U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia
at Ethio Lease Event
Sheraton Hotel, Addis Ababa
August 8, 2019
(As prepared for delivery)
Your Excellency Mr. Ahmed Shide, Minister of Finance;
Dr. Yinager Dessie, National Bank of Ethiopia Governor;
Mr. Girma Wake, Chairman of the Board of Directors and former CEO of Ethiopian Airlines;
Mr. Girum Tsegaye, CEO of Ethio Lease;
Mr. Frans VanSchaik, Executive Chairman of African Asset Finance Company Holdings.
It’s a great pleasure for me to be a part of today’s launch of Ethio Lease.
This event represents a big step forward in Ethiopia’s ambitious economic growth and reform efforts.
The United States government continues to be greatly encouraged by the steps Ethiopia is taking to liberalize its financial services sector and promote sustainable economic growth, and the milestone we’re celebrating today is an important part of that journey. The United States remains fully committed to supporting Ethiopia’s economic reforms because they lay the groundwork for more jobs and more prosperity for Ethiopians, while creating more economic activity and opportunity for all.
One of the key ways in which Ethiopia’s reforms will have these important outcomes is by attracting a critical mass of top-quality private sector investment, whether from Ethiopia or internationally. Nothing accelerates economic growth and job creation like socially responsible private sector activity, and the U.S. private sector ranks at the very top when it comes to win-win investments that promote strong labor standards, fair wages, responsible environmental practices, and meaningful technology transfer and human capital development.
For Ethiopia’s reforms to succeed, and for its economy to thrive, the private sector has a crucial role to play. That’s why I’m thrilled to be here at today’s important event. Ethio Lease represents an amazing opportunity: tens of millions of dollars of American capital; the latest in manufacturing, agriculture, and construction equipment technology; and a sustainable financial model that unleashes the potential of Ethiopian businesses without adding to Ethiopia’s debt burden. This is a prime example of how the United States invests in Ethiopia.
And because responsible private sector engagement is always a win-win proposition, Ethio Lease offers enormous growth opportunities not only in Ethiopia, but in the United States as well. Equipment purchases from John Deere, Caterpillar, and other top-quality American companies mean more American jobs and exports, while at the same time bringing millions of dollars in state-of-the-art equipment into Ethiopia to accelerate economic growth and job creation.
The equipment Ethio Lease is bringing into Ethiopia will help ensure that farms are plowed faster and better to boost agricultural output; that manufacturing facilities operate more efficiently while targeting their resources to maximize growth; and that buildings are constructed more quickly, durably, and cost-effectively throughout Ethiopia. Ethio Lease will have the capacity to lease equipment across the full spectrum of Ethiopia’s economy, from the largest corporations to the smallest start-ups and landholdings. It will offer a truly democratic opportunity for everyone to access the latest equipment and technology at affordable rental rates.
The success of Ethio Lease will also help Ethiopians gain an even greater appreciation for the benefits that the American private sector is bringing to Ethiopia, and the top quality and long-term value that U.S. products offer. The launch of Ethio Lease today reflects enormous support and efforts by the Ethiopian government, and serves as a symbol for the improvements to Ethiopia’s business environment that are underway. I’d like to sincerely thank the very senior representatives of the Ethiopian government who are present today, both for their untiring support and for their participation in today’s celebration.
I’m often asked by Ethiopian officials to promote Ethiopia’s commercial opportunities to U.S. firms, and I take great pleasure in doing so. But I will never be the most effective ambassador for Ethiopia’s economic opportunities; rather, the best ambassadors for Ethiopia’s economic opportunities are the U.S. businesses that are already finding success on the ground here.As Ethio Lease builds its own success in Ethiopia, it will be the latest U.S. ambassador for both the commercial opportunities that Ethiopia presents, and for the transformative impacts that top-quality U.S. private investment are having in building Ethiopia’s long-term prosperity.
My embassy team and I look forward seeing Ethio Lease thrive in Ethiopia, and to supporting its success. We also look forward to celebrating many more stories of successful U.S. investments in Ethiopia in the days to come. My sincerest congratulations to Ethio Lease on the historic achievement we’re celebrating today, and my deepest thanks to everyone, particularly our Government of Ethiopia counterparts as well as my own embassy colleagues, who played a role in bringing this day about.