Unilever (UNA), the world's second-biggest consumer-products maker, plans to open a manufacturing plant in Ethiopia during the next year, according to Bloomberg News. Unilever is renting premises for a plant in the Chinese-built Eastern Industry Zone in Dukem, near Addis Ababa.
Unilever, which sees Ethiopia as a growing market, is planning to produce fabric-cleaning soaps before moving into food. Officials were quoted as saying Unilever had taken a long-term investment decision in Ethiopia "because of the demography, broad-based growth and opportunity to create a genuinely inclusive and sustainable business model from scratch."
According to the International Monetary Fund, Ethiopia's economy has been growing at an average of 9.3 percent for the past four years, and is projected to expand by 8% this fiscal year. The company plans to build a "comprehensive consumer-goods manufacturing business" in Ethiopia, which will source from Ethiopian suppliers, and to devote efforts to local Ethiopian companies to act as distributors. It will focus on sales in Ethiopia but later expects to expand these to neighbors including South Sudan and Somali.