Protests and the significant disruption they caused in Addis Ababa didn’t keep delegates away from the Ethiopian leg of the ‘Investing in Africa Conference’ which took place on Thursday and Friday of last week at the Radisson Blu in the city centre.
This was the final event of the East Africa Road Show and, like the others in Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda, it brought together members of the investment community interested in Ethiopia together Government Departments, local experts as well as a number local businesses and entrepreneurs requiring investment.
The first day was an interesting mix of presentations, commencing with the Key Note Speaker, Mr Antenneh Senbeta of the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC) who, together with Rajneesh Punj, CEO of 54 Capital and Sean Keough, MD of Ethiopian Investments, presented why Ethiopia is the right place to invest. It covered areas for consideration and how to work with both Government Departments and local Professional Services to navigate the local operating environment to get results.
The remaining part of the day was focused on the pipeline of investment opportunities together with specific case studies about investing within the natural resources sector. Richard Putley, Co-Managing Director of Executives in Africa, presented on ‘Why Your Leaders Are Your Ultimate Investment Risk’. He robustly defended and justified this bold statement, explaining what could go wrong and how to ensure that the right Business Leader is identified, assessed, appointed and retained for a portfolio business in order to protect and maximise ROI.
The second day added to the first with further presentations of insights into the Region together with a session of ‘Dragon Den’ style pitches by business owners and entrepreneurs to the delegates. “I was impressed with the energy and enthusiasm that the pitches were delivered and the significant impact the businesses could have with a relatively small investment (<$3,000,000) “ commented Richard, “And whilst this may be the type of investment that is right for all of the parties in attendance at the event, it does indicate the future potential for opportunities for African-focused PE Firms who are looking for bigger investments.”
Mr Senbeta, of the EIC, confirmed that current changes being experienced within the country were initiated a few years ago before the Dr Abi Ahmed was appointed the Head of Government. The previous Administration having put into place the policies that already established Ethiopia as the largest recipient of International Investment since 2014.
Even with the recent devaluation in the currency and the nervousness this caused in the Investment Community, he was keen to stress that this increase in openness to International Investment and relaxing in how to do business is not a short term ‘boom’ and represents a sustainable change in the country for the foreseeable future.
In response to the question, “If you found a Genie in a bottle and were granted one wish for releasing him, what would you want to change immediately?” the Panel were split over their answers. Improving logistics, the ease of obtaining forex, reliable communications/Internet access, or education were all cited as different views on the areas which need addressing, but all were in agreement on the importance of PPP and how this initial investment in infrastructure will underpin the continuing success story that is currently being experienced in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia has always been a location of specific interest for Executives in Africa and this is the second time in 5 months that Richard Putley has been back to the city, with another Director and EiA’s Head of Research visiting earlier in September. “There is a genuine feeling of excitement with everyone you speak to about the potential and opportunities in Ethiopia,” says Richard, “And with the change in attitude of the Government to foreign private investment, all the previous barriers appear to be being taken down.”
“Executives in Africa is committed to Ethiopia and our Team have completed over 10 specific Search mandates in the Country in the last two and a half years,” he continues. “We also are delighted to announce that, through a partnership with EQOS BPO, we have employed four talented and young Ethiopians who are working with Executives in Africa as Research Analysts and Quality Assurance”.
Confident about the potential in the region, Richard concluded, “I believe that Ethiopia will become one of the most important on the Continent in terms of potential for Executives in Africa. We hope that our demonstrable commitment to the country will enable us to be selected as the recruitment partner of choice for both international and local organisations to assist them with identifying the best business leaders they need today who are also committed to developing the leaders of tomorrow”.
To hear more about Richard’s views on ‘Why Your Leaders Are Your Ultimate Investment Risk’, please contact Richard Putley, Managing Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 7957 339235.