July 12, 2022
As key players in the socio-economic transformation of the region and major contenders in securing foreign direct investment (FDI) with an aim of reinforcing 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 pertains to East Africa’s Trade and Investment Development objectives. In line with doing so, Managing Director of the company’s corporate services and family office division, Mr. Micheal Buzuayehu was in attendance at the African CEO Roundtable Conference, on behalf of East African Holding’s Chairman, Ato. Buzuayehu Tadele on the 14-15th of March 2022.
Hosted by the African Union Commission facilitated discussions around private sector development, trade and investments in Africa. A clear synergy can be seen between 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. In discussion with the various panelists present at the RT conference, Mr. Micheal Buzuayehu summarized these aspirations and noted the vital importance of a dynamic construction sector as a metric to ensure positive economic reform in terms of infrastructure development and GDP growth. This is especially relevant following the continent’s massive 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. The leading industrial conglomerate recently joined in partnership with West International Holdings. Together, the China-based leading cement manufacturer listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and National Cement, a subsidiary of East African Holdings have committed to invest over USD $600 million towards the project’s first phase. Upon its completion, the joint venture is expected to create job opportunities for over 20,000 locals and bring significant foreign direct investment into the nation of about USD 2.2 Billion. Mr. Buzuayehu highlights the significance of joint ventures like that between EAH’s National Cement and West International Holdings, West China Cement; remarking that such partnerships will not only help meet the nations ever-growing demand for cement/ building materials but will also serve as a model for the rest of Africa and a 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.
As key players in the socio-economic transformation of the region and major contenders in securing foreign direct investment (FDI) with an aim of reinforcing Ethiopia’s economic development agenda
The Ethiopian government must find ways to facilitate the repatriation of FDI earnings/profits in foreign exchange currencies. Nonetheless, Mr. Micheal says it’s not all doom and gloom. The managing director mentions that despite these prevailing challenges, Ethiopia’s economic liberalization agenda is well underway resulting in the opening of several economic sectors, 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 expansion. He went on to express his confidence in the nation generating FOREX through exports, the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (ACFTA), and it’s 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 EODB in emerging markets like that of Ethiopia. He went on to say that “unlocking business sectors previously held under state monopoly, reduction in red tape and high import taxes, easing of forex regulations and stabilization of 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 by saying, “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 emergent economic issues in Africa. The presentations were insightful and informative. “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 partaking in similar forums we can continue to spread the narrative s of Ethiopia being an attractive investment hub in Africa.”