An Israeli company, Eshet Engineering Ltd, and the Ministry of Industry (MoI) formed a company through a joint venture to set up an industrial zone in the town of Kombolcha, Amhara National Regional state. Eshet invested USD 200 million in these JV.
The Kombolcha Industrial Zone will be constructed on 1,000 hectares and will be used to host prioritized export-oriented sectors, such as textile and garment, leather and leather products, agro-based industries, among others. The government has prepared about 1,123 hectares for industry zone development in Kombolcha. According to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) the two parties signed, MoI will own 5 percent of all the rights of the industry zone while Eshet will own the rest. According to their agreement, MoI will provide the plot at its own cost, facilitate the evacuation of users of the land, settle compensation for those evacuated, and will provide the infrastructure for the area such as electricity, telecommunication and water supply.
In a related development Israeli business delegation is the latest to join the constant stream of business to business meetings, with representatives from 16 Israeli companies coming to meet their Ethiopian counterparts on March 5 and 6. The delegation, which was led by the Israeli Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Yair Shamir, consisted largely of companies working in aquaculture, irrigation and agro-industry.
Agriculture Minister Tefera Derbew encouraged the Israeli companies to invest in Ethiopia saying the country’s large livestock numbers will be a good source of hides and skins. This is the major sector that the ministry wants the Israeli delegations to invest in.
“Livestock has been underperforming for many years,” Tefera said. “However, during the GTP period, because we focused on developing this sector, especially this year, we are witnessing a significant improvement as far as breed enhancement, forage development and animal health are concerned. This is our future hope as far as high value agricultural commodity exchange is concerned.”
The minister said natural development and irrigation activities have performed well above the target set by the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP).
According to Tefera, currently there are 50 Israeli companies working in Ethiopia and there are more than 150 others in the pipeline already registered that haven’t started work yet. Shamir said that most Israeli business people prefer to open Ethiopian companies while using Israeli technology. “Ethiopia is a huge country that is an island of stability and democracy,” Shamir said. “Around you very few are up to this standard. For us as a country to be able to give guarantee to companies that want to invest in this kind of land that is managed so well by the government is impressive.”
Shamir said that Israel will give assistance to Ethiopia if matters of instability arise. The companies that want to invest in Ethiopia are not only in the agriculture sector but also IT, medicine and technology. On the subject of the Ethio-Egypitian conflict over the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) though, the minister stated that the government of Israel will not take sides.
Shamir met with Tewedros Adhanom (PhD) Minister of Foreign Affairs and Alemyehu Tegenu, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy before departing. This is his second state visit to Ethiopia.