Den etiopiska staten satsar hårt på att locka utländska investeringar och unga utbildade ur diasporan. Möt klubbägaren Amare Reda, rektorn Bayo Mengistu-Mattson och entreprenören Brox Worku som återvänt från Sverige.
Published: Aug 2, 2011 00:46 Updated: Aug 2, 2011 01:09
RIYADH: Ethiopia has pledged to work closely with Saudi Arabia to boost bilateral ties, especially in the manpower and agriculture sectors.
Ethiopian President Girma Wolde-Giorgis, who was released from a Riyadh hospital on Sunday after a routine medical check-up, made the vow to forge closer ties and to support the Kingdom’s ambitious food security initiative in an exclusive interview with Arab News in the capital Sunday night.
Girma, while providing an overview of progressively growing relations between Riyadh and Addis Ababa, pointed out that about 10,000 maids out of the 30,000 female workers recruited so far from the second most populous African country have arrived in the Kingdom.
He described Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia as friends and partners currently working together in several areas. Girma, 87, was admitted to the Riyadh-based Armed Forces Hospital for medical examinations last week.
No details were given about his health condition at the time. Some observers said that his health problem is related with his age while others said that he had acute diabetes and a heart attack. Girma, however, denied the reports.
"I have a severe leg infection, I am neither diabetic nor hypertensive." He thanked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for the hospitality and support given to him.
Referring to bilateral relations, President Girma said the Kingdom and Ethiopia have been trustworthy friends for hundreds of years. He called for increasing inter-governmental exchanges, trade and economic cooperation. He also welcomed the move by the Kingdom to choose Ethiopia for agricultural investment within the framework of King Abdullah's initiative on agriculture investment abroad for food security.
On cooperation in the manpower sector, Girma said the shortfall of workers in the Kingdom would be compensated by Addis Ababa. About 30,000 Ethiopian maids will be deployed to Saudi Arabia, said the president, adding that the Saudi side has agreed to pay a minimum monthly salary of SR1,000 to them.
This will come as a big relief for Saudi families who were desperately seeking maids from other countries after recruitment from Indonesia and the Philippines was stopped earlier this month.
In Ramadan, maids are in great demand with black market traders making huge profits. Girma promised to facilitate the deployment of Ethiopian workers within the framework of the country’s new labor laws.
He said a substantial investment in agricultural development was key to improving the quality of life across Africa. Saudi Star Agricultural Development’s investment in Ethiopian rice farming was likely to have multiple benefits for both Ethiopian rice production and Saudi rice consumption, he noted. Saudi Star is owned by billionaire Sheikh Mohammed Al-Amoudi, who has announced plans to invest $2.5 billion by 2020 in Ethiopia.
The company, based in Addis Ababa, has already leased 10,000 hectares in Ethiopia’s western Gambella region for 60 years at a cost of $9.42 per hectare annually. It plans to rent an additional 290,000 hectares from the Ethiopian government soon. The project forms part of the Horn of Africa nation’s plan to lease 3 million hectares, an area about the size of Belgium, to private investors over the next 2.5 years, according to a report published recently.
Saudi investment in farms will expand rice-producing areas and improve techniques, which in turn will also improve Ethiopia's food security and boost the local economy. Saudis are allowed 100 percent investment in projects in Ethiopia. The country has plenty of alluvial land, water and abundant labor, while Saudis have capital and technology to invest in the country. This is in addition to the close geographical proximity between the two nations.