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  • BBC News

Ethiopia opens airline and telecoms to private, international investors

Ethiopia is opening key economic sectors, including the state-owned Ethiopian Airlines and state-run telecoms, to local and international private investors.

The privatization drive comes at a time when Ethiopian Airlines, Africa's largest carrier, is making big plans to expand into other markets in Africa and to include more international destinations.

Ethiopia's ruling party, which has been in power since 1991, said the economic reforms were an attempt to sustain the country's rapid growth.

The Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front, ( EPRDF), in a statement Tuesday, said government will wholly or partially transfer its shares in state-owned railways, hotels, parks and state-run manufacturing companies to the private investors.

"The greater shares of Ethio Telecom, Ethiopian Airlines, Electric Power Stations and Maritime and Logistics shall be owned by the government, whereas the rest of the shares shall be privatized by local and foreign investors or diaspora," the statement said.

Ethiopia, Africa's second most populated country, which has been pursuing a number of large-scale infrastructure projects, is forecast to be the fastest growing economy in Sub-Saharan Africa this year, according to the IMF.

In the last decade, the east African nation has averaged around 10% economic growth, according to the IMF. It's economy is predicted to grow by 8.5% this year.

The country has seen big changes since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in April. This week members of parliament lifted a state of emergency which was first imposed in October 2016. The move followed months of protests from ethnic groups.

Ahmed, 41, currently the continent's youngest leader, has freed many jailed journalists, bloggers and political prisoners, according to Human Rights Watch.

Since he took over as leader, Ahmed has made several trips abroad initiating the release of Ethiopians detained in places like Djibouti, Sudan and Kenya.

In May, Ahmed also met with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman which resulted in the Saudi government freeing 1,000 Ethiopian nationals, including billionaire Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi, local media reported.

He has also ended a web blackout that had lasted three months prior to him taking office. And for the first time, the country's publicly owned Ethiopia telecoms company will partner with a private company to provide internet services to Ethiopians.


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