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Ethiopian economy grows 10.6% among the highest in the worldInterview with Minister Bereket Simon of Industry Study &Research Coordination of Ethiopia

Question: What are the areas where Korean business companies are actively engaged at present and are most welcome in Ethiopia in the future? What are the following Korean companies doing in Ethiopia, Samsung Business Group, Daewoo Engineering & Construction? Who are other Korean companies in Ethiopia actively contributing to the promotion of economic cooperation between Korea and Ethiopia?
Answer:
Obviously, industrial development and engaging in industrial sector would be one of the areas which we most welcome Korean companies. Ethiopia has one hundred million people and economy is growing for the last 15 years annually. Economy has been growing at 10.6% on average. That is one of the highest in the world and one of the highest in Africa. Looking at this, many companies are coming. There are a lot of companies from the west. There are many opportunities. There are many areas of intervention which can be beneficial for all parties, textile industry, car assembly, electronics… any value addition areas can be offered. So far, Samsung is doing some joint assembly for refrigerators, printers with some Ethiopian companies. We are starting projects Hyundai car assembly. Youngone textile.
They invested in millions of dollars. Tens of millions of dollars. It is growing by the day.
We are expecting 10 to 15 thousands Ethiopians to be employed. Hopefully, they will extend.

Minister Bereket Simon of Industry Study & Research Coordination of Ethiopia (left) interviewed by Publisher Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post media.

For Samsung, basically, electronics and household equipment are the areas where they involved. But it is promising business. They have very good educational support to our universities, teaching your youngsters in IT.
In the early years of our development, Daewoo construction worked there. Keangnam also was involved in road construction. Korean companies are now coming much more.

Q: What is the main purpose of the visit of Your Excellency to Korea this time?
A:
This is an experience sharing visit to learn from extensive experiences of Korean development. That is the main purpose of our visit. Especially, in this year, we are here to study experiences of financial management for the purpose of development. We have been granted to have so many workshops, presentations and learned quite a lot for such a short period of time. In all places we went, Koreans were very good to us. All were well-prepared and gave us detailed experiences of Koreans.
We have missions to study and do research on basic policy matters and propose to the Government, so that the government has properly studied and well-informed about policy alternatives to implement in Ethiopia. Basically, it is policy research institute.

Q: What are the most important areas for increased cooperation between Korea and Ethiopia?
A:
As you know, Korea pursued developmental path and had been able to develop in less than half century. There are a lot of things to learn from Korea. In Ethiopia, basically, Korean economic model, which has market-friendly but also selected government intervention policy directions that you pursued here, are one of the areas where we have to learn. In terms of economic cooperation, there are a lot of Korean big companies, world-class companies, who have capability to invest in Ethiopia. That can be one area. In education and other social factors, we believe that you have built very good model where we can share the experiences in terms of improving Ethiopian education standards. Development of social capital also would be one area where we would like to cooperate. As we see, starting from the rural areas, Korea has made significant progress in the last 50-60 years in terms of developing its social capital. So, that’s an area. We have also potential to cooperate in infrastructure development. As Ethiopia is currently marking on infrastructure development, there are a lot of areas of cooperation between Korea and Ethiopia. Currently, one of the biggest dams in the world is being built on Nile River in Ethiopia. The renaissance dam. We have many projects. We have railway construction projects, dam construction projects, road construction projects and Electric and irrigation projects as well. There are a lot of areas where we can cooperate. Korean companies can come, compete and contribute in construction and development of Ethiopia. We have a lot of win-win projects for Ethiopia and Korea.

Minister Bereket Simon of Ethiopia (third from left) poses Publisher Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post media (right) and President Kim Hyung-dae (left) and Korean-language Editor Linda Youn (second from left).

Q: What are the priority areas of economic development and growth in Ethiopia?
A:
For now, number one is agriculture, because 80/5 of population live in the rural areas and they are based on agriculture. We have commitment to develop our agriculture, which has done very well in the last 15 years. We have increased production by almost four fold. Productivity is increasing very fast in rural areas. Next to agriculture, we focus on industry. All kinds of industry are priority areas. Certainly, the government is heavily involved in infrastructure development. For foreign investors, I think modern agriculture which can be done in vast areas can be one source of investment. On the other hand, all kinds of industrial development will be also the areas.
Ethiopia is very famous for coffee. We are the origin of coffee. We have one of the best Arabica Coffee.

Q: Please state whatever other details Ethiopia might have concerning the bright outlook of the economic development and growth of Ethiopia?
A:
We have very good policies, stable country, contributing peace in Africa and the region. We are also a country which is engaged in very much excessive infrastructure development. We are expanding our water resource to develop hydro-electric power. We have large animal population, cattle which can be developed for meat as well as leather industry. We have also big potential in sugar industry. In the industrial fields, Ethiopia is very suitable for all kinds of investment. We have good relations between us and our neighbor countries. Most of them have good trade relationship. That can serve for regional markets.

Minister Bereket Simon of Ethiopia (second from left) interviewed by Publisher Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post media (third from left) and President Kim Hyung-dae (right) and Korean-language Editor Linda Youn (left).

Q: Please introduce in detail the personal history of Your Excellency.
A:
My name is Bereket Simon and I am a member of the ruling party, one of the founders. I worked together with the Prime Minsiter Meles Zenawi for the last 32 years. He now passed away. Currently, I am working as an advisor to the Prime Minister in the industrial policy matters. Excerpts from the personal history statement of Minister Simon:
Date of birth: August 1, 1957
Experience in Government Offices:-
2013-Upto now Policy and Research Advisor to the Prime Minister of the FDRE. with the rank of Minister.
Minister for Government Communications Affairs of the FDRE. Director-General for the popular participation office of the Renaissance Dam.
Chair person of the Board of Directors of the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE).
Minister of Information of the FDRE.
Advisor to the former Prime Minister of the FDRE/PMMZ/ with the rank of Minister
PM, House of the Peoples Representatives of the FDRE .
MP, House of Representatives of the transitional government of Ethiopia /TGE/.
Board Chairperson of the Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency IERTAI.
Board Chairperson of the Agricultural Inputs Supply Company
Board chairperson of Tiret the Amahara region Endowment Fund for Development.
Experience in Party Offices
1980-1994: Member of the Central Committee and the Executive Committee of the Ethiopian People's Democratic Movement/EPDM/.
Member of the Central Committee and Executive Committee of the Amhara National Democratic Movement IANDMI.
Member of the general Council Executive Committee of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front /EPRDF/.
Head of the EPRDF main office.
Member of the Editorial Committee for "New Vision".

Park So-yeon  edt@koreapost.com

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