Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Businesses blanket once sleepy Debre Birhan

Ancient Debre Birhan, 130Km north-east of Addis Ababa, was known for its woollen blankets produced from the only industry it had at the time; the Debre Birhan Blanket Factory. The town is also famous for frigid weather.
“Even though the town’s weather is cold our location has attracted manufacturers, agricultural processors and the service industry,” one official said.
Like many global urban areas that experience an economic and development boom, investors looking for affordable land are looking at suburban areas and smaller towns in the exurbs.
It is not just local companies that are flocking to Debre Birhan, international businesses are giving serious consideration to the town. A major highway from Addis to Mekele, which link the two motor town, is expected to make the region an investment corridor, Getaneh Zike, Mayor of Debre Birhan City Administration said.
“We are really booming now,” the Mayor said.
According to Getaneh, another thoroughfare from eastern Awash to Debre Birhan will bring even more business to the area.
When the two major roads are finished Debre Birhan will have easy access to the Port of Djibouti, Addis Ababa and the northern region.  Currently the Addis-Adama (Nazareth) highway is the only corridor for Port of Djibouti.
Debre Birhan’s mayor says they are making more land available for industrial use and are working to speed up the application process. He said they are responding to requests within a few weeks.
“It takes eight days to get final approval from the Amhara Regional Administration, which is the last step towards final approval for investment land requests in the regional state,” he added.
The town has just snagged Habesha and Dashen breweries. Habesha will have 7.5hct of land and Dashen 20hct. Both companies pointed to the town’s location and the potential for a huge barley supply in the area as major reasons for their decision to be in Debre Birhan.
An Indian investor with 285 million birr plans to start ceramics production and has already secured 33hct of land, the city administration further noted.
“Several local and foreign based manufacturers want to invest in textile, metal engineering and other sectors have already secured plots through the city administration and many have either started construction or production,” he added.
Three export oriented slaughter houses, a flour factory and new local and foreign investors have created a two billion birr agro-processing centre as well.
In fact the flowers, fruit and vegetable and other processing have made agriculture the largest industry in the town and attracted international companies.  The city also believes that tourists will come to Debre Birhan.
“We are focusing not only on industry and agriculture but, we are working to enlarge the tourism sector because of our historical locations,” the Mayor explained.   
Over the last few years building construction by private companies is being observed in the town. Most of them want to get involved in the hospitality industry.
“Before we did not have quality hotels and accommodation services for local and foreign tourists that wanted to come to historical locations in the area,” the Mayor said.  However, now the town has about 600 quality bedrooms with modern hotel services. Now two investors even have plans to create a couple four star hotels in the town.
“Based on the closeness of the town to the capital city we have a vision to make Debre Birhan a conference centre with the expansion of high level hotel and accommodation services in the town,” the Mayor concluded.