Tsehaye Debalkew Washington DC, October 6, 2011- The Second Ethiopia-US Investment Forum 2011 kicked off at a splendid town hall within the prestigious Omni Shoreham hotel yesterday here in Washington DC. full to the brim by an audience of over 400 participants who streamed from Ethiopia representing both the public and private sectors and were buttressed by their counter parts drawn from the vast reservoir of the American private and public sectors and were joined by members of the Ethiopian Diaspora in the US.
The highly anticipated forum was graced by the presence of Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, US Senators and Congressmen and the US media, Ato Mekonnen Manyazewal, Minister of Industry, Senior government officials, other dignitaries from the public and private sector in Ethiopia and the US, the US State Department, the US Ambassador to Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington DC., investors, entrepreneurs, and other invited guests.
In a fired up and key-note address at the august Forum, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, underlined the significance of the launching of such a Forum, in the heat of the ongoing Five Year Growth and Transformation Plan/GTP/, which has just embarked upon its second year.
He underscored the added enabling environment contributing to such an occasion is that the forum has picked up in the wake of the unhampered and ever continuing and progressing impetus of the building of the Grand Renaissance Dam, which highlights an ample and opportune moment to join the bandwagon and speed up further, the momentum and forward march of the Ethiopian development resolve by engaging in investment, trade and tourism of the nation for the benefit of all concerned.
Deputy Premier and Foreign Affairs Minister stated that Ethiopia has put in place an appropriate and fitting domestic and foreign policies, and strategic instruments that focus primarily and squarely on tackling economic backwardness, grinding poverty, lack of good governance and the eventuation of a sustainable and durable peace and the sprouting and maturing and burgeoning democracy.
Economic diplomacy is the centerpiece of the foreign policy of the nation, with an emphasis on creating an enabling and conducive socio-economic and political climate that has proven as a dependable and predictable instrument opening up the nation's floodgates of development contour to wide ranging investors, entrepreneurs and businesses from far-flung countries of the globe, he reiterated.
In reference to the sizable achievements congruent with the energetic, fair and just economic policy that the Ethiopian government is currently pursuing, the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, declared that an impressive 11 per cent annual growth registered during the preceding seven years is a commendable and an unprecedented feat in the history of Ethiopia.
He further stated that this gigantic result has positioned our nation to enjoy the status of not only as an icon of history as an ancient African nation but also as a promising and dynamic modern nation striving to enlist itself and accede the ranks of middle income nations of the globe in the not too distant future.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister assured investors and stakeholders all the support needed all the way through their journey to be a development partner to Ethiopia where all opportunities for entrepreneurship are open to exploration. He extended his invitation for Investors to seize the hour by availing themselves and stressed that timing is of the essence and the right time is now and the right place is Ethiopia and pledged the government's all-round support.
US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Donald Yamamoto, on his part highlighted the excellent relationship that exists between the US and Ethiopia, and outlined his country's resolve for upping American investment and trade with Ethiopia.
The US government would like to see business partnership with Ethiopia thrive by boosting support to American businesses interested in making the economic link between the private sectors of the two nations.
He said opportunities are absolutely huge and urged American businesses to take advantage of the existing propitious investment environment in Ethiopia. He commended Ethiopia on its economic success and assured participants that the US is keen to work closely in a friendly fashion to intensify investment and trade which he said is high time for an unhesitant portrayal of American stance for support to Ethiopia' investment call and initiative.
Ato Zemedeneh Negatu, CEO of Ernest and Young, a private Consultative Agency in Ethiopia reverberated the audience by his apt and deep going and researched presentation of Ethiopia's impressive march on the path of an indisputable development avenue and its indomitable progress
as the second populous country in Africa, and one of the top-notch economic Tigers of the globe.
He alluded to the objective reality that many Asian countries notably China and India have rightly grasped the energy and momentum Ethiopia is injecting towards transformation by directly joining the bandwagon and called upon the US public and private sector to be more involved with the ongoing rapid development journey of Ethiopia. At last Ato Mekonnen Manyazewal, Ethiopian Minister of Industry presented a concluding remark on the occasion.
Ambassador Taye Askeselasie, Director General, of the American Affairs Department at the Head Quarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia emceed the event while Ambassador Girma Birru, Special Envoy and Ambassador Extra-Ordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the United States of America, took the podium and invited the Deputy Prime Minister to deliver the key-note address of the day.
The highly successful and event-laden forum was organized by WAFA, A private Marketing and Production Enterprise, the Embassy of Ethiopia in Washington DC., the Corporate Council on Africa and was supported by the USAID.
Earlier in the morning, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Hailemariam Desalegn met and held talks and consultations with members of Africa Business Initiative, US Chamber of Commerce.
The Deputy Prime Minister gave an audience to the questions raised by the attendees pertaining to their business engagement in Ethiopia and addressed their concerns. The Africa Business Initiative /ABI/ engages the US business community on legislative policies that foster direct investment in Africa, provides tailored guidance to American companies about doing business in African nations and introduces US companies to the continent's vast and untapped economic opportunities.