The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is inviting Indian investors/entrepreneurs to partake of blistering growth of its economy.

The east African nation has survived alternating monarchic and military regimes and a ‘needless war’ with Eritrea to log 11 per cent growth during the last nine years.

OPENING UP

“We’re opening up to the world,” said Zenebu Tadesse, Federal Minister for Women, Youth and Children, and Gennet Zewide, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary at the Ethiopian Embassy in New Delhi.

Leading an official delegation to India, they met Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Cabinet colleagues.

The Kerala chapter of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) hosted the visit of the Ethiopian delegation to the State.

Ethiopia has managed to get the better of its essentially ‘landlocked’ status thanks to single-minded focus on infrastructure, health, education, telecom and railways, Gennet Zewide told Business Line.

KERALA MISSION

It enjoys the confidence of neighbouring Djibouti and its port facility to carry out essential trade with the outside world, Tadesse said.

The mission in Kerala was to learn from the experience in women empowerment and child development which is without parallel elsewhere, the Minister said.

Commendable infant/maternal mortality records and high participation of women in development were other features that endeared Kerala to the African nation.

Both the Minister and the envoy to New Delhi spoke highly of the Kudumbashree model of women’s empowerment, which was something they wanted to replicate.

INDIAN GUIDANCE

The visiting dignitaries were introduced to women representatives of a grama panchayat from Malappuram district.

During the 20 years since it became a federal democratic republic, Ethiopia has looked to India for guidance in these areas, including allocation of resources to different levels of administration.

Information technology was another sector that drew the delegation’s interest in Kerala. It was impressed by the infrastructure capabilities of Technopark here.

Here again, the extent of women’s participation was laudatory, the Minister said. There are significant takeaways for Ethiopia here as well, she said, adding that the country looked forward to opportunities for experience sharing and technical assistance.

FARM INVESTMENTS

Separately, the Ambassador said that the country was throwing open its land to investors from abroad for lease for agricultural purposes.

The lease can extend to as long as 40 years in the case of perennial crops and 25 years for shorter-duration crops.

She cited the case of Bengaluru-based Karuturi group, which has extensive floriculture holdings in the country.

Its Kenyan holdings may account for largest exports of cut flowers to Holland, but when it came to quality, the Ethiopian harvest was on top.

Investors from both Sri Lanka and India are looking to set up rubber plantations in Ethiopia, the Ambassador said.

vinson.kurian@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 28, 2012)
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