector was growing by 13% annually and he invited Japanese investors to take advantage of the tourist sector. Ethiopia and Japan have now signed an exchange of notes for the creation of an air service agreement that will enable Ethiopian Airlines to directly fly to Narita International Airport in Tokyo.

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