French investment is growing says France’s Ambassador to Ethiopia (waltainfo.com du 04/06/2011)

Addis Ababa, June 4 (WIC) – Jean-Christophe Belliard, Ambassador of France to Ethiopia, said that Ethiopia is attracting more investment from French companies in recent years. In an exclusive interview with WIC, the ambassador said the bilateral ties between the two countries in areas of politics, trade, culture and social aspects is growing.

“We have a lot of French companies and businessmen coming to Ethiopia”, he told WIC. “We would like that to continue”. French companies mainly engage in energy and infrastructural developments in Ethiopia.

In the past two years major business deals have been signed with big French companies such as Vergnet Group, Airbus, France Telecom and many others are showing keen interest in Ethiopia.

The 210 million euro Ashegoda Wind Farm Project, the 2.9 billion dollars aircraft supply deal between Ethiopian airlines and Airbus and the 40 million dollars two years contract of management takeover of the former Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) now re-named Ethio Telecom, are business deals made in the past two years.

“What we want to do now, which is also Ethiopia’s interest, is to attract more middle and small size companies” Ambassador Belliard told WIC.

According to the ambassador, during the first three months of 2011 alone Ethiopia’s export to France has shown a 100% increase compared to the same period last year. Imports have also shown a 70% surge during the same period.

In recent times, Ethiopia is attracting huge investment from India, China and Turkey. However, investment from Europe has not been to the satisfaction of the Ethiopian Government.

“The decision to come and invest is a decision coming from private companies”, the ambassador said. “We have to convince these [European] companies to invest in Ethiopia”.

He said the Ethiopian government and the embassy of France are working to convince French companies to come and invest.

“Prime Minister Meles [Zenawi] have talked to French Organization of Businessmen in his most recent visit to France” he added. Expressing his government to support for the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Project, the ambassador backed the Ethiopian government to successfully realize the five-year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP).

“I have observed the inauguration of three dams [Gibe II, Tekeze and Tana Beles] in my two years stay” Belliard said. “Even the World Bank was saying that it was too ambitious and impossible but Ethiopia did it”.

He said that the international community will be behind Ethiopia for the successful realization of the GTP, which will be instrumental for the country to meet the MDGs by 2015.

France Development Bank has announced that it will provide 300 million euros for Ethiopia for the next three years, the ambassador told WIC.

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