Ministry Says Working to Create Favorable Environment for Innovation, Technology Investment

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Addis Ababa January 18/2022/The Government of Ethiopia is creating favorable business environment for investors interested in the innovation and technology sector, according to Ministry of Innovation and Technology.

Innovation and Technology State Minister Huria Ali told ENA that the government has been   improving the law framework to attract robust private sector investments on innovation and technology and is committed to resolve challenges in the practical process on the ground.  

“We are especially resolving bottlenecks such as the law frameworks. Take for example, the approved Electronic Transaction Proclamation and the draft Startup Business Proclamation under scrutiny of Ministry of Justice. We are also working on data protection. That means we are  on the way of resolving the main bottlenecks to create a conducive environment,” she said, adding that private data protection is urgent and of concern for investors in Ethiopia.

The House of People’s Representatives approved in May 2021 the Electronic Transaction law, giving legal recognition to e-commerce. Upon approval, the Startup Business Proclamation would also encourage innovation and technology, job creation, and remove entrepreneurship barriers by easing procedures for establishing new, running, expanding and closing businesses.

In its 10-year development plan unveiled in mid-2019, the government has identified innovation and technology as one of the key development pillars, the state minister noted.

Huria stated that Ethiopia, like any developing country, faces challenges on the ground that are surmountable with effective coordination of government offices and investors as the country has latecomer advantage from the best experiences of other countries to improve them in a short time span.

“In particular,” the state minister said, “the Ethiopian Diaspora ought to contribute their share to the emerging innovation and technology investment option. They have to invest their knowledge and resources in their country. On our part, we will solve obstacles in coordination with them because it is when they invest that we can see the challenges they face and resolve them. It’s only when they start working that we can find out challenges.”

According to Huria, the government is very much committed to cooperating and resolving  challenges investors face in the sector.  

Orbit Health CEO Pazion Chernet, an Ethiopian Diaspora investor, told ENA that the business condition in the innovation and technology sector is improving fast.

The Startup Proclamation, which was extensively discussed, would hopefully make the business environment very conducive for companies to come in and start business and smoothen the journey for startups operating in the country, he said.

“Once this becomes the law of the land, it would create the most conducive environment for any business to come and invest in the country, and start a company.”   

The investor stated that he has witnessed a swift change during his tenure in the private sector in the past six years.“Things have been changing dramatically since when we started (this business) six years ago. I anticipate that things will be extremely viable for people to come and invest and be profitable and make an impact in the coming few years.”

Millions of educated ready youth from universities are available and investors can help them adjust to their investments easily, the CEO said, adding that the telecom liberalization is a bridging asset for the emerging innovation and technology investment.

Pazion stressed, “Telecom is the new digital age bridge. Whatever we are imagining may not be practical without telecom or liberalization of telecom, advancement of telecom, and modernization of telecom.”

Ethiopian Diaspora and investor of the HealthyFire Plc., Tsegaye Nega has established a company that addresses environmental problems in the country by developing the first spatially explicit and policy-driven simulation model for household cooking such as gasifier stoves.

The professor of Conservation Biology/Landscape Ecology in the Environmental Studies program at Carleton College, Minnesota (USA), stated that he faced ups and downs when he tried to realize the project about nine years ago.

Professor Tsegaye stressed the need to provide information pathway for investors and effective coordination among relevant government offices as well as quick pronouncement of the laws on the ground.  

The HealthyFire company produces cooking stove that the investor describes as not ordinary cooking stove. “It is not just simply imported from somewhere else. We designed it from the ground up here,” Professor Tsegaye said, adding that he has developed recipes to convert waste biomass into fuel pellets and converting the bio char produced from burning the pellets to fertilizer.

The business environment has to be improved, he insisted, adding that the Healthy Fire Plc. would not have materialized without the support of the former Innovation and Technology minister Getahun Mekuria.

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