Ethiopia plans to privatize more state factories, firms: Official

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Assefa pointed out that the government had already upgraded both the textile factories in question, Bahirdar and Kombolcha, located in the Amhara region

Assefa pointed out that the government had already upgraded both the textile factories in question, Bahirdar and Kombolcha, located in the Amhara region

ADDIS ABABA - The government is planning to privatize two large textile factories and a mineral company, as well as six medium-size companies, the Ethiopian Privatization and Public Enterprises Supervising Agency said.

"If all goes as planned, we will fully privatize the nine factories and companies," agency corporate communications director Wondafrash Assefa told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.

Assefa pointed out that the government had already upgraded both the textile factories in question, Bahirdar and Kombolcha, located in the Amhara region.

The director said the mineral company, located in southern Ethiopia's Peoples' State, was engaged in the exploration and export of tantalum, a rare metal used in the nuclear power industry.

"The mineral company is a huge asset with huge market potential," Assefa said.

"The total cost of the factories and companies should not be disclosed, as it could influence market," he added.

The agency has been privatizing companies since 1995, he said, adding that it had privatized 365 different companies – worth a total of 18 billion Ethiopian Birr (around $1 billion) – to date.

It has fully privatized 329 of these companies, while engaging six others in joint venture schemes.

The remaining 25 companies had been illegally nationalized by the military Derg regime, which ruled Ethiopia from 1974 to 1991, and were eventually returned to their original owners.

One of the joint ventures is a textile company run by Turkey's Saygin Dima. The company, Assefa said, was working "successfully on a joint venture basis with the Ethiopian government."

Ethiopia drafts new mining policy to empower private sector

Ethiopia's Mining Ministry has said it has drafted a new mining policy that will give the private sector more leeway to operate.

"The draft policy gives all exploration, development and marketing of mineral resources to the private sector," Bacha Faji, public relations director at the Mining Ministry, told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.

The role of the government will be limited to providing legal frameworks, supervision and follow up, he said.

The Ethiopian government has been facing criticism for engaging in trade and business – which business leaders say should be left to the private sector.

The government, however, defends itself, saying it is engaged in areas that are too risky to leave to the private sector, such as electric power and telecoms.

Faji said the new mining policy was meant to bolster the mining sector and increase Ethiopia's foreign currency earnings.

"The policy aims to see the mining sector contributing ten percent of Ethiopia's GDP in the coming 20 years," he said. "The draft policy allows for the free engagement of both local and foreign investors in the sector."

The draft policy has been submitted and is currently being scrutinized by pertinent government and legislative bodies, he said.

"We believe there will not be industrialization in the country without development of the mining sector," said Faji.

The policy will be instrumental in generating employment and increasing household incomes through legalizing traditional miners, he stressed.

Ethiopia has significant potash, tantalum, gem stones, marble, coal and gold resource potentials, in addition to unknown quantities of oil and gas.

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