UPDATE : 2019.4.24 WED 15:24
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‘Ethiopia expected to make 11% economic growth this year’Interview with Ambassador Shiferaw Jarso Tedecha of Ethiopia in Seoul

By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik with Reporter Ms. Sua Kim

The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is obviously in good hands and is in for a rapid economic development and remarkable improvement in all spheres of society in the country. This became immediately apparent at a recent interview with Ambassador Shiferaw Jarso Tedecha of Ethiopia in Seoul conducted by The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language news media established 33 years ago in 1985.
Speaking at the exclusive interview with Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post, Ambassador Shiferaw said, without a sign of hesitation, “The economic growth in my country is expected to stay high and make an 11 percent growth this year, supported by continued recovery from droughts and export expansion as new manufacturing facilities and infrastructure come online—offsetting the potentially dampening impact of restrictive macroeconomic policies.”

Ambassador Shiferaw Jarso Tedecha of Ethiopia in Seoul

“Over the medium term,” said Ambassador Shiferaw, “growth is expected to remain around 8 percent, supported by sustained expansion in exports and investment.”
Then he said: “The authorities’ policies envisaged under the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II) are expected to underpin domestic private sector development and FDI. The GTP II also envisages allocating significant resources to poverty alleviation and the social safety net, while efforts to strengthen financial inclusion are underway.”
Ambassador Shiferaw obviously had a remarkable thesaurus of knowledge of the economy of his country and various other areas which was essential in Korea today, who wants to substantially increase and expand the range of her cooperation in the economic, trade and various other areas. Ethiopia, the way Ambassador Shieraw introduced his country, appeared to be one of the best countries in the world with whom Korea can increase cooperation and collaboration and for mutual benefits. Excerpts from the interview follow:

Ambassador Shiferaw Jarso Tedecha of Ethiopia poses with Publisher Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post after an interview.

Question: Please introduce the Head of Government of your esteemed country in detail, including his major achievements especially in the area of economic development.
The Prime Minister of Ethiopia is the Head of Ethiopian government. The current Prime Minister of Ethiopia is H.E. Mr. Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe (born 19 July 1965). He is an Ethiopian politician who currently serves as Prime Minister of Ethiopia. He previously served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs under Prime Minister Meles Zenawi from 2010 to 2012. After Meles' death in August 2012, Hailemariam succeeded him as Prime Minister, initially in an acting capacity. He was then elected as the Chair of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the ruling party, on 15 September 2012. Hailemariam also served as the Chairperson of the African Union from 2013 to 2014.

Early life:
Hailemariam was born in 1965 in the Boloso Sore District Hombba of the Wolayita Zone in southern Ethiopia. Hailemariam is of the Wolayta ethnic group of Ethiopia, the second largest in Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region (SNNPR). His family belongs to the Apostolic Church of Ethiopia, a Oneness Pentecostal denomination that is not part of the mainstream Ethiopian Protestant Christianity (Pentay), which believes in Trinitarianism. Married to Roman Tesfaye, he is well known to be both a religious and family man.

EIC is a government agency established to promote, encourage and facilitate private investments in general and foreign investment in particular in Ethiopia.

In 1988, Hailemariam received a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Addis Ababa University. He subsequently worked as a graduate assistant in the Arba Minch Water Technology Institute (now Arba Minch University). After two years of working in this capacity, he won a scholarship to Tampere University of Technology in Finland, where he earned a master's degree in sanitation engineering. Upon his return to Ethiopia, he served in different academic and administrative capacities, including the dean of the Water Technology Institute, for 13 years. In between, he also earned an MA in Organizational Leadership at Azusa Pacific University, California, US.

Political career:
Hailemariam was President of the SNNPR from November 2001 to March 2006 and was promoted to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs in October 2010. He has been Deputy Chairman of EPRDF, Chairman of SEPDM, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. He has served as Vice President of the SNNPR (2000–2002); President of the SNNPR (2002–2005); Member of the House of People’s Representatives (2005–present); Social Affairs Special Advisor to the PM, then Public Mobilization & Participation Special Advisor to the Prime Minister (2005–2008); Government Chief Whip, with a Ministerial portfolio (2008–2010). Party Posts: Member of the Executive Committee of the EPRDF and the SEPDM (2000–present); Chairman of the SEPDM (2002–present); Deputy Chairman of the EPRDF (since Sept 2010). After his tenure as President of the SNNPR, Hailemariam worked in the Prime Minister's Office as the advisor on Social Affairs and Civic Organizations and Partnerships for two years. Following the death of Ethiopia's longtime Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on 20 August 2012, Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam was appointed as the acting Premier. Hailemariam became the permanent Prime Minister on 21 September 2012.

Major achievements:
Ethiopia has recorded annual average GDP growth of about ten percent in the last decade, driven by public investments in agriculture and infrastructure. The poverty rate has fallen from 44 percent in 2000 to 23.5 percent in 2015/16. In 2016/17 GDP growth is estimated at 9 percent, as agriculture rebounded from severe drought conditions in 2015/16. Industrial activity expanded, with continued investments in infrastructure and manufacturing. The current account deficit declined in 2016/17 to 8.2 percent of GDP from 9.1 percent the previous year, reflecting lower drought-related imports and lower public sector capital goods imports. However, export revenues were largely unchanged despite significant volume growth, as global agricultural commodity prices remained low. Foreign direct investment (FDI) growth was 27.6 percent due to investments in the new industrial parks and privatization inflows. International reserves at end-2016/17 stood at US$3.2 billion (1.8 months of prospective imports cover).
In October 2017, the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) devalued the birr by 15 percent relative to the U.S. dollar, thereby reducing overvaluation and enhancing competitiveness. Simultaneously, the NBE increased interest rates and adopted a restrictive stance to minimize adverse effects on inflation—which was 13.6 percent in November 2017. Since October 2016, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation (MOFEC) implemented further cuts in external borrowing by the government and public enterprises (SOEs), and reduced outstanding non-concessional commercial debt. The general government deficit outturn in 2016/17 was 3.4 percent of GDP (including privatization) and the 2017/18 budget speech announced additional consolidation policies, with the budget deficit projected at 2.5 percent of GDP.
Growth is expected to stay high in 2017/18, at 11 percent, supported by continued recovery from droughts and export expansion as new manufacturing facilities and infrastructure come online—offsetting the potentially dampening impact of restrictive macroeconomic policies. Over the medium term, growth is expected to remain around 8 percent, supported by sustained expansion in exports and investment. The authorities’ policies envisaged under the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II) are expected to underpin domestic private sector development and FDI. The GTP II also envisages allocating significant resources to poverty alleviation and the social safety net, while efforts to strengthen financial inclusion are underway.

Ethiopian pulses

The current President of Ethiopia:
The position is largely a ceremonial one, with executive power effectively being exercised by the Prime Minister of Ethiopia. The current president is Mulatu Teshome, who took office on 7 October 2013. Presidents are elected by the House of Peoples' Representatives for six years, with a two-term limit.

Q: Economic cooperation is very important between countries today, and Korea is no exception. Who are the major Korean companies actively engaged in bilateral economic cooperation with Korea? Please introduce them in detail in the order of size and scale of business activities in Korea.
There are many Korean companies actively engaged in business in Ethiopia.
Construction field: Kyeongnam Enterprises, Ltd. The company completed 8 roads (totaling $290 million) and 3 AfDB and WB road construction projects are underway, employing a total of 10,000 local people since 1997.
The company made large investments in Ethiopia beginning in 1997 and employs a total of 10,000 Ethiopians and 45 Koreans.
Then there is the Myungsung Medical Center, which established the Myeongseong Hospital in 2004 (at a total cost of 5.27 million USD). The Center also established the College of Fame Medicine in 2012 and the College of Fame Medicine in 2012.
Also contributing the economic development of Ethiopia is Daewoo E&C which started express way construction since 2016. The first road project was completed and the company is ready to start its second project.
Then there is Hyosung which is taking procedures for the construction of an Electric Power network.
In the area of textile and apparel field, there BM Ethiopia Garment & Textile S.C. which, from: 2010 a total of 13 million USD. The factory size is: 39,860㎡ and the number of labor employed totals 1,000 local people.
There also is Shin TS who started investment from 2014. The company produces apparel products (sportswear) and has a factory with a floor space of 38,500㎡. The company employs about 4,000 local people.
Then is Youngone Corporation who started business in Ethiopia in 2016.
In the area of electronics, there is the LG Electronics who are working together with Metro PLC and running assembling line for TV with annual capacity of 72,000 sets.
Other companies include EKOS Steel PLC with a factory size of 100,000s/m. The company produces steel bars and its annual output capacity is 150,000 tons.
There also Pung kook Corporation, Angel Corporation for Wig production, and Wooam Corporation for IT solutions.

Ethiopian coffee ceremony

Q: What is the present volume of bilateral trade, its outlook in the next 12 months?
The volume of trade between the two countries has been increasing overtime. The total trade volume between the two countries which was 74 million USD in the year 2006 has increased to 230 million USD in 2016, result in 210 percent increment within 10 years. Ethiopia imported heavy construction equipment, medicine, etc. and Exports to Korea coffee, vegetables, leather, etc. The export of Coffee accounted 97% of the total export to Korea. Major Ethiopian specialty coffees such as Yirga cheffe, Sidama, Aricha …are well known by Korean consumer.
Although the trade exchange has increased over the year, there is a positional for much more improvement. I believe that, there is also a good opportunity of strengthening trade between the two countries that Korean trading companies have shown interest to buy Ethiopia’s high value agricultural products such as coffee, sesame, flowers, textiles, leather and leather products destined for the Korean big market.

Q: What are the areas in your country where Korean companies are wanted to invest?
a) Agricultural Sector; Focused on the investment of
- Agro-Processing and Livestock processing area.
- Factory Farming companies.
- Agro-Processing machineries
- Packing Machinery companies.
b) Pharmaceutical Sector;
c) Construction Sector; Construction material manufacturing factories
- Infra structure focused on Hydro power Plant
- Housing for New Town construction
- Tooling Market
- Construction Machineries
- Renewable Energy.
d) Electronic sector; J.V factory for assembling line by knock down system
e) Machineries
f) Auto Parts
g) Mining Development

Ethiopian coffee farm

Q: What are the tourist major attractions in your country, especially those many Korean tourists go?

A: The country has been praised for its outstanding natural beauty, dramatic landscapes and ancient culture, rich history and hospitable people. Ethiopia, attracted by its breath taking national parks, 3,000 year-old archeological history and nine tangible and 2 intangible UNESCO world heritage sites, which positioned the country the first in Africa. The country also known as ‘land of origin’, where our ancestors walk first, the origin of Coffee, the country gift to the world and the origin of blue Nile, the longest river in the world that considered as the source of civilization.
Tourism in Ethiopia is highlighted by quite a variety of attractions. Some of these top attractions in Ethiopia include the monolithic rock-hewn churches with breath taking architectural designs in the ancient city of Lalibela. There are 11 rock-hewn churches each carved out of a single block of granite.
Fasil Ghebbi is another major asset for tourism in Ethiopia. This was the residence of the Ethiopian emperors during the 16th and 17th Century. The area contains palaces, churches, monasteries and unique public and private buildings.
The Simian Mountains National Park was inscribed as a Natural World Heritage Site in 1979, whereupon UNESCO lauded it as “one of the world’s most spectacular landscapes, with jagged mountain peaks deep valleys and sharp precipices dropping some 1,500m”. The park located in the north part of the country, its territory covers the Semien Mountains and includes Ras Dashan, the highest point in Ethiopia. This UNESCO World Heritage is home to a number of endangered species, including the Ethiopian wolf and the Walia ibex, a wild goat found nowhere else in the world. The gelada baboon and the caracal, a cat, also occur within the Simien Mountains. More than 50 species of birds inhabit the park.
Another beautiful attraction that inviting many tourists all over the world is Danakil Depression, located in the Afar Region. It is one of the hottest places on earth, recording temperatures of up to 125 degrees Celsius. The Danakil Depression is covered by impressive expanses of yellow mounds of sulfur, salt and mineral deposits.
Ethiopia is also a perfect centre for safari and adventure tourism. The country has several parks including Awash National Park, Bale Mountains National Park, Omo National Park among others that are suitable for this special kind of tourism.
These and others tangible and intangible world heritages, rich history and culture of the country have been attracting many tourists worldwide including Koreans. Korean tourists although do not have much travel experience to African due to misunderstanding of the continent, currently tour operators has showing effort by promoting African program for potential tourists. Thus, recently, the number of Korean tourists has increased to Africa in general, to Ethiopia in particular. In this regard, Medias should play a major role in showing the bright side and immense tourism potential of the continent.

Kim Su-a  edt@koreapost.com

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