Ethiopia has an estimated one million hectares of natural bamboo forest, the largest in the African continent. The highland and lowland parts of the country is covered with over 15 different types of bamboo plants . Though there is a huge bamboo potential in western parts, the resource remains widely unexploited.
Ethiopian Environment and Forest Research Institutes Wood Technology Research Center Senior Researcher, Seyoum Kelemwork earlier stated that the different bamboo species found in Ethiopia have been proven to be stronger and of better quality compared to the foreign species.
Despite the diverse resource base and advanced bamboo utilization at a global scale, its great potential to enhance development remains unrealized in Ethiopia. Bamboo in Ethiopia is not well utilized beyond construction of a houses, boats, fencing, house furniture and equipment. Its’ huge economic contribution has for a long time remained underestimated and unable to play its role in generating foreign currency accordingly.
But there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel now as the country is expected to earn tangible proceeds from the endowed sector following a just concluded USD 2 Bn worth deal with two Chinese companies.
Two Chinese: Tyson Group and Green Diamond will invest a total of USD 2 Bn to process Ethiopia’s bamboo and produce paper products for both local and export market.
The two will be engaged in processing of bamboo in Benishangul Gumz Region of Ethiopia according to Abebe Abebayehu, Investment Commissioner of Ethiopia who, concluded the deal in China recently.
Once fully implemented, the investment of Tyson Group and Green Diamond is expected to create many job opportunities for residents of Benishangul Gumz.
Speaking to ETV, Ethiopia’s state broadcaster, Mr. Abebe noted that the move will enable Ethiopia to cut hard currency spending to import paper products. In addition to import substitution, the company’s will also export its products and generate hard currency for Ethiopia.
Mr. Abebe, further revealed that the planned annual production capacity of the company will be one million tons of paper products.
Reports indicate that Ethiopia coughs up hundreds of millions of dollars importing many kinds of bamboo products including furniture and toothpicks.
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