Ethiopia has seen an increased Italian appetite for investment in infrastructure, agriculture, mining, manufacturing, energy and tourism, according to an EthiopianHerald report in AllAfrica.
Italian businesses have been engaged in about 200 investment projects in Ethiopia since 1994 with investments worth 6.2 billion birr ($304.15 million US).
Ethiopia wants the relationship to get stronger still, said Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Minister Dewano Kedir at the Ethio-Italy-Greek Trilateral Investment and Business Networking Forum, held recently in Addis Ababa.
Bilateral trade with Italy grew more than five-fold between 1997 and 2009 from 1 billion birr ($49 million US) in 1997 to 7.3 billion birr ($358 million US) in 2013. However, the trade balance is in favor of Italy.
Ethiopia exports to Italy include coffee, animal hides and skins. It imports from Italy manufactured goods and construction equipment.
“We in Ethiopia are committed to work hard to encourage greater Italian investment in Ethiopia,” Kedir said. “We would like to see Italy consider the establishment of specific Italian industrial zones in Ethiopia something that both China and Turkey have started to do.”
The Ethiopian embassy is working to show the real picture of Ethiopia to Italians, said Henok Haile-Gebrial, Ethiopian embassy counselor to Italy.
“For (a) long time Italians did not have clear and right picture about Ethiopia,” Haile-Gebrial said. “They consider Ethiopia as a place where there is no ample opportunity. We are trying give them opportunities available and incentives are provided by the government.”
Sectors such as textile and garment, leather and leather products are helping open Italians’ eyes to Ethiopia, he said.