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Ethiopia’s first and large-scale industrial zone, under development by Chinese investors, has faced a challenge to investor promotion due to the absence of sub-lease arrangements to firms coming to the zone. “Enterprises can’t get their own title deeds issued by the Government when they apply for land from the Eastern Industry Zone,” Zone’s management member, Wu Shuaiju, told The Ethiopian Herald. According to Wu, due to this problem, enterprises believe that their properties aren’t safe and protected by the government, apart from its impact on investment license, duty-free, construction permit and loan applications. Indicating that EIZ has been discussing the land title issue for enterprises in the Zone for more than two years, Wu said that the issue is still pending up to now. He also expressed conviction that the issue would be addressed in the shortest time possible, underlining the absence of issuing land title deeds or sublease certificates to investors coming to the Eastern Industrial Zone almost nulls the zone’s efforts to promote investment. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Industry (MoI) said that it has issued a letter that legitimizes the sub-lease agreement between the industry zone developer and interested parties (enterprises) as a temporary solution to the problem. MoI industry zone development team leader and Eastern Industry zone adviser, Hagos Sequar, told this reporter that the letter was given to EIZ accordingly. Nevertheless, it is still not seen as a sustainable means to address the issue since the letter is a temporary document, Hagos noted. Also the absence of a regulatory framework on sub-lease arrangements has considerable impact on investors, he said, therefore, the Ministry has prepared a draft regulation that is expected to be ratified by the Council of Ministers. According to Hagos, EIZ is a model, complementing the government’s plan to construct similar industry zones in five other locations across the country, on top of its merit to strengthen bilateral ties. Cognizant of such merits, the government has attached special significance to EIZ since its establishment in 2009, such as offering various incentives, including extended tax holidays, cheap rates for land lease and other infrastructure construction that are exceptional to the zone, Hagos added.
(The Ethiopian Herald)