Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Bonds due in three weeks

The business community who promised to buy billion of birr worth of bonds from the Development Bank of Ethiopia (DBE) a few months ago has been instructed by relevant government officials to conclude their promise within a few weeks.
Businesspeople from various industries said they received a written directive from high ranking government officials that oversee their various industries.
In addition some government offices have informed the business people through meetings. Water and related business owners who attended a meeting chaired by Alemayehu Tegenu, minister of Water and Energy on Thursday December 29, told Capital that the minister asked them to finalize the  bond purchasing process within three weeks.
Participants explained that they were instructed to settle 100 percent of their promise based on their agreement with ministry officials a few months ago.
A businessperson who works in the aluminum industry told Capital that he has already paid half of the total bond amount he promised to buy after the ministry office wrote a letter to the sector association a few weeks ago.
“Six months ago we agreed to buy the bond following the meeting chaired by Mekuria Haile, minister of Urban Development and Construction. Until the middle of December no government offices approached us about the bond issue,” the businessperson said.
The businessperson added that he did not have any information about when he needed to conclude the second half of his promise.
According to sources, in the past few weeks most government offices and officials have been actively alerting the private sector about finalizing their pledge in order to accelerate government developmental activities.
Since the DBE issued the Grand Renaissance Dam Bond late last fiscal year not only the business community but employees of governmental and nongovernmental organizations have promised to buy the two types of bonds [with or without interest maturity].
Others in the construction sector were asked to make good their pledge in installment; fifty percent of their pledge to be paid by early February 2012, 35 percent three months later and the balance by early September. 
Citizens have made great efforts to buy the bond but the business communities’ contribution is the highest amount.
Government employees that pledged their one month salary began contributing part of their salary this fiscal year. State and private companies’ employees’ alone have raised close to three billion birr from the purchase of bonds.
Since the Grand Renaissance Dam construction officially commenced in May 2011 the business community and their employees began pledging various amounts of money to support the project. On September 11, 2011, the eve of Ethiopian New Year, the government announced that all financial supports is to be changed into bonds as opposed to free contribution.
DBE’s bond was issued in March 2011 with the goal of obtaining sufficient finance for projects that are undertaken in the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP). The Great Renaissance Dam that is being constructed by the Italian firm Salini Costruttori will cost 4.8 billion dollars and is being fully financed through local sources mostly from bond sales.
At 5,250 Mega Watts, the dam being constructed on the Blue Nile River about 40Km east of Sudan in the Benishangul-Gumuz Region of Ethiopia will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa when completed, and the reservoir at 63 billion cubic meters will be one of the continent’s largest.
The DBE bond ranges from 50 to 100,000 birr and does not have a maximum purchasing limit. Bonds with a maturity date of one to five years will have a 5.5 percent interest rate and for over five years the interest amount will be six percent.
DBE plans to collect close to 11 billion birr from bond sales in the coming five years. This will cover about 38 percent of the bank budget to be disbursed for agricultural and related projects in the five year plan. The rural public is the wide target of the bond sales, while the biggest amount of sales are expected to occur in urban areas.
According to DBE’s five year plan, it will release 28 billion birr in loan provisions for developmental projects.