As a key player in the socio-economic transformation of the region and major contenders in securing foreign direct investment (FDI) with an aim of strengthening Ethiopia’s economic development agenda, East African Holding S.C. is intent on supporting flagship initiatives geared towards elevating the role of  Africa’s private sector, especially as it relates to East Africa’s Trade and Investment Development objectives.

In line with this commitment, Managing Director of the EAH’s corporate services and family office division, Mr. Micheal Buzuayehu attended the African CEO Roundtable Conference, on behalf of East African Holdings Chairman, Ato. Buzuayehu Tadele on the 14-15th of March 2022.

The conference was held at the Dubai 2020 Expo and hosted by the African Union Commission. The African Union Commission facilitated a series of in-depth discussions on private sector development, trade and investments in Africa.

The theme of this year’s CEO Roundtable Conference, “Leveraging Agenda 2063 for Private Sector, Trade and Investments Development in Africa” and the diversified family-owned business’ key aspirations are clearly aligned and aimed at accomplishing the full array of agenda items at the conference.

In discussion with the various panelists present at the roundtable conference, Mr. Micheal Buzuayehu summarized these aspirations and noted the vital importance of a dynamic construction sector as a driver for prompting positive economic reform, infrastructure development and GDP growth. This is especially relevant following the continent’s loss of roughly 45%  in economic activity due to Covid-19.

Mr. Buzuayehu also stressed the importance of joint venture partnerships as a key element of African development. East African Holding recently entered into a partnership with West China Cement. Together, the China based cement manufacturer, a leading cement company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and National Cement, a subsidiary of East African Holding have committed to fund over USD $600 million towards the joint venture partnership’s first phase of projects.

Upon its completion, the joint venture is expected to create job opportunities for over 20,000 locals and bring significant investment of about USD $2.2 billion into the nation.

Mr. Buzuayehu highlighted the significance of joint ventures such as National Cement and West China Cement and remarked that such partnerships will not only help meet the nations ever-growing demand for cement/building materials but also serve as a model for the rest of Africa and be seen as a positive vote of confidence in Ethiopia’s path to economic viability.

Mr. Buzuayehu also added that the “forex crunch” is proving to be a major disincentive for foreign direct investment. The Ethiopian government must find ways to help facilitate repatriation of FDI earnings/profits in foreign exchange currencies.

Nonetheless, Mr. Micheal says it’s not all doom and gloom. The Managing Director stated that despite these challenges, Ethiopia’s economic liberalization agenda is well underway and is already resulting several economic sectors opening up, most notably, the financial services sector which will enable the long-awaited entry of foreign banks into the market and ease the forex constraints currently hindering the nation’s economic growth and development.

He went on to express his confidence in the nation generating forex through exports, the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (ACFTA) and its potential for regional integration, maximizing inter-African trade, investments and job creation.

Mr. Buzuayehu was also sure to highlight the necessity for regulatory reform mentioning that it is of “immense importance” to improve Africa’s business environment and the ease of doing business in emerging markets like that of Ethiopia.

Furthermore, he added that “unlocking business sectors previously held under state monopoly, reducing red tape and revising taxes policies, easing of forex regulations and stabilizing the exchange rate should be given high priority by African governments.”

Mr. Buzuayehu expressed his hope that other African countries will follow suit by launching their own sovereign wealth fund and establishing institutions that bear a resemblance to that of  Ethiopia Investment Holdings (EIH) to assist the management of assets in telecoms, mining and banking.

Mr. Buzuayehu concluded: “it is my utmost honor to represent our Chairman and our company at the African CEO’s Roundtable Conference.” The conference touched upon many urgent and pressing economic issues in Africa. Mr. Buzuayehu went on to add, “I am encouraged by the curiosity of African leaders and CEOs eyeing Ethiopia as one of the top investment destinations in Africa. I believe by attending similar forums we can continue to spread the narrative of Ethiopia being a key investment hub for Africa.”

PUBLISHED ON Mar 21,2022 [ VOL 22 , NO 1143]

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