18 October 2017

Ethiopia: Industrial Parks' in Reducing Unemployment

Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia
The Industrial Parks Development Corporation has inaugurated the Mekelle Industrial Park and the Kombolcha Industrial Park.

The government of Ethiopia is unwavering in its commitment to making the country the leading manufacturing hub in Africa by 2025. Development of world class, specialized, vertically integrated, export driven and competitive industrial parks is the central driver and catalyst of the Vision.

Hawassa Industrial Park (HIP) embodies the full execution of these principles, and hence represents a blueprint that guides the development of similar parks in other parts of the country.

Besides the economic advantage, the government needs industrial parks like HIP to reduce unemployment rate. For instance, in the HIP alone, nearly 10,000 employees are currently working in various fields, of which the majority are young women.

At its full capacity and in two shifts, the Park will hire approximately 60,000 employees.

Genet Gedamu, is one of the beneficiaries of the Hawassa Industrial Park. She is working in one of the textile factories for over the past six month, attaching button on men clothing, with a monthly salary of 1,002 Birr. She reminisces the time that she spent her time idly after she had completed her 10th grade education.

Seizing the opportunity for training and acquiring skills provided by the incumbent, she engaged in her present occupation. Now, Genet is confident as she is not only standing on her feet, but she is also supporting her family.

Beletech Gizaw, 25, is a mother of two and presently works at Hawassa Industrial Park for the past six months. She had been jobless for some time after completing her secondary school education, and decided to get married because she had no option to get job.

According to Beletech, she and some of her friends were first recruited by the government and had been given physical fitness test. Then, they received training in button attaching. "After joining the Hawassa Industrial Park, we again took training on how to sew coat. Then they assigned us to do the job assisted by a machine."

Beletech is very happy for getting such an opportunity. She said: "I have my own job and earn a monthly salary amounted to 1,000 Birr as a monthly salary. Though I'm delighted for getting the job, the salary is not satisfactory and hope the Company improve it when it starts to get profit."

Alemayehu Woldehana, 23, is a graduate from TVET and currently works at HIP. He first took mechanical and technical training before he joined the textile factory. And now, he is serving as a maintenance officer in the Factory. Though he has some experience in electric installation, the presence of advanced technology grabbed his attention to join the textile factory. "This has helped me to further upgrade my knowledge and experience." He also hopes to be a Chief Technician in the Company.

Sasi Busen, an Indian, is the Country Manager of Silver Spark Apparel PLC - a wholly-owned subsidiary to one of the top 5 leading suit manufacturers in the world. He said, right now the Factory has hired 530 Ethiopians and they all are engaged in suit production. Most of the employees are women. This is because; he explained, apparel industry dominantly employ women across the world.

The Manager also indicated that the factory has given basic sewing skill training for its women employees. He admired Ethiopians saying "They are hungry to learn."

The Indian's technical trainers are now transferring suit making skills to his employees by planting technologically advanced machinery.

Besides the direct investment in the Park, HIP will significantly contribute to the business competitiveness of SNNPs', Hawassa City in particular. The number of off-park investment in Hawassa has sharply increased in the past two years as many businesses have seen greater market opportunities, according to Ethiopian Investment Commission.

Investment Commission, Deputy Commissioner Abebe Abebayehu told The Ethiopian Herald that nearly 18 leading global companies are invested in the HIP. These companies are now creating ample job opportunities. A first of its kind, targeted labor screening, grading and skill training system have been piloted in HIP.

According to Abebe, this is a joint effort involves the State, Hawassa City and other zonal administrations, Ethiopia Textile Industry Development Institute, HIP investors association and enterprise partners.

Besides creating jobs for unemployed citizens, the government allowed local investors to engage in the Park. Accordingly, eight domestic investors have been meticulously selected, and the necessary preparations are finalized to facilitate their investment in the Park. The government attaches high importance to the inclusion of domestic industrialists into HIP and all other parks in the pipeline. In line with the industrial park strategy of the country, 15 to 30 percent of factory shades and spaces in all parks will be secured for domestic investors.

By operating in close proximity to world class manufacturers, domestic industrialists can easily benefit from technological transfer and diffusion of management know-how. Additionally, local industrialists will get the opportunity to seamlessly integrate into the global supply chain. There are important aspects of the linkage strategy through which the benefits of foreign direct investment can be leveraged and harnessed.

Modeling the HIP, the government has further embarked on the development of other parks in places such as Kombolcha, Mekelle, Kilinto, DireDawa, Adama. Following this, many citizens will have a chance to get jobs. And other local investors should be ready to engage in the upcoming industrial parks. For this to happen, concerned bodies should work aggressively to equip citizens with the necessary skills.

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