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Ethiopia woos Kenyan investors

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 7- The government of Ethiopia is now inviting Kenyan entrepreneurs to channel their money to the Horn of African nation, which it says is a new and viable market that has good returns on investments.

Ethiopia Investment Agency Secretary General Abi Woldemeskel said on Friday that his country offers many incentives ranging from tax exemptions to the availability of cheaper power for people wishing to exploit the enormous opportunities that exist there.

"The government encourages the export-oriented industries and so export incentive schemes have been put in place.  For example, all export commodities are exempted from the payment of export taxes," he said.

A foreign investor, he explained, was also allowed to remit his profits and dividends; repatriate his capital in foreign currency as well as retain 20 percent of his export earnings.

This is in addition to the cheap labour, laws that guarantees private properties and availability of raw materials that are at the investors\’ disposal.

Speaking during an Ethiopian-Kenyan Investment Forum, the SG revealed that the two countries will soon sign a bilateral agreement which would make it easier for their private sectors to trade.

"We are in the process of concluding the Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Treaty with the Kenyan government to give more guarantees and protection (to the investors)," he said.

At the forum was Industrialist Chris Kirubi, who vouched for the country as a top investment destination and urged the business community from the two countries to push their governments and have them open up their markets to facilitate trade between them.

"We need to know what issues there are and see how we can get our two governments to enable us do what we do best – business. Let us wake up and smell the coffee, let us go to Ethiopia and Ethiopians please come to Kenya," he posed.

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Mr Kirubi wondered why Africa looks to the West (for trade and investments) when there is so much untapped potential in the continent but pointed out that such partnerships would enable not only the region but the rest of the continent to grow in leaps and bounds.

"Why keep on asking an American to come here to invest and then take all the profits to America? When will Africa say come and invest and keep the profits in Africa," he asked.

The governments were also challenged to create favourable climates, policies and infrastructure links for doing business.

Also present at the meeting was the Chief of Party for USAID funded Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance and AGOA Addis Alemayehou who said they plan to have more of such initiatives aimed at sensitizing the business community on what the 74-million Ethiopian market offers.

"We want to bring a delegation of Kenyan investors to Ethiopia, we also want to do a major event where the Kenyan press can come to Ethiopia and see first-hand because I think it is the press that needs to inform the public in regards to what the reality on the ground is in Ethiopia," he added.
These measures, he was hopeful, would help create the much needed exposure and awareness on Ethiopia as an upcoming investment hub in the region.

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