Ethiopian Lema Megersa press release of the ministry of Industry keenly outlined, during the business forum, that his government has been tirelessly working to create a favorable environment to attract more investment in the country. These include, but not limited to, creating a competitive market economy (although many loathe the state’s persistent role in the private sector), to infrastructure and human resources development, to ensuring democratic governance and establishing specialized institutions and industrial zones. For Mulu Solomon though this is not enough. Creating investor friendly environment also takes having the right system in place with the right people to implement them as well as checks and balances of implementations and timely evaluations of policies, laws and directives. A nation should not depend on individual discretions, she said, as a reminder of lack of “institutional depth.”
Excruciating bureaucratic bottleneck manifested in the forms of land administration, lack of foreign currency, increasingly worrisome corruption and a civil service characterized by incompetence is threatening both new-comers and existing investors. Currently, securing land takes about four months to complete; lack of access to finance and credit has always been a painful hallmark of doing business in Ethiopia and is getting worse with every passing day as the government in Ethiopia continued fencing the financial sector in the name of protecting the local sector; and telecommunication, the pillar of doing business everywhere around the world, remains not only chillingly inept but untouchable.
So far the government has done pretty well in tackling some of the massive problems surrounding doing business in Ethiopia; in the words of Tadesse Haile “promising results have been registered so far, but a lot of work needs to be done, too.” If the government cares to live up to its promise of making Ethiopia become a middle income country by 2025, its efforts of improving infrastructure and specialized industrial zones must go hand-in-hand with having in place a clear and clean list of things to do and things not to do. Mulu Solomon has put it accurately when she said, “I don’t have to tell the size of my shoe to renew my business license.”