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Airbus, the giant aircraft manufacturer in the European market, is in discussion with Bamboo Star Agro-forestry for a possible partnership to produce airplane cabin interior from bamboo.
Airbus engineers came to Ethiopia last week and have taken samples of bamboo in order to study how it can be effectively used on different parts of an airplane’s interior. Currently plane cabins are made out of carbon fiber.
Michael Gebru, owner and General Manager of Bamboo Star Agro-forestry and who was selected by Reuters as one of the Promising African Entrepreneur who has Developed Unique Business Ideas In 2014 told Capital that Airbus engineers are studying the bamboo samples taken from the farm.
“They like the bamboo that is being produced in Gambella. Unlike most bamboo species, this specific type we are producing does not have a hole at the center. Bamboo is a good material for a variety of reasons; it is eco-friendly and can serve for a long time,” Michael stated.
He also said that, the Airbus engineers have been studying several varieties of the plant to find out which ones better work for the building of plane cabin parts and so far, varieties found at his farm have been found to be promising.
“If Airbus engineers agree to use the bamboo, the money Ethiopia gets from bamboo plantation will also increase,” he further stated.
In a related news, Bamboo Star Agro Forestry, a company with 100 million birr capital, is also partnering with the Chinese and Saudi investors to construct a paper factory to substitute import.
Bamboo Star which lay on 6,000 meter square plot is currently producing 500,000 bamboo plants and distributing them to farmers.
Bamboo Star has asked the Development Bank of Ethiopia to lend it 60 million birr for expansion of its plantation.
Three companies are currently involved in the bamboo industry including Bamboo Star Agro-forestry which is located in Asossa town of the Benishangul Gumuz Regional state. The other two are Adal Industrial Group PLC. which operates in Sidama zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Regional state (SNNPR), and African Bamboo PLC which has a plantation in Nefas Silk, Lafto District of Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia currently has the largest area of commercially untapped land of one million hectares – that is suitable for bamboo growing in East Africa, making it attractive for investment partners from the bamboo industry. However, the current bamboo production is much lower than its capacity.