Geda Special Economic Zone map rendering on 23,656hct of land.

Special Economic Zone that is half the size of Addis Abeba and six folds Adama town is under construction with over 46 billion Br budget. Oromia Regional State commenced Geda Special Economic Zone (GSEZ) located 65Km east of the capital with the aims of connecting it with Mojo, Adama, and Shashemane towns.

According to CEO Motuma Temesgen, domestic and international investors, developers, and enterprises are expected to join the zone. He believes collecting industrial zones and giving a one-stop service will increase foreign direct investment and highly encourages private-public partnerships.

The World Bank reports show that Ethiopia's Foreign Direct Investment rate has declined since 2016, earning 4.14 billion dollars taken as a pick season. By the end of 2020, the country has generated 2.4 billion dollars from FDI.

The Geda economic zone lies on 23,656hct of undeveloped land, of which close to 300hct is sourced from the local farmers with a 3.4 million Br compensation fee for a hectare. The 3,114hct is set to be developed in the next five years while 8,000hct is under construction.

"It's a project for the coming 40 years," said Motuma.

The GSEZ will have a free market zone, logistics centre, housing, and industrial flocks, mainly focusing on exporting quality product-producing local and international companies. Over 300 people are currently working in the economic zone, with the prospect of employing 70 million people when it is fully operational, according to the CEO.

"Companies have already started showing interest," he said, inviting prospective investors to benefit from the incentives of the Ethiopian Investment Commission.

The infrastructure of two water holes with a depth of a little over 600 meters, two reserves, an electric power substation, and projects is underway, while a five-kilometre-long asphalt road construction is being constructed by MCG construction.

Over 5,500 special economic zones are there in the world. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), over 200 are in Africa. According to Motuma, they are consulting with the Gabon Special Economic Zone on the first phase of the construction.

Last month, executives at the economic zone signed an agreement with Adama Science Technology University (ASTU) for a website domain and access development.

Hussen Adem, manager at Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) procurement office, said that they had announced a bid for the construction and installation of the GSEZ substation and plant design, manufacture and supply of Qoqa - Gelan and TL LILO to GSEZ transmission line, which was closed on September 07, 2022.

Hussen said that two Chinese companies, Sino Hydro Company and Xiang Hydropower plant, have been selected to construct this infrastructure. Yet, their contract is not signed, and they are negotiating the price. The Chinese CCECC is also studying the planting of a railway connecting the zone with the Mojo dry port, the Kenyan border, and the Ethio Djibouti railway.

Aklilu Tadesse, CEO of the Industrial Parks Development Corporation (IPDC), said that the IPDC had taken part in the planning process even though it is under the Oromia Regional State.

The Engineering Corporation of Oromia has done the study and design projects in partnership with universities and financial and tech companies. Amare Matebu (PhD), a lead researcher for Ethiopia's Industrial Development Policy Studies Centre under Policy Studies Institute, said that their institute had not received an invitation to participate in the policy studies even if it is their main turf to survey such projects. He suggests that the government should develop separate trade laws to govern free trade zones.

Nataniye Kassaye, an expert with rich experience in industrial parks under IPDC, recommends that peacekeeping in the area should be kept in mind as the significant aim is raising foreign direct investment keeping domestic and export-aimed companies in mind.

"The exaggerated budget being publicized is false," said Motuma.

PUBLISHED ON Dec 24,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1182]

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