This year marks the 13th year anniversary of the Ethiopian Diaspora Business Forum (Forum) and the 12th Forum. The Forum is a private sector independent business association based in Washington DC. The Forum promotes business and investment between Ethiopia and the United States through annual conference, regional meetings and policy advocacy. We were fortunate to have in past years speakers such as Assistant Secretary of State Karl Wycoff, Thomas Debass, Deputy Special Representative for Global Partnerships in the Office of the Secretary of State’s Global Partnership Initiative, and Mimi Alemayehou, former EVP at OPIC and Washington DC Mayor Vincent Gray.
USAID, GWU, Ernst & Young Ethiopia, Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and Ethiopian Airlines, have been our key sponsors over the years. For this year’s Forum, we have lined up high powered speakers who will join us from as far as Ethiopia, California and Europe. We are also expecting a surprise guest speaker to deliver the opening address.
The theme of this year’s Forum is “The Future of Diaspora Investment in Ethiopia: Exploring the Role of the Diaspora and New Opportunities“. The theme of the meeting was inspired by the historic changes taking place in Ethiopia at the moment. Ethiopia, indeed, is in the midst of an economic transition. The country’s economy has been growing by double digit for the past 10 years and has become a top destination for Foreign Direct Investment in Sub-Saharan Africa. Despite the country’s impressive economic growth, many challenges persist. The 12th Ethiopian Diaspora Business Forum will review and discuss current business opportunities and challenges in light of the recent shift in investment policy announced by the Government of Ethiopia.
A range of new investment policies have been tabled for discussion, including the opening of specific sectors in the past closed for Diaspora investment in Ethiopia. The potential opening of the financial sector, media and telecom to Diaspora investments along with the ability of Diaspora professionals from the legal and other sectors to participate in Ethiopia’s economy is monumental. These changes will have huge impacts in the way the Diaspora will engage in Ethiopia’s economy in the near future.
The 12th Ethiopian Diaspora Business Forum will present highly respected speakers who will speak about their respective current investments in Ethiopia and potential investment/financing opportunities from firms engaged in supporting investments. The Forum will also discuss how best to take advantage of the proposed opening of the financial sector, telecom, media and other sectors currently closed to the Diaspora.
About the Author: Yohannes Assefa is executive director of Ethiopian Diaspora Business Forum