The Chinese footwear Huajian Group has planned to expand its investment in Ethiopia and envision to make the country a major manufacturing hub in the eastern Africa, Founder and Chairman of Huajian Group, HuaRong Zhang said.
In an exclusive interview with ENA, HuaRong Zhang said Ethiopia is a promising investment destination in the future as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has paid much attention to the industrial development.
He added that Huajian started its investment in Ethiopia in 2011 and created jobs for 12,000 persons, playing its role in introducing industrial civilization in the country.
“Ethiopia has very good human resources, I know that Ethiopia has about million young populations who are looking for jobs and Ethiopia will achieve very good development of manufacturing industry.”
“I hope that the government can be more open and more supportive of the investors. I also hope that Ethiopia can resume the AGOA so that we can start export to the US. This is important for Ethiopia and for our investors,” he said.
Huajian had made a total investment of 150 million US dollar in Ethiopia before the COVID-19 pandemic, generating revenues of 200 million US dollar, the chairman said.
The investment group is constructing Huajian International Light Industry City in the vicinity of Addis Ababa, he said, adding the project is expected to produce footwear and apparel in large volumes, in the coming five years, with job creation ranging from 30,000 to 50,000 and foreign exchange earnings of 1.5 billion USD.
HuaRong noted that after the pandemic, his company resumed operation in March 2023 with the support of the government and so far it is producing shoes, including sport shoes for local consumption.
Currently, we receive production order from military or federal police and we have 2000 employees working in the workshop, he said.
“To be honest, before the COVID and (termination of) AGOA, Huajian made hundred percent export sales, but now due to the cancellation of AGOA, we lose our orders, so we want to focus on the domestic market, provide jobs for our staff and training to the management of our staff and we will wait for AGOA to resume and then we restart our export sales,” he added.
Engaging in domestic sales is our choice for now; he said, adding that in the future; we would like to have local entrepreneurs and small businesses to do export sales gradually. And this can help us to export Ethiopian manufacturing products in the global market.
He expressed his hope that together with the government, we can attain major development achievement and make Ethiopia a major manufacturing destination in Africa.
“So far we produce our products for military. We used 100 percent Ethiopian leather. We hope that we can use the raw materials in Ethiopia because we know that in Ethiopia there are plenty of tanneries and leather factories, we want to have cooperation with them. In the future, we hope that we can do export to other African countries; we do have confidence in our military shoes production,”he said.
According to HuaRong, his company’s plan is to continue producing shoes in Ethiopia; however, the company also plans to focus on new investment areas, for example, in electric vehicle (EV) to make major investment in the sector.
We are planning to launch small and local firms with 100 entrepreneurs, he said, adding we will provide to them machines, with rent, provide management training to enable them learn domestic sales and we can help them grow with the help of government.
The second plan is another 100 local clothes factories; we will provide warehouses and machineries and rent to those entrepreneurs to create one of the biggest textile manufacturing company in Ethiopia, he pointed out.
We have confidence in the future that Ethiopia will grow to become a major manufacturing hub in the eastern Africa.
Source: Ethiopian News Agency