* Ethiopia has relied on state-led investment
* Prime minister aims to sell stake in logistics firm
* No details on what other stakes might be offered
* IMF says Ethiopia needs more private investment
(Adds quotes by the prime minister, details)
By Aaron Maasho
ADDIS ABABA, Jan 9 Ethiopia aims to offer
foreign firms stakes in some state-owned companies to help
modernise the businesses, the prime minister said on Monday in a
shift from stressing state investment to drive growth.
The move would include offering a stake in state-owned
Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Services Enterprise, Prime
Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told a news conference, without
naming other firms or giving the size of any stakes on offer.
It was not immediately clear if the initiative would mean
opening up the state-run telecommunications sector or banks,
which are either owned by the government or private Ethiopian
investors. Foreigners have eyed those sectors in particular.
"We are trying to privatise some equity of some of the
companies we have ... It is not because of a shortage of
finances, but because we want to modernise the system itself,"
he said in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
"When foreign companies get into these kinds of companies,
they will obviously bring technologies, know-how and managerial
capability," he said.
Ethiopia's economy is one of the fastest growing in Africa,
but the expansion has mainly been fuelled by huge state
investment in dams for hydroelectric power, new highways and an
electrified railway linking the landlocked nation to a port in
The International Monetary Fund has said Ethiopia needs to
attract more private sector investment to maintain growth. But
the government has in the past tended to brush off such advice
and said it would keep charge of key sectors.
Improving transport is vital to Ethiopia's bid to become an
industrial hub for the region. The new railway will cut the
journey time for exporting goods to the coast to a few hours
from what would in the past take at least two days.
Referring to Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics, the prime
minister said: "The newly inaugurated railway will substantially
decrease the cost of transportation in this country. But the
logistics issue is critical as well."
"That is why we want to bring new insight and introduction
of new ways of doing business and to modernize the system with
some renowned companies' intervention into the logistics
system," he said.
He did not give details about what stake might be on offer
but it is likely to hearten foreign investors, keen to have
greater access to a nation with almost 100 million people and
which offers cheap power supplies and labour.
Foreign investment has already been rising from a low base,
including farms producing flowers and other horticultural
products for export and in manufacturing.
Some foreign-owned firms' facilities were damaged last year
in protests sparked by a government development plan for the
capital area but which broadened into broader anti-government
protests. The government imposed a state of emergency in
October, saying at the time it would last six months.
The prime minister told Monday's news conference that
emergency rule had helped restore "normalcy" but the government
now had to "consolidate the gains", giving no clear timeline for
lifting the measure.
(Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Tom Heneghan)