Ethiopia is on a roll investing in its manufacturing sector, and now that the Trans-Pacific Partnership won’t be moving forward as planned, the country could be even better positioned to pick up on demand for low-cost manufacturing.
The Ethiopian Industrial Parks Development Corporation (IPDC) has given the go ahead to three Chinese construction firms to build three industrial parks in the country. Two of those industrial parks will be dedicated solely to textile and garment production.
The first of the textile parks, Bole Lemi II Industrial Park, will be in the southern part of Addis Ababa. Construction on the 3.5 billion birr ($155 million) project is expected to take one year. Jimma Industrial Park, the second textile project of the two, will go up in Jimma, the largest city in southwestern Ethiopia. The 1.5 billion birr ($66.3 million) project will be completed in nine months.
The third industrial park will be dedicated to pharmaceuticals, but IPDC CEO Sisay Gemechu said the Ethiopian government has made the textile and garment sector its No. 1 priority.
“It is a light industry which is labor intensive. And it uses locally produced raw materials,” Sisay said.
Ethiopia faced some unrest in October as a result of anti-government protests that wouldn’t let up, and though things quieted and have since been very stable, the issue was a small blemish on the country’s otherwise fairly clean social unrest record. The unrest wasn’t, however, related to worker discontent as has been the case in many other sourcing countries.
Ethiopia is dedicated to advancing its textile sector and building facilities that meet compliance standards and providing workplace environments that are ethical and safe. A report on eliminating unethical labor released by the Department of Labor last year said Ethiopia has made moderate progress toward curbing child labor.