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Turkey would be another alternative for Ethiopian energy sector development, one of the major priorities for Ethiopian government. This was revealed while Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn met Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Addis Ababa on Thursday, January 22.
During a joint press conference with Hailemariam, Erdogan said Turkey’s relations with Ethiopia have developed a great deal and Turkish investors can hugely contribute to the energy, construction and defense sectors in Ethiopia.
One of the major areas of cooperation the two sides discussed was energy production that Ethiopia wants to develop for export. This would include large-scale hydro-electric dams.
A large group of Turkish businesspeople also accompanied Erdoğan on his Africa tour. Erdogan said with the meetings that took place in Addis Ababa on Thursday, Turkey and Ethiopia are starting a new phase of economic cooperation. Currently Ethiopia is undertaking several renewable energy projects but Turkey is not currently involved in any of those.
Ethiopia’s electric projects are being financed either from local sources or international organizations like the World Bank, Western Europe or China.
Ethiopia has been opening up its energy sector to private investors and due to that some foreign based companies are showing their interest to invest in the sector.
Transportation is another major area Turkey wants to be more involved in.
Currently, the Turkish company, Yapi Merkezi Construction is undertaking the USD 1.7 billion railway project that stretches from Awash to Woldeya. It is also partially financed by a loan from the Turkish government.
The Turkish delegation has been part of a tour of Africa as the nation seeks to expand its foothold on the continent. The Turkish Economic Minister Nihat Zeybekci recently visited Djibouti.
During his visit he disclosed that Turkey would help with the projects interlinking Ethiopia and Djibouti. This includes establishing an economic zone along the border of the two countries.
This zone will handle logistics to make transportation more efficient. In this way Ethiopia will become a gateway for Turkish commodities to enter Africa.
“This economic zone will allow Turkish products to enter Africa and east African goods to leave Africa more efficiently. Djibouti is the entry point for east Africa and 90 percent of goods coming to Ethiopia start their journey from there, so the nation plays a vital role in the region. This economic zone is very important to speed up and facilitate the process,” Osman R. Yavuzalp, Turkish Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union, recently told Capital.
On his African tour the president also visited Djibouti, which is the main gate of Ethiopia to the sea port and Somalia.
Turkey’s USD three billion leads all nations in FDI, eclipsing giant China by one billion USD. Over 350 Turkish investors are registered in Ethiopia to invest on various fields, while manufacturing is the priority.
The Turkish government also wants to get involved in Ethiopia’s financial sector. The sector is currently reserved for Ethiopians only.
Ziraat Bank, a Turkish agricultural bank, has tabled its interest for the government about a month ago. This issue has been one of the areas mentioned by Turkish officials during President Erdogan visit.
A delegate who accompanied the president talked with officials here about the possibility of opening a Turkish bank in Ethiopia.
Within a decade Turkish investment in Ethiopia has reached USD three billion, a figure which is expected to become even higher this year. The two countries’ economic trade relationship has reached over USD 400 million dollars per annum, and that is also highly anticipated to grow in the coming period.
During his visit the president also asked the Ethiopian government to collaborate with his government on Turkish based institutions that are active in Ethiopia.
He said that these institutions are controlled by bodies that threaten his country’s national security.
Last year at an event organized by the Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey (TUSKON), a non-profit umbrella organization representing 7 business federations, and the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association PM Hailemariam Desalegn gave his support for Turkish contribution in the education sector in Ethiopia.
Erdogan also said that the Turkish Ministry of Education is ready to offer the same service provided by other from Turkey investors.