Ethiopia’s mines and petroleum minister, Samuel Urkato said the country which seeks to encourage more foreign investors, will finalize reforms for its underdeveloped mining and oil sectors within the next two months.
Ethiopia has already cut taxes for mining companies in recent years but the government wants to attract more foreign investment and ease a dollar shortage in the country. Urkato said promoting the mining sector had become a priority and indicated that further tax incentives were on the cards.
Speaking on the sidelines of the African Mining Indaba in Cape Town, South Africa, Urkato said “we are reforming all the laws, the national mining policy and the strategy that goes with that policy. These reforms include all fiscal regimes too in order to compete for global mining investments”.
Newmont Mining is among a number of gold companies now prospecting in Ethiopia and Norwegian fertilizer maker Yara International plans to build a potash mine and a fertilizer factory in the country.
Industry consultants in Ethiopia revealed that other companies have been put off by poor infrastructure, a shortage of skilled professionals in the sector, as well as a lack of transparency in licensing.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who came into office a year ago, has announced shake-ups across industries, including plans to open up the once closely guarded telecommunications, logistics and power monopolies.
Massive government investment in infrastructure has helped make Ethiopia one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, but exports of garments and other products have struggled to take off, meaning the economy is not generating enough dollars to pay for imports.
Encouraging the mining sector could help. Though still small, it brought in $3.5 billion in foreign direct investment in the past five years, helped by new incentives that included updating the country’s geological data, extending duty-free access to companies engaged in exploration and offering to build infrastructure to accommodate mining sites.