Middle East companies run over $1bn worth projects in Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa, 6 August 2014 (WIC) - Middle East companies are running 179 investment projects worth over $1 billion in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Investment Agency said Tuesday.

In statements to Anadolu Agency, communication director Getahun Negash said the projects are being carried out in different fields as manufacturing, agriculture, real estate and machinery.

"Some 80 of the total projects are in the manufacturing sector as the government gives prime attention to the sector," Negash said.

"Second to manufacturing is the agriculture sector, which supplies inputs to the manufacturing sector. Some 35 of the total projects are in the agriculture sector," he said.

Negash said Saudi Arabia has the lion's share of the Middle Eastern investment projects in Ethiopia with 86 projects, followed by Yemen and Egypt, which have 29 and 23 projects respectively.

According to Negash, Ethiopia, given its geographical location, has always had economic, cultural and commercial ties to the Middle East.

He said that African countries as Sudan, Egypt, South Africa and Nigeria have investments in Ethiopia.

"The Sudanese have the largest investment in Ethiopia compared to other African countries," he said.
Cultural ties

Negash denied any drastic changes in Egyptian investments in Ethiopia due to tension between the two countries over a controversial Ethiopian dam on the Nile.

"We do not mix politics with investment. We treat Egyptian investors the same way we give service to others," he said.

In recent years, tension has marred relations between Ethiopia and Egypt over the former's construction of a major dam project on the upper reaches of the Nile River, which represents Egypt's primary water source.

Ethiopia says the dam is necessary for its national development plans. It insists the project won't impact Egypt's traditional share of Nile water, which has long been determined by a colonial-era water-sharing treaty that Addis Ababa has never acknowledged.

Negash said that Ethiopia has strong cultural ties with Arab countries.

"Ethiopia is one of the African countries, which have close cultures with the Arab world and this can be mentioned as part of the factors that attract investors from Arab countries," he said.

"Cheap labor and incentives are also motivational. The prevailing peace and stability, geographical location, bilateral cooperation signed with different countries as well as the existing sound investment policy helped the country to attract more investors," he said. (World Bulletin)