By Staff Reporter
July 24, 2019 (Ezega.com) -- The deteriorating security situation in Hawassa city, the seat of South Nations, Nationalities and Peoples State of Ethiopia has badly affected businesses of foreign companies in one of the largest industrial parks in the country, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has said.
While evaluating performance of a national committee in charge of improving doing business in Ethiopia on Tuesday, PM Abiy Ahmed said foreign companies are insisting on leaving the industrial park as employees have been staying away from work due to political problems in the state where protesters are demanding for statehood of Sidama zone.
Equipped with modern facilities and one window services for investors, such as customs and immigration services, Hawassa Industrial Park (HIP) was one of the best-performing state-owned industrial parks. It has created jobs for 25,000 individuals.
"The government spent billions, borrowed money for the construction of the park. We spent not only for the park but also for infrastructural facilities, including for the construction of highway leading to the park and power supply. Those foreign companies operating in the park are now threatening to leave as they incur losses every day due to absence of employees, who on the other hand are demanding payment for the work not done," Abiy said
Currently, there are 22 international companies operating in the park, producing apparel and textiles for export markets. After the park went operational in June 2017, Ethiopia inaugurated similar industrial parks in different parts of the country, including Bole Lemi in Addis Ababa, Mekele, Adama and Dire Dawa, among others.
If the situation continues this way, it may lead to not only the closure of the industrial park, but also all the money we spent on infrastructure facilities and power supply lines will be wasted.
"The people in the region complain over the high unemployment situation in the state due to little or no expansion of industries. But they are trapped in evolving demonstrations which should have been carried out during weekends like neighboring country Kenya," he said
In May this year, the government of Ethiopia announced that it secured $103 million export earnings from products manufactured in the country's industrial parks over the first nine months of its fiscal year that started July 8, 2018.
This was 40 percent increase compared to the same period last year, according to Ethiopian Investment Commissioner Abebe Abebayehu. He noted that the country met 70 percent of its export earning target for the nine months period reported.
Reports have revealed that, in addition to ethnic Sidama, ethnic Hadiya, Kambata, Wolaita and many others have planned to hold demonstrations demanding for statehoods. About 20 people including police officers were reportedly killed during clashes that happened during recent protests held in the city of Hawassa.