16th June 2012
I spent this morning in an Ethiopian field at a Foundation Stone laying ceremony for the new Dashen Brewery Debrebirhan Factory, with Communications Minister Bereket Simon, various dignitaries and a large herd of interested cows.
The deal to purchase about 50% of Dashen Brewery in Gondor is the largest private equity investment in Ethiopia to date. It has been financed by UK-based Duet Group and Vasari and will increase the capacity of the company considerably, including through this new factory at Debrebirhan.
This is yet another sign of UK interest in this fast-growing market, the second big British investment in the beverage industry this year. At the ceremony I mentioned how we are seeking to assist through encouraging more bilateral trade and investment.
This includes improving the business environment (I led a UK business delegation to meet the Prime Minister a few weeks ago to discuss current problems and he was very constructive, we signed a new Double Taxation Agreement last year to give greater certainty to our companies etc.); helping promote the opportunities (building on the highly successful Ethiopian Trade, Investment and Tourism conference held in London last June); and practical steps (e.g. organising trade missions to create new bilateral links – we have had missions from the London Chamber of Commerce and an education mission recently and expect a geothermal mission soon).
But today was about beer. And as Benjamin Franklin put it, “beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy”.