Eager to promote light manufacturing in the western part of his country, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed flew to the city of Jimma Saturday, 8 December to open the latest in a national stampede of industrial parks.
With nine manufacturing sheds spread over 75ha, the park cost $61m to build, and is intended to host textile and agricultural processing businesses, local media report.
State-owned contracting behemoth China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) designed and built the park in nine months, according to state news agency Xinhua.
Africa’s second most populous country, Ethiopia has been determinedly building energy and transport infrastructure, plus manufacturing hubs, in its effort to reach middle-income status.
As a testament to the regional significance of Ethiopia’s efforts, Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir and Djibouti’s president IsmaÃ¯l Omar Guelleh joined Abiy for the Jimma park opening.
The presidents also helped Abiy launch construction of the 79-km Jimma-Agaro-Dedesa River road project, to be built at a cost of $48.6m (1.37 billion birr), Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Facebook.
Flying home from a busy day in Jimma, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and First Lady Zinash Tayachew (Office of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia)
According to the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC), there are 11 more industrial parks in the making, and, by 2025, 30 more parks will be built, aimed at creating 200,000 jobs.
This burgeoning industrial sector is attracting keen interest from international investors. In September, the EIC revealed that investors from the UAE wanted to buy or lease the whole Jimma park.
Elsewhere, as GCR reported in November, Turkish Industry Holding plans to invest €750m in the first phase of an industrial park that will dwarf Jimma, in Tigray province. This ambitious first phase will see four factories on 500ha making ceramic, granite, paper and prefabricated housing systems.
A company director told GCR that, together, all phases will amount to an investment of between €2.8bn and €3bn.
Top image: Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, left, embraces the President of Djibouti, IsmaÃ¯l Omar Guelleh, at the inauguration of Jimma industrial park, 8 December 2018 (From the Twitter account of the Office of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia)