The Oromia Industrial Parks Development Corporation of Ethiopia has signed an agreement worth almost $200m to build a 250ha agricultural processing park in the the western highlands province of Oromia.

The agreement was signed by Sisay Gemechu, head of the Ethiopian Industrial Parks Development Corporation, and Dereje Ermias, head of the Walabu Construction Share Company, a contractor based in Oromia.

The project is notable for being financed from the country’s own resources and built by an Ethiopian contractor.  Speaking at the signing, Sisay said the park will be built in three years, and would be entirely funded by the Ethiopian state.

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The park will be built in the city of Nekemte, and will process export crops such as coffee, tea, meat, oilseeds and honey. According to Sisay, it may eventually create more than 50,000 jobs.

Ethiopia has based its industrialisation strategy on the creation of industrial parks, supported by the development of power and transport infrastructure. The country is presently in the second phase of its Growth and Transformation Plan, which is aimed at making it the leading manufacturing hub in Africa by 2025.

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Previous parks have been built by Chinese contractors, financed by Chinese capital and often accommodate Chinese companies (see further reading).

China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation has built flagship parks in Bahir Dar, Adama, and Dire Dawa. China Communications Construction built the textile centre at Mekelle Industrial Park, while China Tiesiju Civil Engineering Group built the Kilinto pharmaceutical industrial park on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. In total, nine industrial parks are located near the Chinese-built Djibouti rail line.

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Last December, the Ethiopian Investment Commission said the country earned more than $47m from industrial parks during the first quarter of the Ethiopian fiscal year that started in July 2019.

Image: One of the park’s key roles will be to roast Ethiopia’s Arabica coffee beans (Aodhain/Dreamstime)

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