The US Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade, Gilbert Kaplan, arrived in Addis Ababa last week leading delegates from the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA) and senior corporate executives as part of a strategy to explore business opportunities in Africa. Ethiopia was the first stop as part of a plan to explore partnerships and business opportunities in four African nations including Ethiopia: Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, and Ghana.
“The visit yielded new business deals for U.S. companies currently doing business in Ethiopia and laid the groundwork for new investment and trade opportunities for other firms in this critical market,” US embassy in Addis Ababa said in a statement. “Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade, Gil Kaplan and the delegation met with senior government officials and industry leaders to discuss solutions to challenges and develop strategies to improve U.S-Ethiopian commercial relations”.
The delegates had an audience with the biggest actors of the Ethiopian economy, and the Finance Minister, Abraham Tekese (PhD) and signed MOUs to help identify and support Ethiopia’s ambition on becoming a middle income nation by 2025.
This came as Ethiopia is experimenting with part privatization of some of its State-Owned Enterprises (SoEs) in aviation, telecommunication and power including Ethiopian Airlines.
According to the embassy, “A pair of procurement manual announced during the visit will help Ethiopia improve its public procurement process”. This includes new partnership with the United States Trade Development Agency to help the mega Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) to build a mechanism to help improve its procurement manual.
Some of the announced deals include with Honeywell International Inc worth $10 million to help with the security system of Bole Airport, BAK USA sealing a deal worth just over $2 million to provide 4000 tablets for the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy and TROY Group Inc. negotiating to provide 130 secure UV printers for the Vital Events Registration Agency of Ethiopia, worth $750,000.
Secretary Kaplan also took part in the signing of Power Africa MoU, along with U.S. Ambassador Michael Raynor and Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, Seleshi Bekele (PhD).
At a press briefing, the Ambassador was asked the difficulties of many African leaders to continue to have to take part as part of delegations sent to the United States. He pointed out the fact that Ethiopian Airlines is operating full daily flights as indication that that there is no visa restrictions from the perspective of the embassy.