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Cablegate: Ethiopian Government Hosts Diaspora Investment Forum

VZCZCXRO0772
RR RUEHIK
DE RUEHDS #0298/02 0440742
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 130742Z FEB 10 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7768
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEU/EU INTEREST COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUCNMUC/EU CANDIDATE STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEPADJ/CJTF HOA
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEWMFD/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 02 OF 02 ADDIS ABABA 000298

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/E JWIEGERT; AF/EPS - ABREITER AND GMALLORY;
EEB/IFD/OMA - JWINKLER AND EEB/CBA - DWINSTEAD; EEB/TPP/BTA
DEPARTMENT PASS TO USTR FOR PATRICK COLEMAN, BARBARA GRYNIEWWICZ
DEPT OF COMMERCE FOR ITA MARIA RIVERO
DEPT OF TREASURY FOR REBECCA KLEIN
USAID FOR AFR/EA - HELLYER, DALTON, AFR/SD - CURTIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EINV ETRD ECON EFIN BEXP AF ET
SUBJECT: ETHIOPIAN GOVERNMENT HOSTS DIASPORA INVESTMENT FORUM

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ADDIS ABAB 00000298 002.3 OF 002


to allow for substantive interaction on important topics and serious
incubation of specific business deals. Participants could have
submitted questions well before the conference so that the
government decision makers could respond with detailed clarification
to points raised. Attendees also expressed frustration to CommSpec
about the lack of results from previous diaspora forums and
expectations of the same from this year's forum. They believed the
investment climate had not improved in recent years in response to
questions and issues raised in past years. One attendee complained
that the event was just a government publicity stunt. During this
forum, the diaspora expressed to one another concerns regarding
frequent power interruptions, poor telecom services, difficulty in
opening letters of credit with banks, and congested traffic due to
poor road quality and road networks.

FOREIGN MINISTER HIGHLIGHTS DIASPORA ACHIEVEMENTS
--------------------------------------------- ----

5. (U) Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin closed the forum, praising the
diaspora for its contributions to Ethiopia. He said 19,000 diaspora
are engaged in various investment activities and have invested USD
1.35 billion in capital. Seyoum went on to say that these projects
created 80,000 jobs for Ethiopians and that the diaspora have shown
increasing commitment and partnership for the development and
well-being of Ethiopia. He specifically thanked the diaspora for
its contributions in technology transfer, training of local labor
force, and humanitarian assistance in the health sector. Seyoum
reminded the audience that the diaspora have been given the extra
privilege of engaging in various sectors reserved for only Ethiopian
nationals and called on them to challenge the bureaucracy they might
face in their day-to-day business dealings.

COMMENT
-------

6. (SBU) The organization of such fora should be applauded, however,
the organizers could have made the event a successful one by
engaging the diaspora well in advance to identify issues to be
addressed and to encourage a high turnout. It appears that funding
for this forum was not used wisely and the event lost some
credibility with its presentation selection. Notably, the Ethiopian
Investment Agency (EIA) did not present and it is the lead agency
responsible for attracting investment to Ethiopia. Moreover,
inserting a presentation on the elections by the NEBE seemed overtly
political and proved divisive as 30 to 40 people walked out during
this presentation in apparent protest. Such poorly planned events
with political overtures will only serve to push some diaspora
investors away from a country desperate for additional investment.
END COMMENT.

YATES

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