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Businesses as well as the population of Assosa are thriving ever since construction of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) had begun five years before.
Thirty licenses were issued to developers that want to construct hotels, an essential facility needed to accommodate the increasing number of tourists.
Since commencement of the GERD, five hotels were opened in Assosa, a town 49km2 large which was visited by 25,000 tourists in the last four months alone. The town administration has prepared 120 hectares of land for real estate developers, half of it for hotels and the remaining for housing construction.
GERD has had induced many businesses to mushroom in the South-western town of Asossa, where travelers like to hang around for a day or two as it is the largest town near the under-construction dam.
The city has plans to have 100 hotels at the end of GTP II, according to Assosa Mayor Tofik Abdulkeyum. And more residential houses are being built. “Before GERD started, the town didn’t have more than two hotels. Now the number of people living in Assosa has jumped to 20,000 from 50,000 and around 2,000 licensed businesses work in the city. We have allotted land for investors who are constructing 30 hotels. When the hotels are finished, the town can accommodate more people.’’
“The hotels will have high standard and we are almost through with the preparation to asses and give star labels to existing hotels.”
But GERD also brought with it a new challenge for the town of Assosa as illegal trade is spreading parallel with formal business operation, presenting a new test especially in tax collection. The mayor said tax revenue is increasing despite the situation. “Around 2,000 businesses pay their tax properly. But we have observed that many people do trade here without having a license. We are aware and are taking action on illegal businesses, and we noticed our office is not well organized to control the city’s transaction,’’ the mayor said.
For the 2007 Ethiopian fiscal year, the city’s administration projected to collect 31 million birr in taxes, it collected 43 million birr exceeding its target by 12 million birr. This year, the projection has increased by a significant amount with an expected 60 million birr revenue. Between September 2014 and December 2015 alone, 53,000 local and foreign tourists and travelers have visited the Benishangul Gumuz region. Over 40,000 of the tourists had visited the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and most had stayed at the regional capital at least for two days.
This year the town expects to welcome over 60,000 foreign and local tourists and travelers.
Assosa town, the capital city of Benishangul Gumuz Regional State, is found 200kms away from the GERD.