Ethiopian Opportunities. American Investments.

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs and Office of Global Partnerships hosted the first ever Ethiopia Partnerships Forum (EPF) in Washington, DC on May 15-16, 2019. The EPF convened more than 400 private sector leaders and public policymakers from the U.S. and Ethiopia to raise awareness of Ethiopia’s recent economic reforms and emerging business opportunities, accelerate American investments to transform Ethiopia’s economy, and envision a new future of engagement between the two countries.

What was the Ethiopia Partnerships Forum?

To support ongoing political and economic reforms in Ethiopia, the U.S. Department of State convened the Ethiopia Partnerships Forum (EPF), a U.S.-Ethiopia economic engagement platform to explore how American investment can contribute to transformational change of Ethiopia’s economic and commercial landscape. The EPF brought together leaders from the private and public sector in the United States and a delegation of Ethiopian policymakers to present their insights on ways to strengthen bilateral and regional engagement. The action-oriented forum was comprised of two days of interactive panels, inspirational keynotes, networking sessions, and announcements of opportunities for post-forum implementation. The design of this event was driven by a need to develop revenue-generating deals in specific sectors that will benefit both Americans and Ethiopians by fostering trade, investment, growth, and job creation. The EPF was a unique opportunity to understand the dynamic changes taking place in Ethiopia, with a focus on formulating future business strategies and building strategic partnerships.

When and where was it held?

The EPF kicked off on Wednesday, May 15, 2019 in the Loy Henderson Auditorium at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC. The second day featured a series of concurrent industry-focused events in various venues hosted by partners in Washington, DC. These events served as more thorough explorations of the areas of opportunity presented at the first day of the forum, including Infrastructure, Agriculture, Access to Capital, the Startup Ecosystem, and the Creative Industries. These deep dives promoted creative collaboration to address Ethiopia’s business climate challenges and promote ideas to spur new investments.

Why Ethiopia?

Ethiopia’s future is now. Africa’s fastest growing economy, and the continent’s second most populous country, is at the precipice of unprecedented opportunity for both Ethiopians and the global community. Upon taking office in April 2018, Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed declared a “New Horizon of Hope” for Ethiopia. He has promised Ethiopia’s first free and fair elections in 2020, has helped broker peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia, ending a nearly 20 year war, and is focused on dramatic economic reforms aimed at “unleashing the potential of the private sector.”

Ethiopia is moving towards greater private sector participation, and has announced plans to privatize a number of enterprises and industries long-controlled by the state. The government of Ethiopia has focused on the services sector, including finance and telecommunications, as potential engines of growth and seeks partners to develop world-class infrastructure, including capital markets and ICT. Additionally, the country is revamping policy to rely more heavily on public-private partnerships (PPPs) for large infrastructure projects, and has already committed to 17 PPPs worth $7 billion. In December 2018, the Prime Minister’s administration unveiled a new initiative to improve the ease of doing business in the country, an exciting development for the private sector both in and outside of Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is demonstrating a clear intent to engage more actively with the private sector as the country strives to maintain its growth and meet its goal of reaching lower-middle income status by 2025. Investors, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists from the United States and Ethiopia will have unparalleled opportunities to bolster their vision for the future. EPF aims to ensure that both countries benefit from this historic moment.

What is planned for follow up?

The Forum will be followed by a Partnership Opportunity Delegation (POD) to Ethiopia during the first week of July. The Ethiopia POD will consist of a group of startup ecosystem developers, creative industry players, and representatives from the U.S. innovation sector who will visit the country for three to five days to meet with key officials and partners from the country. These delegations help to cultivate and enable partnership opportunities in communities of mutual interest, and provide unique insight and networks to bring much needed investments to the Ethiopian market. The delegation will coincide with P!TCH ETHIOP!A, a three-day startup bootcamp for Ethiopian entrepreneurs, and WiSci Ethiopia, a two week STEAM camp for American and African high school girls.

How do I get involved?

If you are interested in joining the Partnership Opportunity Delegation to Ethiopia or learning more about GP’s activities in Ethiopia, please reach out to

U.S. Department of State

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