“We want to see thousands of companies go into operation in a very short time” Arkebe Oqubay (PhD)
Arkebe wants to do a similarly uncluttered job in fulfilment of his latest passion; delivering no less than five industrial parks in different parts of the country in the coming five years. Best known and admired for his role as a transformational mayor of Addis Abeba at the turn of the century, those who worked closely with Arkebe describe him as a “merciless implementer”. He had earned the title of African Mayor of 2005, from the Broadcasting Network of Africa.
True to their assessment, he presents himself as no less than a corporate executive in seeing the Hawassa Industrial Parks built within six months, in readiness for the “plug-and-play” start demanded by leading manufacturers.
Talking about his expectations of the industrial project under construction in the lakeside town, seat of the southern regional state, Arkebe remains lucid, an obvious consequence of his doctoral studies in industrial economics from the University of London, School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS). But Hawassa’s is only one of several industrial parks to emerge over the coming years, at an estimated cost of 30 billion Br.
It is a long way from the years of “industrial village” piloted on the southern outskirts of Addis Abeba a decade ago. Dozens of indigenous small scale manufacturers were clustered, with promised provision of utilities and public services.
Large scale industrial parks, however, came into existence following the adoption of the first growth and transformation plan (GTP I), in 2010. It had aspired to see the operation of industrial parks in Addis Abeba, Semera, Kombolcha and Dire Dawa. To the disappointment of Arkebe and many of his colleagues in the government, only the park in Addis Abeba’s Bole Lemi, has got off the ground. Even then, the first phase of that park is still under construction with the involvement of 23 contractors, well beyond the expiration of GTP I.
Arkebe appears determined to change this in the next five years. But, he and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn have yet to win the ideological battle within the core of the ruling party. Both on the grounds of soliciting finance from the international bond market, and the place industrial parks should claim in the overall roadmap for growth the party should follow, debate and dissent abound in the EPRDF.
Arkebe, nonetheless, argues that such voices are in the margin and pledges that the future is for Ethiopia. Ethiopians should expect no less than a miracle. Read his interview from Addis Fortune