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30 French companies participated in the French-Ethiopian Business Forum held this week. The delegation of companies came from various sectors including finance, energy, construction and telecommunication.
Momar Nguer, President of the France-Eastern Africa Business Council stated that the French companies are here because they are confident of the opportunities presented.
“On the other hand, the purpose of this visit is to show our views as investors because it is very important from our perspective to understand the government and the private sector. It is very important for the government to understand where we are coming from and what we are expecting as well as to hear what the government wants,” Nguer stated.
He further appreciated the country’s recent growth and development. “One of the things you have managed to do in Ethiopia is increasing the quality of education. You cannot build the economy if you don’t have qualified people and Ethiopia has been able to achieve that in terms of literacy and technical skills. We are very confident,” Nguer said.
The delegation had a special focus on transportation and held discussions with different stakeholders in the sector. Financial and telecommunications companies were also present, looking into opportunities in sectors currently closed off to foreign investment.
“Yes those sectors are closed now but they are going to open one day, so these companies want to come and see if there is some other service they could provide in the mean time,” Nguer also said.
Present during the closing session of the Forum was French State Minister of Foreign Trade, Matthias Fekl. He stated that the French companies are here at the disposal of the Ethiopian government and potential business partners.
“Some of the very best French companies are here. France is ready to strengthen the economic ties between the two countries,” he stated.
The Minister also inaugurated the Business France Office at the French Embassy in Addis Ababa; an office that will further support economic and trade relations between the two countries.
“Our economic partnership and friendship is not new, let’s not forget that in 1897 France built the first railway in Ethiopia. Today French companies are happy and proud to be present in Ethiopia, across different sectors from the flower business to tourism, food, airport, environment, energy and several others. They are fully integrated within the Ethiopian economy, creating jobs,” he underlined.
Ethiopian Minister of Industry Ahmed Abtew on his part said that there are great opportunities for both countries and expressed that Ethiopia views France as a valuable partner in cooperation.
“Investment and trade activities have already been strengthened especially in the manufacturing and service sectors,” Ahmed underlined.
He further stated that Ethiopia envisions becoming a manufacturing hub in East Africa during the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP); the country plans to establish over 10 industrial parks to boost the manufacturing sector. This, Ahmed stated, opens up a huge investment opportunity in manufacturing for French and other foreign investors.