U.S.-Ethiopia Investment Dialogue
On Tuesday, October 20, 2020, Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) hosted the “U.S.-Ethiopia Investment Dialogue”, which featured H.E. Dr. Eyob Tekalign Tolina, State Minister of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Finance, and Ethiopian Ambassador to the U.S., H.E. Ambassador Fitsum Arega. During the dialogue, moderated by Diane Wilkens, President and CEO of Development Finance International, H.E. Dr. Eyob addressed several inquiries regarding the privatization of sectors within the Ethiopian economy and the corresponding significance for international investors.
CCA President and CEO, Florizelle Liser delivered welcome remarks and emphasized the remarkable progress made by the Ethiopian government with regards to economic policy reform. She expressed CCA’s commitment to promoting business engagement between the U.S. and Ethiopia.
Ambassador Fitsum Arega in his keynote remarks highlighted the high levels of growth the Ethiopian economy has experienced in the past 15 years. Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ambassador Fitsum pointed out that the Ethiopian economy has grown by 6%. “Although the spread of the virus has affected several sectors such as travel, tourism, and entertainment, it has also opened up new doors in several other sectors.” He highlighted sectors such as healthcare, telemedicine, e-government, global financing, and e-commerce, stressing the critical role they play in Ethiopia’s economy and emphasizing their growth potential.
During the dialogue, H.E. Dr. Eyob discussed the ways in which the Ethiopian government is fostering economic growth through economic policy reform under the administration of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Minister Eyob highlighted programs launched by the Ethiopian government such as the Home-grown Economic Reform Agenda. “At the core of our ‘Home-grown Economic Reform’ is ensuring significant private sector participation in Ethiopia’s economy. In that regard, we are focusing on moving from debt financing, as we’ve done in the past to more equity financing. We are also rebalancing the role of the government in the economy by encouraging more private sector participation.”
Minister Eyob also emphasized the Ethiopian government’s interests in developing the growth potential in sectors such as ICT, agriculture, mining, and finance. In finance specifically, Minister Eyob highlighted the reform of the Ethiopian National Bank and the launch of the country’s first stock exchange market.
Minister Eyob also discussed the role of Ethiopia’s Investment Commission (EIC), chaired by PM Abiy Ahmed, which aims to closely support both national and international investors, as well as ensure inclusivity and collaboration with local institutions.
In addition, Minister Eyob also noted the political progress that has been made in Ethiopia, emphasizing the inclusiveness within the Ethiopian government, and flagging the upcoming democratic election.