Ethiopia: Ex-Investment Commissioner Opts to Join Intergovernmental Org

Abebe Abebayehu, ending two years at his post as commissioner of the Ethiopian Investment Commission and a total of five years of public service, is venturing into the intergovernmental sphere.

The seasoned investment chief is weighing offers from intergovernmental organisations for the sake of what he says is his next endeavour - supporting reform by working under these kinds of organisations.

"I share the vision of the Prime Minister," said Abebe, "Although I'm weighing options, I'm just changing the side of the table. And I'll continue to support the government."

Abebe, a career lawyer, first began his journey in public service as the deputy commissioner of the Investment Commission under the leadership of Fitsum Arega, who is now serving as Ethiopia's ambassador to the United States. Later on, he moved under the wing of the Office of the Prime Minister as a senior legal advisor.

Two years before, he took the helm as chief of the Commission after replacing his former boss, Fitsum. During his stint at the Commission, one of his legacies was the recrafting of the six-year-old investment law, which has been credited with loosening the chains around the investment environment. The law was approved by the parliament earlier this year.

The new investment law opens the doors for public-private partnerships in the areas of international airport transport service, imports, export power distribution through the integrated national grid system and postal services with the exception of courier services. It has also allowed the partial engagement of foreign investment for the provision of logistics service, air transport services, inland public transport and freight transport.

"He has led the re-doing of the investment law and regulation, which has changed the tables of the investment environment," said Anteneh Alemu, deputy commissioner of Investment Commission.

Parallel to this, the new investment regulation, which has been tabled to the Council of Ministers for final approval, is one Abebe's achievment.

"To a certain degree, we've automated the service delivery service including the one-stop-shop window service," said Anteneh. "This has done wonders in simplifying the investment procedure and communication."

"I'm very proud to say the Commission has the largest pool of technical experts that provide support to the growth of investments," said Abebe. "I was lucky to have them behind my back."

Abebe has expressed that he has no regrets he would pinpoint specifically.

"I leave with my head high," he said.

Before his journey in public service, he worked at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, where he took up the task of founding a secure public-private dialogue in Ethiopia.

His career journey started out as a lecturer in law at the School of Law & Governance at Addis Abeba University, the school where he finished at the top of his class and was awarded with the Chancellor's Gold Medal Award. He has an LL.M in International Trade & Investment Law from the University of Western Cape, South Africa and an LL.M in Energy Law & Policy from the University of Dundee, United Kingdom.

The seat he has left behind has now been taken by perhaps the youngest government official, Lelise Neme, the outgoing CEO of the Industrial Parks Development Corporation of Ethiopia (IPDC) who is now the new EIC commissioner.

Lelise, who is often the talk of the town for assuming a top position at a young age, has served a total of two years as the director-general at the Office of Oromia Industrial Development Agency and as deputy CEO of the Oromia Industrial Park Development Corporation.

She studied at the School of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Jimma University and soon after her graduation assumed the position of a lecturer at the same university.

Shiferaw Solomon, the deputy CEO of the Industrial Parks Corporation, has said that her leadership style is unparalleled and well above the stereotypical judgement for people her age.

"She is living proof that if young people are empowered to lead, they can lead," he said.

Her biggest achievement in her post as the chief executive of the Commission was operationalising seven of the 11 industrial parks in the country.

"She isn't far from IPDC, and I'm sure she will excel in her next endeavour. Last week, her position was assumed by Sandokan Debebe, director-general at the Technology Innovation Institute that was established last year.

Sandokan, a PhD candidate at Addis Abeba University, received two second-degrees in food science & human nutrition and business administration. Before joining the Institute he served as a founding member of the Ethiopian Biotechnology Institute and the Ethiopian Space Science & Technology Institute. He also served as deputy director-general for the Ethiopian Biotechnology Institute.

He has served as a board member for Ethio telecom, director for the Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office, director for the Science & Technology Information Center, and a lecturer at the Addis Abeba Science & Technology Information Centre.

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