KOLKATA: With easy availability of land and cheap labour, Ethiopia is emerging as one of the most attractive destinations for Indian corporates with the Tatas leading a group of Indian corporates for setting up projects in the African country. Karaturi Global of Bangalore and the Kolkata-based Emami group are some of the other companies which have already begun operations there.
Gennet Zewide, Ethiopian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, said that while the Tatas have opened an office, Kanan Devan Hill Plantations Pvt Ltd (KDHP), an erstwhile group company, Shapoorji Pallonji, construction company, as well as companies engaged in mining, textiles and the leather sector have either taken up land or taken licence to start activities there. “In three years, Indian investment in Ethiopia has increased from $300 million to $4.3 billion and 400 licences have been issued”. She said that Emami director Aditya Agarwal would be Ethiopia’s Consul in the city. Ethiopia is now planning to open more representative offices in India, a “country they were looking towards to,” she said.
Mehreteab Mulugeta, Minister Counselor, Economic and Business of the Ethiopian Embassy, said that while the Tatas were planning to start a leather unit, KDHP had taken 2,000 hectares for tea cultivation.
Mr. Mulugeta, who also met West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, said that he had shown interest in co-operating in leather and jute. “Security of investment, protection of agreements, availability of land and cheap labour and the recent liberalisation measures were attracting investment. Moreover, Ethiopia is only a four-hour flying distance from Mumbai,” Ms. Zewide said.
The Ethiopian diplomats were here on the occasion of announcing a Rs. 400-crore investment by the Emami group for taking up cultivation of jatropha and other edible and non-edible oilseeds on one-lakh acres which has just been allotted to its wholly-owned subsidiary, Emami Biotech.
Mr. Agarwal said that while Rs. 120 crore would be spent in the first phase involving cultivation of 30,000 acres, the total project cost would be Rs. 400 crore, of which Rs. 280 crore would be met through debt.“We have begun talks with Exim Bank, Bank of Baroda and State Bank of India and the arrangement may be individually or as a consortium”.
He said the group also planned to start cultivation of food crops, edible oilseeds and cereals. These projects would be taken up in the State of Orama. Mr. Agarwal said the project was being taken up following a feasibility study made by Mott McDonald.
He said that the bio-fuel would be exported back to India, while the edible oil produced would be for domestic consumption.