ADDIS ABABA- The government’s move to engage local investors in the mining sector will boost Ethiopia’s economy and improve the livelihoods of citizens. Economists said, calling for stiff measures to halt frauds in the production permits.
Economists told The Ethiopian Press (EPA) that the government’s engagement to enhance the participation of the private sector in the mining sector will not only stimulate the industry, but also create conducive environment for rapid economic growth and improve livelihoods.
Trade and investment adviser Amanyhun Reda noted that despite its vast natural resources, Ethiopia has not been able to adequately benefit from the sector. Although a few companies have made a dent in their foreign exchange earnings, they have done little to improve the country’s economy and change the livelihood of citizens.
As a result, the government’s decision to deploy large-scale domestic investment through the development of new policy directions and flexible frameworks provides an opportunity for citizen-centered growth and economic transformation, Amanyhun elaborated.
As to him, increasing the involvement of local investors will provide a considerable amount of jobs and it will save the country’s foreign exchange by substituting imported industrial inputs. In particular, the involvement of minerals such as coal will not only expand Ethiopia’s energy sources, but also meet the demand of coal-fired industries.
“With regard to Ethiopia’s limited technological capacity, the deployment of local investors in the mining sector is the order of the day to enhance economic transformation. That sector however, should not be left entirely to the local investors, and attracting foreign companies with the desired technological capacity and expertise is something worth equal consideration.
We must not enter the sector without proper knowledge; we must use all the growth opportunities we have. We can import both the expert and the technology; “Knowledge and experience will be developed over time, not overnight, and higher education institutions have a big role to fill the skill gaps in the sector.”
Amanyhun further stated that, great care should be made to ensure that the licensing process of mining does not lead investors to corruption. The government has a legal framework to manage the sector properly and it needs to be better monitored and supported by looking at the policy and institutional frameworks.
“Just as a baby can’t walk the day after a baby is born, we need to gradually increase our capacity in the mining sector.”
For another economist Yared Hailemeskel, the previous government’s misguided approach inhibits the private sector’s contribution to exploit Ethiopia’s enormous potential in the mining sector.
Citizens were forced to live in poverty for centuries due to their inability to develop and use natural resources. Government’s active participation in this regard would enhance citizens’ work discipline and would lay the foundation for Ethiopia’s overall development, he remarked.