A United Arab Emirates (UAE) delegation which made a two-day trip to Ethiopia, advised the Ethiopian government to open up the economy
so the country could reach its full potential.
During his visit from February 5 to 6, HH Sheikh Faisal Bin Saqr al Qasimi, chairman of Julphar, a gulf pharmaceutical industry, said his advice for Ethiopia is to open its market to competition as it is a healthy way of developing an economy.
Al Qasimi is also Deputy Governor of Ras Al- Khaimah, one of the seven sheikdoms which make up the United Arab Emirates.
He in particular said, based on his country’s experience, when sectors such as Airlines, Telecom and Logistics are opened up, it leads to better prices and services as well as strong growth of industries.
Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, UAE Minister for Foreign Trade, said her country, instead of relying on its extensive oil and gas resources, chose to have a diversified economy.
“We have the second share of investment inflows in the Middle East,” said Lubna, adding that the position the UAE had taken to deliberately open its market prevented complacency and created room for a strong business environment.
She further said, two decades ago, the UAE’s focus had been on infrastructure development, while today its focus had shifted to Information Communication Technology (ICT), thus allowing it to retain its status as a land of dreams and opportunities.
Lubna also said that she applauds the infrastructure development work undertaken by the Ethiopian government, such as dry ports and airport infrastructure.
Nevertheless, she said, there needs to be a creation of a certain quality of life by Ethiopia for expats in order for Ethiopia to reach its full investment and economic potential.
Areas to be explored and utilized by Ethiopia noted by the UAE delegation were abundant natural resources, livestock and its young population.
Mekonnen Manyazewal, Minister of Industry, said Ethiopia would like to learn a lot from UAE, especially in areas of service provision.
He also said that the Ethiopian government is utilizing the Emirates experience in infrastructure building and has crafted its own Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) to achieve its aims in infrastructure development.
Mekonnen continued by saying Ethiopia, apart from investing on infrastructure, is also investing in its human resources potential as well as establishing industry zones.
The UAE delegation said over 51 million people transit every year through its airspace utilizing its open sky policy, making it easier for workers and entrepreneurs alike.
They also said other pluses for the UAE’s current important position in global trade are its strong intellectual property legislation and the more than 30 free economic zones within its borders.
The UAE has bilateral trade relations with Ethiopia which was worth USD 1.35 billion in 2011. Currently, there are about 100 registered Emirati businesses in Ethiopia.
The Emirates has more than half (51 percent) of its trade with Asia, followed by the European Union (EU) at 27 percent, the US at 10 percent and 7 percent with the African continent as a whole.
Julphar officially inaugurated
Julphar Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries along with Medtech, inaugurated its manufacturing facility on Wednesday, January 6th 2013. The official opening ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Chairman of Julphar, Sheikh Faisal Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, UAE Ambassador to Ethiopia Yousif Eissa, as well as many other high-level government officials.
The Julphar project has three phases, with the first phase being the establishment of the inaugurated facility built at a cost of 170 million birr. The second phase will be expansion and the third phase will be the start of exporting products, as announced at the inauguration event.
The company, of which 45 per cent is owned by Medtech and the rest by Julphar, has already made a request to the Addis Ababa City Administration for an additional 25,000 square meters plot of land for the planned expansion estimated to cost around 350 million birr. The company has completed the feasibility study and is currently awaiting a positive response.
The expansion phase is expected to finish within two years whereby Julphar will start exporting its products to neighboring countries.
“Julphar is a real showcase for other companies looking to invest in Ethiopia. From the start, this project has fascinated me. Expansion of the facility was factored into the plans from the beginning,” said Tedros Adhanom, Minister of Foreign Affairs, who was present at the inauguration of the facility.
“We value this investment very highly and look forward to the success of this facility. We hope it will encourage future investment from the UAE,” said Sheikh Faisal Bin Saqr Al Qasimi.
Julphar’s market in Africa is significant and growing, with recent estimates of the continent’s market set at between USD 8 to 10 billion.
Ethiopia used to import USD 12 million worth of medicine from Julphar Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries, the company that is based in the UAE.