EU to Provide 40b in Grants to Help Create Jobs in AfricaThe European Union Commission fully supports the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and is proposing a 40 billion Euro package to attract investments that would create at least 10 million jobs in Africa.

This was revealed by Ambassador Ranieri Sabatucci, the EU Ambassador to the African Union, in an opening address to a two-day Horn of Africa AfCFTA forum focusing on the pharmaceutical industry.

“As was highlighted by the EU Commission President, Juncker, in his state of the union speech in September last year, referring to the AfCFTA, he expressed the wish that the long term perspective is to create a comprehensive continent to continent free trade agreement between EU and Africa,” he said.

He said to prepare for this, economic partnership agreements, free trade agreements, “including the deep and comprehensive free trade areas and others in the countries north of Africa and other trade issues with the EU should be exploited to the greatest extent as building blocks to the benefit of the AfCFTA”.

The ambition is to further increase African exports and to attract investment, including to manufacturing and processing sectors and to encourage the creation of regional value chains through flexible rules of origin, Mr. Sabatucci.

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Orange Considers Entering Ethiopias Telecoms MarketOrange, France’s number one telecoms operator, considers entering Ethiopia’s telecoms market. Ethiopia is among countries whose telecoms industry remains in the hands of the government.

Orange is one of the leading contenders seeking to benefit from the end of state-controlled Ethio Telecom’s monopoly, pushed by Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed.

Sources told Reuters earlier this month that the government aimed to award telecom licenses by the end of 2019, with the new operators expected to launch services next year.

Ethiopia’s Minister of Finance, Ahmed Shide, recently said that Ethio telecom will be split into an infrastructure provider and telecom services provider before it is privatized.

According to Reuters, Africa and the Middle East is Orange’s fastest-growing region for the telecoms group, which controls 17 operators on the continent.

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IPDC signs Agreement with Huajian GroupEthiopian Industrial parks Development Corporation (IPDC) has signed an agreement with Huajian Group that enables the latter to takeover all the sheds of Jimma Industrial Park.

The Huajian Group will invest in coffee processing with local farmers and build a vocational center for youth, according to the agreement.

Briefing to journalists, Ethiopian Investment Commissioner Abebe Abebayehu said “Huajian Group will cooperate with famous Chinese companies in the field by adding values to the products as the consumption of coffee is growing rapidly in China.

“We will also expand widely coffee processing companies in the area in the future as coffee is abundant around Jimma,” the commissioner stated.

Industrial Parks Development Corporation CEO, Lelise Neme said the corporation expects the company to create direct and indirect job opportunities for over 12,000 compatriots.

Zhang Huarong, President of Huajian Group said on his part we are very confident of our investment in Jimma and the company will serve the local market by producing apparel, shoes, construction materials, furniture and other products that the local market demands.

He further said that the company will focus on coffee processing and export to the global market, it was learned.

Source: EIC Public Relations Directorate

Ethiopia to Begin Fourth Round Negotiations to Join WTOThe National Technical Committee formed to realize Ethiopia’s membership to the World Trade Organization (WTO) will start fourth round negotiations, according to the Chief Negotiator.

The newly formed ten-member technical committee has been making preparations for the negotiations, it was learned. Ethiopia started the accession process to WTO 15 years ago. Though the country conducted three round negotiations in the past, it was unable to join the organization.

Policy Reform Senior Adviser to the Prime Minister, Chairperson and Chief Negotiator of the national committee, Mamo Meheretu said various documents are prepared to begin the process again.

According to him, being a member will have significant contribution to job creation, export and industry. For this reason, negotiations will begin based on the necessary documents prepared for the fourth round negotiation, Mamo added.

Among the documents is the revised tax ceiling on import goods to be discussed and approved, according to ENA. The Chief Negotiator pointed out that the committee will also discuss separately service sectors which are going to be opened for competition.

He stated that the responses given to questions raised previously by WTO member countries will be examined closely. Mamo further stressed that the fourth round of negotiation will be held in a manner that respects the rights and interests of Ethiopia.

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MTN Looks to Enter Ethiopia as Its Market Moves to OpenOne of the world's largest telecommunications companies, MTN Group Ltd. has identified Ethiopia as a rare new market into which Africa’s largest wireless carrier wants to expand.

“There are a few large markets that are under-penetrated and where there is scope for a No. 1 or No. 2 operator, like Ethiopia,” Chief Executive Officer Rob Shuter said in an interview at Bloomberg’s London office. “That’s obviously one where we would be really excited to participate, in some way.’’

The move would fit with the Shuter’s focus on markets in which the carrier can be a major player, and where there’s an opportunity to seize on a consumer shift to mobile banking and other data services from voice. He’s been pulling MTN out of regions that don’t fit that strategy and is looking to sell holdings where it doesn’t have a controlling stake.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said last year he is looking to bring in private investors to the country’s telecommunications sector for the first time, prompting interest from operators keen to tap into Africa’s second-biggest population and one of its fastest-growing economies.

The Horn of Africa nation is currently dominated by Ethio Telecom, a state monopoly. Vodacom Group Ltd., MTN’s Johannesburg rival, has also shown an interest to invest in the country.

Source: Bloomberg