Debretsion Gebremichael (Ph.D.)
The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Africa with its impressive current and potential economic growth has become a focus for international investors, not least because of the continent is today hosting most of the world’s fastest-growing economies.
Certainly, this growth has created enormous business opportunities to attract investors. The return on investment in Africa is higher than in most developed countries; the continent is rich in natural resources, and it is a largely untapped but burgeoning market with low penetration and great potential.
Ethiopia is among the list of fastest growing countries in Africa and indeed in the world. It is pursuing pragmatic and favorable policies laying down the basis for economic and social development. Notably, the Ethiopian Government also continues to recognize the private sector as a key partner in the development process. Ethiopia’s strategies have delivered double-digit growth for the last decade. It has, rightly, been praised as the fastest growing non-oil dependent country.
To sustain our development endeavors, we are determined to mobilize all available resources to the greatest extent possible. We attach great importance to promoting external trade and attracting foreign direct investment as important and central strategies in resource mobilization. Indeed, the Government has repeatedly made every effort to implement policies and strategies to position Ethiopia as an attractive destination for foreign investment.
To boost confidence in the economic system, Ethiopia is pursuing prudent and sound macroeconomic policies. We are securing appropriate bilateral investment agreements and double taxation treaties with many countries. We guarantee constitutional protection of investment from expropriation and we are signatory to the main international investment related institutions and other appropriate bodies.
Ethiopia offers a strong internal market. It has second largest population in sub-Saharan Africa. Its location at the crossroads between Africa, the Middle East and Asia and its membership of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), as well as the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD), offer unparalleled regional market potential and provides a comfortable platform from which to access the region’s high growth markets. This potential is impressive enough but it is set to be boosted significantly by a number of major regional interconnection projects now being underway.
We are also making greater efforts to strengthen the capacity of our infrastructure and public utilities. We have one of the most ambitious road building programs in Africa, a program which is bringing large swathes of productive Ethiopia into the market economy. We have launched a major effort to produce green energy to provide for our own growth and that of our neighbors. We are endowed with abundant and diverse renewable energy resources, and Ethiopia is certainly an attractive destination for international investment in clean energy.
We are enthused by the ways Ethiopian government can work with you in mutually rewarding engagement that adds value and provides for mutual benefit for us all. We look forward to the further enhancement of business and investment relations. We believe this forum provides an excellent platform for both companies and government bodies to discuss new ideas, establish modern networks and strengthen existing ties.
All of this contributes to fostering the ethos of long-term, sustainable and responsible investment and business in Ethiopia and in Africa. This, we believe, is what Africa needs. Indeed, Africa is ready to stand on its own feet and take major steps forward, with the African Union and NEPAD offering the vehicles for further development. In this context, we believe the most important role of the Africa Investment Forum is to gather up the ideas of collaboration between Africa and the rest of the world, to respond to the ongoing dynamic development in Africa and create a robust platform and vehicle to facilitate the interaction of both public and private sectors.
We are confident that this Forum will help promote prosperous trade and investment between Africa and the international business community and help move the global development process forward toward a bright future. It will alert potential investors to the fact that Africa is positioned to serve their investment interests, offering the full benefit of its global interconnectedness.
We wish to take this opportunity to thank Messer Frankfurt GmbH, the African Union Commission, and the Pan Africa Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the idea of holding this meeting and of co-organizing it so effectively.
We are pleased to have the opportunity to host the Africa Investment Forum and look forward to the expansion of Ethiopia’s investment and business relations for the benefit of all. We are also delighted to welcome participants from every part of the world to this Africa Investment Forum 2014, and we wish all a pleasant stay and successful deliberations here in Addis Ababa.
Debretsion Gebremichael (Ph.D.)
Deputy Prime Minister for Finance and Economic Cluster and Minister of Communication and Information Technology
The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
H.E. Dr. Anthony Mothae Maruping Africa Union Commission
Africa is currently the fastest growing continent in the world. More than two-thirds of the continent has registered overall improvement in the quality of economic governance in recent years, with increased capacity to deliver economic opportunity and basic services. Africa’s economic growth could not have happened without major improvement in economic governance.
However, for it to sustain its growth there is need for effective regulations to support growth, investment, innovation, market openness and uphold the rule of law. A poor regulatory environment undermines business competitiveness and citizens' trust in government, and it encourages corruption in public governance. They need to put their economies back on the path to sustainable growth, find ways to handle complex policy areas. Regulatory reform has already proved its worth, supporting structural reforms, entrepreneurship and market openness and the private sector has become the main engine of growth as the continent continues to improve its business climate.
Nevertheless, Africa’s inadequate infrastructure remains a major constraint to the continent’s economic growth and development. African currently invests just four per cent of its collective GDP in infrastructure, compared with China’s 14 per cent. “While sustainable infrastructure entails significant up-front investments, it will prove cost-effective in the longer term.”
The percentage of Africans living in cities already exceeds the percentage of people in the subcontinent who live in cities. By 2030, half of all Africans are expected to be living in cities.
The primary task of Africa is mainly to develop the economy and eradicate poverty. Without economic growth, there would be no material basis for a better life or better environment for the people. For example, Science and technology, hi-tech in particular, gives strong backing to sustainable development. We should focus on enhancing our capacity for sustainable development, further increase our input in science and technology, intensify our efforts in the development of environmental infrastructure, apply clean manufacturing technology, develop the industry of environmental protection and improve the resource and environment management system. We should also improve the mechanisms and the legal system through institutional reforms so as to facilitate the effective implementation of sustainable development strategies.
I therefore avail myself of this opportunity to express the AUC’s readiness to join efforts with you in developing a mechanism that will promote economic growth and investments in Africa. I encourage all investors, both small and large businesses, to make full use of this event and it is my hope that the Forum will conclude successfully by bringing together business and investment opportunities between Africa and the rest of the world.
H.E Dr. Anthony Mothae Maruping
Commissioner for Economic Affairs
Africa Union Commission