Meseret Alemu, a college graduate in north-central Ethiopia’s Kombolcha town, is busy processing women’s clothing in a textile factory located inside the Kombolcha Industrial Park (KIP).
Alemu, 22, is one of the thousands of young Ethiopians working in factories inside the Chinese-built KIP, located about 380km northeast of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
The KIP now hosts six international companies from China, South Korea and Italy specializing in manufacturing export-oriented textile and garment products, the park’s general manager, Ahmed Seid, told Xinhua in a recent interview.
The six firms have created more than 2,000 job opportunities, and the park expects to hire up 20,000 people when planned expansion projects are completed, Seid said.
The KIP, built by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) and inaugurated in July 2017, is part of the Ethiopian government’s greater economic ambition of transforming the country into the manufacturing powerhouse of Africa.
As Ethiopia aspires to build and commission more than 30 industrial parks by 2025 across the country to realize its ambition of becoming a light manufacturing hub, Chinese engagement has injected a crucial impetus in helping the east African country to boost economic growth and enhance international competitiveness.
Hawassa Industrial Park, which the Ethiopian government considers as its flagship industrial park, was also built by the CCECC. It was completed in 2016.
Fitsum Ketema, general manager of Hawassa Industrial Park, said all the park’s 52 factory sheds have been transferred to 21 international companies, some of which have started operation there.
In addition to creating jobs and attracting foreign direct investment and technology transfer, Ketema said, the park has also indirectly benefited Hawassa city and its surroundings.
The industrial park, located some 275km south of Addis Ababa, has so far created 27,000 direct job opportunities for local youth, a number bound to surge when operation at all the 52 factory sheds goes into full swing.
Hawassa Industrial Park has adopted some state-of-the-art technologies, including one involving zero-liquid discharge technology, which treats 11 million liters of wastewater a day and recovers water for recycled use, Ketema said.
In addition to industrial parks in Kombolcha and Hawassa, the Chinese construction giant CCECC has also built industrial parks in Bahir Dar, Adama, and Dire Dawa.
China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), another Chinese construction firm, built Mekelle Industrial Park in northern Ethiopia. Mekelle was also designed to attract textile and apparel producing companies.
Kilinto pharmaceutical industrial park, a World Bank-funded project on the outskirts of the capital, is being built by China Tiesiju Civil Engineering Group.
Last December, the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC) said the country earned more than 47 million U.S. dollars in export value from industrial parks during the first quarter of the Ethiopian fiscal year that started on July 8, 2019.
Total export by Ethiopia in the 2018-2019 fiscal year, which ended on July 7, 2019, was about 142 million dollars.
Deputy EIC Commissioner Hana Arayaselassie said the commissioning of the Chinese-built Ethiopia-Djibouti electrified rail line, in January 2018, has contributed to boosting landlocked Ethiopia’s export ambitions, by enhancing the speed and efficiency of cargo transport from industrial parks in mainland Ethiopia to ports in Djibouti.
Nine of the industrial parks are located near the 756km Ethiopia-Djibouti rail line.