Sun Optical Technologies (SOT), a renowned eyeglass supplier, partnered with Essilor Group, a French-based company, to set up eyecare centres and eyeglass manufacturing plants with an investment capital of about 100 million Br.
Berhane Abraha, managing director of SOT and Thibault Michels, managing director of Essilor East Africa, signed the joint venture agreement at Intercontinental Hotel on September 14, 2017.
Having 51pc share in the joint venture, Essilor has been negotiating with SOT for two years before concluding the partnership pact.
The agreement entails the opening of 200 eyecare centres throughout the country, of which 97 outlets will be in Addis, whereas the remaining will be in nine regional states.
The gap between the demand and supply of optics attracted Essilor to invest in Ethiopia, according to Michels.
"In Ethiopia, one optical shop serves 900,000 individuals, implying an enormous potential and unexplored areas in the country," he explained.
The partnership also includes setting up eyeglass producing centres in Hawassa, Gonder, and Dire Dawa within three months. An investment worth two million dollars is reserved for the implementation of the project.
This will raise the production capacity of Sun, whose existing manufacturing centre is around Sidst Kilo, by three folds to 450 glasses a day. It will also create job opportunities for 75 individuals, pushing Sun's number of employees to 185.
The duo has already finalised preparations to open 22 of the centres in the coming two weeks. Megenagna, Qera, Bisrate Gebriel, Lideta and Arat Kilo are amongst the spots where the new centres will be opened.
To realise the centres, SOT has entered a franchise agreement with 15 businesses with an investment worth between 300,000 Br and 1.4 million Br, last Thursday.
With the aim of advancing more into the market, SOT also plans to establish centres in public hospitals, which will enable them to leverage 25pc of the profit made from the centres.
"This is to make the service affordable to the working class," said Berhane.
Essilor will give training and create awareness about the importance of screening and regular check-ups in centres that are going to be opened in rural parts of the country, according to the agreement.
Established two decades ago, SOT has mainly been supplying lenses and frames to eye clinics, optical shops, hospitals and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO), producing a wide range of lenses from entry-level products to high-end branded products.
Essilor Group is a company known for producing ophthalmic lenses and ophthalmic optical equipment. It was formed in 1972 after the merger of Essel and Silor; it currently has 61,000 employees. Last year, the company generated revenues of eight billion dollars.