Qatar and Ethiopia have a “huge investment potential” in the field of agriculture, ambassador Samia Zekaria said during the Ethiopian Business Forum (EBF) held recently in Doha.

“There are 22 industrial parks or economic zones, 12 of which governmental and 10 are private. About seven of them are already operational, the remaining are under construction, looking for investors to embark on. This will be a good opportunity for the government of the State of Qatar and the Qatari businessmen to have more investments in Ethiopia.

“Particularly, the huge investment potential in agri-business and agro-processing will serve the interests of both the nations. There are still tremendous potentials and opportunities to exploit, which will further strengthen the everlasting relations and mutual benefit,” Zekaria said in her welcome speech.

The ambassador noted that the top leaders of both the countries have agreed to further promote relations in investment and trade. She said three high-level state visits have been undertaken during the last three years alone.

In April 2017, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani visited Ethiopia and met his counterpart, and signed various agreements and MoUs. In November of the same year, former Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn paid a state visit to Qatar.

In March 2019, Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed and his delegation paid an official state visit to Qatar and held talks with HH the Amir on topics of mutual interests and co-operation. The visits have prompted further enhancement of the relations between the two countries, Zekaria said, noting that leaders of both countries have agreed to transform the good relations established in the diplomatic and political sectors into the economic sector as well.

“Some companies from Qatar have already shown interest in investing in Ethiopia's agriculture, hospitality and health sectors. In terms of trade, Ethiopia has always been ready and started to present its high-quality and fresh agricultural products such as beef, live animals and cattle, coffee, spices, fruits, and vegetables to the Qatar market,” she said.

Zekaria added: “The robust economic growth and political stability have now generated an ideal basis for Ethiopia to become one of the top 10 leading investment destinations in Africa. It has untapped and attractive investment potential in the fields of agriculture, tourism, trade, infrastructure, health, education, mining, and manufacturing.”

Mohamed R Massani, founder and chairman of KON, which organised the EBF in collaboration with the Ethiopian embassy, said Ethiopia’s agriculture sector plays a central role in the life and livelihood of most Ethiopians.

“About 12mn smallholder farming households account for an estimated 95% of agricultural production and 85% of all employment,” Massani said.

He added: “Ethiopia has about 55.2mn cattle, 29mn sheep and the same number of goats, 4.5mn camels, and close to 50mn poultry. It produces currently about 1,128 metric tonnes of meat, 174mn eggs, and 5.2bn litres of milk per year. In addition, it provides about 68mn tonnes of organic fertiliser, and almost 617mn days in animal traction.”

During the forum, KON partner and chairperson Hissa al-Suwaidi was moderator of a panel discussion participated in by Zemedeneh Negatu, global chairman of Fairfax Africa Fund, and Feisal Aliyi Abrahim, chief of mission at the Embassy of Ethiopia in Qatar.

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