Roundup: E. African leaders inaugurate Chinese-built dev't projects in Ethiopia

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JIMMA, Ethiopia, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Saturday inaugurated the Chinese-built Jimma Industry Park in Ethiopia's western town of Jimma, some 350 km west of the capital Addis Ababa.

The three leaders also on Saturday witnessed a corner-stone laying ceremony for another Chinese-contracted major road infrastructure project as the Ethiopian government aspires to connect strategic towns in western Ethiopia, including the historic town of Jimma with Agaro and Dedesa towns.

Ethiopia's Ahmed, speaking after the industrial park launching and road project commencement events, said that the two development projects showcase the Ethiopian government's strong commitment to transform the Jimma town and its surroundings in particular and Ethiopia in general towards industrialization.

Jimma Industrial Park, built by the Chinese construction giant China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), is expected to host investors in light manufacturing sectors, mainly agro-processing, textile and apparel products.

Stretched on 75 hectares of land, with an ambition to attract foreign investors in Ethiopia's agro-processing sector, the industry park hosts nine manufacturing sheds.

Inaugurating the park, Ethiopia's Ahmed said that the Jimma industry park will help the western Ethiopia zone to become one of Ethiopia's industrial powerhouses.

The premiere also indicated that the industry zone, as the latest addition in Ethiopia's huge industrial park development ambitions, would help local community members particularly the youth to get the highly needed job opportunities.

Noting that foreign companies are now approaching the Ethiopian government to invest in the Jimma industry zone, Ahmed also urged local community members to strive with the Ethiopian government's efforts in terms of protecting and benefiting from the industry park.

Lelise Neme, CEO of Ethiopian Industrial Parks Development Corporation (IPDC), also said that the Jimma Industrial Park's strategic location as the source of Ethiopia's major natural resources, mainly Ethiopia's major export commodity coffee, would benefit not only the local community but also Ethiopia's economy in general.

The industry zone, which has now become the sixth operational industry zone in the East African country, would help the socioeconomic condition of Jimma town and its surroundings, Neme said.

Wen Yingzheng, General Manager of CCCC's East Africa Region, told Xinhua that CCCC was able to finalize the project's both design and construction procedures within 9 months.

"We did our best, and we are glad that a high quality industry park was completed in such a short time," he said.

In October this year, Ethiopia had also inaugurated the Adama Industrial Park, which was built by China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) and located some 74 km southeast Addis Ababa.

Both Jimma and Adama industrial parks are part of the Ethiopian government's grand plan to transform the country's largely agrarian economy into an industrialized middle income status by 2025.

The Jimma-Agaro-Dedesa road project, contracted by another Chinese construction company China Railway Construction Company - 21 Group (CRCC-21), is also a 79 km high-quality road project with 1.3 billion Ethiopian birr (about 46 million U.S. dollars) construction budget.

CRCC-21, which has previously completed two other road projects in Ethiopia, also pledged to create as many job opportunities for local community members as possible.

Speaking to Xinhua, Zhuang Jidong, President of CRCC-21, said that the road infrastructure project will be completed within 3.5 years.

"We will mobilize all resources that are available to finalize the project in time and up to the standard," Zhuang said.

"Our presence in this country gives us lots of opportunities to contribute to Ethiopia's development as well as to further strengthen the partnership between China and Ethiopia," he added.

The long-awaited road infrastructure, upon its completion, will play a key role in the development of the East African country in general as well as the area in Oromia regional state in particular, according to Lemma Megersa, President of Ethiopia's largest Oromia regional state.

Jimma town and its surroundings, which are known as the major source of Ethiopia's major export commodity coffee, are considered as an integral part of Ethiopia's recently improved export sector, in which the now-operational high quality road infrastructure is expected to spur the chain of coffee trading in Ethiopia. Enditem

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