Saudis invest heavily in Ethiopian farm sector


Minister of Agriculture Fahd Balghunaim, second from left, signs a cooperation agreement with Ethiopian Minister of Finance and Economic Development Sufian Ahmed in Riyadh in February 2009 (file photo: SPA)

Arab News | 29 May 2010


JEDDAH: Saudi trade and investment in Ethiopia is expanding. “The investment increase is particularly seen in the agricultural sector and is in line with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s initiative to provide food security for the Kingdom. Agricultural lands being leased by Saudis have been increasing by the day in Ethiopia,” Ethiopian Consul General Tekleab Kebede told the community at the country’s national day celebrations at the consulate over the weekend.

Kebede said many Saudis and local companies had been signing contracts with landowners across Ethiopia to produce grains and other agricultural products. “Rice produced by a prominent Saudi company was presented to the king recently,” he said.

Saudis are allowed 100 percent investment in projects in Ethiopia. “They either lease plots of land or enter into deals in cooperation with local partners,” the consul general said. Such investments are now worth millions of dollars, he added.

“We have plenty of land, water and abundant labor, while Saudis have capital. We have been giving the message to Saudis that we complement each other in boosting our bilateral business, investment and trade volumes. After all, both countries have close geographical proximity,” Kebede said.

Kebede said the bilateral trade volume had exceeded $500 million, with the balance remaining in favor of the Kingdom due to heavy oil imports into his country. “The Kingdom remains our second trading partner, with our trade continuing to increase,” he said, adding that Saudi investors were prominent in his country and have been increasingly investing in agriculture, tourism, hotels, mining and manufacturing.

The consul general said a ministerial delegation belonging to agriculture and rural development had a successful visit to the Kingdom earlier in May. “They discussed with their Saudi counterparts in Riyadh and Jeddah new proposals related to livestock and meat exports to the Kingdom,” he said. “We have huge livestock potential. We have already been exporting livestock and meat, but our new thrust is in further strengthening our presence in the Kingdom’s food sector,” Kebede added.

The consul general said May 28, 1991 marked the end of 17 years of war, thus heralding peace and stability that resulted in the country’s march toward economic, social and political progress.

“Ethiopia is changing for the better, and the country is open for business and foreign investment,” he said and urged Saudis to take advantage of the “congenial” investment atmosphere.
Original source: Arab News


  1. . Talib Murad Ali(Dr)
    03 Jun 2010

    Egypt is annoyed over the recent Nile Basin Treaty between the seven countries of the Nile basin which Egypt and Sudan disagree with. Under the old Nile Basin Treaty Sudan received 18 billion cubic metres annually while Egypt took 55 billion cubic metres and both countries are concerned that their water supplies will diminish. The new treaty that two of the seven countries have yet to sign, will give Egypt a drastically reduced share of the Nile waters. The narrow strip of green land that borders the Nile from Sudan to the shores of the Mediterranean constitutes just 4% of Egypt’s land but is the only habitable land in the country and the population are entirely dependent on the Nile waters. Now Egypt’s Arab brothers in the Gulf States are heavily investing in the countries of the lower Nile Basin especially Ethiopia while China has also become heavily involved in ladgrabbing in the region. The water for these agricultural developments will naturally come from the Nile and this has given rise to the seven countries endeavouring to increase their share of the Nile waters. I have not heard, seen or read any reference to the effect of these developments anywhere in Egypt or indeed the media of the Arab world, yet these countries investing in agricultural developments in the Nile basin countries have caused those countries to recognise the value of the water that flows through their countries. This situation echoes that in Iraq where the Gulf States invested heavily in Turkey and put increased demand on the waters of the Tigres and Euphrates.. If this continues in Turkey then Iraq will see a drastic reduction in the 14 billion cubic metres of water that it receives. In the last few days it has been revealed that a Kuwaiti company will take water from the river Tigris to irrigate thousands of hectares of land in Syria in order to produce organic food and flour for the European market. It seems that water and land are now of more importance than the Arab brotherhood.

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