6 February 2016

Ethiopia: Propelling Investment Opportunities

Photo: Corporate Council on Africa
The Corporate Council on Africa's U.S.-Africa Business Summit brought together more than 1400 participants from 47 countries to discuss private sector trade and investment opportunities.

Recently, Addis Ababa hosted the United States-Africa Business Summit, an important move towards strengthening the United States' business and investment engagement in Africa.

The Summit was attended by government officials, entrepreneurs, investors, policy-makers and managers drawn from Africa, US, China and Turkey among many other invited guests and delegates.

The presence and participation of these delegations was perfectly compulsory to the success of this initiatory business and investment ties established within the two continents.

The Summit stands for a platform to create round-table discussions with the American business community, and African and American leaders on topics such as investor risk concerns as well as good opportunities.

These types of discussions deepen their business partnerships on the basis of mutual trust and shared values. As this event leads to a series of business to business relationships, government bodies should continue their efforts to bridge the information gap to spur new trade and investment opportunities.

In the long-term, the Summit will enable investors one step closer to creating partnerships between public and private sectors, establishing investment climates, and bringing opportunity that attract capital. A strong economy is good for everyone's business. Investors can support the economy where they operate.

In this regard, as African countries and the United States are mutual stakeholders to one and the other's business success, they have their own enormous amount of untapped potential for shared business engagement. Africa is one of the fastest growing region in the world today, particularly the sub-Saharan Africa. Therefore, US and African investors can take advantages of business opportunities where they want to run their investment.

Currently, about ten USA companies are exploring opportunities to do business in Africa. For the companies that came to Ethiopia, the government should able to connect them directly to business development opportunities here on the ground.

Explaining his government commitment to foster Ethio-USA investment, Prime Minister of Ethiopia Hailemariam Dessalegn said at the Summit that his government has provided an inviting framework and encouraging incentives designed to attract foreign business and investment in the country.

Regarding the promising opportunities his country offers, the Prime Minister says that companies those want to invest in agribusiness, agro-processing and overall agricultural production can import capital goods duty free and entitled to tax holiday privileges. This investment incentives may attract US companies, and consider the country as a promising market. On the other hand, Ethiopia's strategic location, stable security, and low corruption make it stand first of the most investment attracting nations. Ethiopia has shown its commitment to economic growth, thereby investors are showing commitment to put their investment in the country.

It is also essential if foreign investors could place their financial resources on other attractive areas such as the construction industry, hydro power, wind and geothermal energy projects, rail and road construction sectors. Although Ethiopia presents the most untapped power generation in the continent, the country wants to attract investors engaged in leather and leather products, sugar, metal, industrial engineering and pharmaceutical sectors. In this regard, oil, gas and other minerals are attracting foreign investment in Ethiopia. Thus, these priorities strike competitiveness among huge companies in the globe to invest in the country.

Of course, the Summit has shown that foreign investors are ready to do business with Ethiopian investors. Foreign investors received the information about the quality of Ethiopian businesses and services, and they know that the country could provide labour, infrastructure, and focus on business firm initiatives. On the other part, Ethiopian investors also discover a lesson about market intelligence, make important business connections, and gain insight that can help them succeed in their own continent.

The summit becomes a way to the next steps in growing the US-Africa business and investment relationships, and enhance to work with foreign companies for mutual benefit. It has no secret that if international investors should drain to conducive investment climate, the best way is to do business in Ethiopia.

In sum, the Summit has thrown impact on creating more investment friendly economies, and establishing collaboration among private sectors and with government officials. As Ethiopian government prioritized on agricultural growth, manufacturing, urban markets, the US and other investors have to put their eyes on unexplored opportunities on the country, and thereby play a crucial role in generating overall growth and global prosperity.

Indeed, as US officials said, American and other investors have a role in building up African economies. Governments and companies should strengthen their commitment to transparency and fighting corruption. US Ambassador Patricia Haslach believes that African governments require the private sector entrepreneurial spirit, market survey and readiness to invest.They have to provide US investors the enabling environment such as stability, fair and efficient regulatory frameworks as well as attractive investment plan.

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