Bishoftu Automotive Industry: Leading Ethiopia in to the Future.
(Aigaforum) Isayas A. Dec 4th, 2015
The Ethiopian government is doing everything to transform the country’s economy from its current dependency on rain fed agriculture. Although the country’s economy is highly dependent on agriculture it is not farfetched to imagine an Ethiopian economy that is based on manufacturing and modern heavy industries like mining. While the mining Industry is still for most part in the preliminary stage of development the manufacturing sector is off to a good start. One among the few home grown manufacturing sectors is the huge Bishoftu Automotive Industry on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. I stopped by for a visit and to my surprise I found out the facility is manufacturing eight types of automotive and Defense Vehicles including Modern T-72 Tanks.
Col. Gebremedhin Z/Selassie, GM of Bishoftu Automotive Industry, METEC , is a very young looking well-mannered and educated General Manager of this huge complex. He oversees the manufacturing of all products in the vast compound that employs over 3 thousands workers. The colonel confidently told me over 39% of the work force are women. In the few years of the operation of the facility he has managed he has transformed the company. Short of being a garage that repairs military vehicles and tanks it has now emerged to a well-managed production factory. The former government of Ethiopia established this facility to serve as garage and manufacturing of light armaments. The EPRDF government, credit to PM Meles, changed the facility to what it is today.
The Colonel told me it was PM Meles himself who changed the fate of the facility after a single visit. Meles saw the desire and readiness of the workers and decided his government will convert the facility to a manufacturing facility of commercial buses, trucks, construction equipment's and Light Military Vehicles. In fact Meles wrote a 26-page white paper for the Industrialization of Ethiopia that includes the Bishoftu Automotive Industry. That blue print is still the base for the huge complex that is producing all kind of vehicles, from long haul trucks to modern luxury Tourist Buses.
The “yichala” spirit is clearly present at this facility. Despite the problems of not having experienced managers and engineers in the early stages of the facility, today, the facility is well known for producing well-trained work force and is well known in the Horn of Africa. Col Gebremedhin told me that they have customers from Sudan to Mozambique and are constantly visited by regional leaders.
Col. Gebremedhin, told me in few years’ time the facility would be producing all materials for their products within the country! Although they assemble and manufacture in house 60% of most of the eight models today, they still import chassis and engines from different countries. However with the soon to be inaugurated engine factory they will be able to assemble and manufacture some of the models as 100% made in Ethiopia!.
The most astonishing achievement this factory has is its ability to assemble modern T-72 tanks with modern outfit. The T-72 assembly line also includes a modern armored vehicle that is capable to dispose of a buried anti-tank explosive remotely. This huge assembly line will come live in few months’ time according to Col Gebrmedhin.
The facility is equipped with a complete all weather test for civilian vehicles and modern underground military test enclosures. Col Gebremdhin also told me they have a vast outdoor test facility away from the urban center in the west of the country.
earning hard currency to the country, the facility, in its short life, is
generating over 2.1 billion birr in revenue. Its customers include Sudan,
Somalia, Somaliland, Mozambique and soon Uganda and the other horn countries.
More Selected Pictures from within the Complex ...Click For large Size