Ethiopia’s diaspora serves as a ‘valuable asset’ for development
Ethiopia’s diaspora is a valuable development asset as nationals living abroad can offer investment capital and business, managerial and technical skills to help develop the private sector, said the Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC) Arancha González.
Speaking at a panel discussion called the ‘Role of Diaspora in Development’ in Geneva on 25 June 2014, the Executive Director stated that Ethiopia’s diasporic community has invested more than US$ 1 billion in the country’s economy, set up over 2,000 companies and created over 100,000 jobs.
Ms. González pointed out that remittances to Ethiopia, which is another important source of development finance, contribute to around 2% of the economy. Using electronic solutions is one way to make sending remittances more affordable for those living abroad. She said that Ethiopia’s diaspora can be a source of demand for exports from the homeland. The Executive Director said this is where ITC can play a role in trade facilitation and promotion, as ITC is supporting Ethiopia in its efforts to become a member of the World Trade Organization.
Ms. González added that ITC is also working with the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and sectoral associations in the country to mobilize resources to build the capacity of small and medium-sized enterprises. She said ITC is supportive of the Ethiopian government’s aim to develop its economy by enhancing various sectors.
ITC is promoting exports from five East African countries – Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania – to India through its project called ‘Supporting India’s Trade Preferences for Africa’ (SITA). Ms. González said Ethiopia can benefit from this initiative through investments and skills transfer.
ITC is also partnering with the Centre for Accelerated Women’s Economic Empowerment (CAWEE) in Ethiopia to support women in the textile and garment sectors. Ms. González noted that Ethiopia’s high-quality leather industry can be internationalized through ITC’s Ethical Fashion Initiative, by connecting these businesses with artisans in Africa and Haiti.