Thursday, April 04, 2013

Ethiopia could be shoemaker to the world

(Apr 04, 2013, Business Day))--HELEN Hai, GM for overseas investment at Huajian Group, a leading Chinese footwear manufacturer, has a bold vision: in 10 years she wants Ethiopia to be a global hub for the shoe industry, supplying the African, European and American markets and providing jobs for more than 100,000 local workers.

WALK THE TALK: Chinese company Huajian is training 130 Ethiopian university graduates to be future managers.
"We are not coming all the way here just to reduce by 10%-20% our costs.… Our aim here is in 10 years’ time to have a new cluster of shoes making," Ms Hai explains. "Definitely we want to build a whole supply chain … I want everything to be produced here."

Last January, Huajian signed a memorandum of understanding with the China-Africa Developmen Fund, a private equity fund that facilitates Chinese investment on the continent, to jointly invest $2bn over a decade in creating a light-manufacturing special economic zone in Ethiopia.

The company has already leased 300ha of land in Lebu, on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital, where it plans to build a shoe city, with accommodation for 200,000 people and factory space for other manufacturers of footwear, handbags, accessories and components. Ms Hai expects construction to begin there later this year. Read more from Business Day »

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