Ithraa, Oman’s Public Authority for Export Promotion & Export Development (PAIPED), has hosted a second workshop aimed at boosting Omani exports to Ethiopia, identifying 59 products that could elevate trade between Sultanate and Africa’s fastest growing economy.

Nasima Al Balushi, Ithraa’s director general for export development, said: “Ethiopia has emerged as one of Africa’s most exciting markets and the fastest-growing economy on the continent. Our optimism is shared by the International Monetary Fund’s projection of Ethiopia as the third fastest-growing economy between 2011 – 2015, trailing only China and India.”

Ethiopia’s economy grew by 9.7% from 2012 to 2013 in its tenth year of solid annual growth, and in 2012, it was the twelfth fastest growing economy in the world. Agriculture, which accounts for 42.7% of GDP, grew by 7.1%, while industry, at 12.3% of GDP, rose by 18.5%, and services, at 45% of GDP, increased by 9.9%.

Bolstered by domestic demand and an increase in private and public investment, the various African economies are expected to sustain high levels of economic growth over the next decade, and consumer spending is projected to almost double over the next 10 years.

“It’s these impressive results that sparked our interest, and as a result we commissioned an Ethiopian market study which predicts further economic momentum and points to some outstanding opportunities for Omani exporters,” noted Al Balushi.

“Although over 80% of Ethiopia’s population is rural, its urban population is growing at twice the speed as in rural areas and over half of Ethiopia is under the age of 20. It is a young, university-educated and relatively wealthy group that controls about 25% of all income, and is a highly aspirational consumer group that’s looking for new products. This is what excites us.”

The study commissioned by Ithraa in conjunction with Addis Ababa’s Sub Saharan Africa Research and Training Centre identified 59 products highly suitable for export into Ethiopia, largely in the sectors of food, pharmaceutical, aluminium, plastic, stone and cabling, as the country undergoes a boom in the development of both infrastructure and industrial zones.

“With continued market, pro-business reforms and global integration, Ethiopia is positioned for further growth, and this presents some exciting opportunities for Omani exporters,” said Al Balushi. “Now is the time to step in and capture a share of Africa’s rising middle class.

“And now is the time to engage with Ethiopian importers, and indeed we aim to focus export strategy on the commercial opportunities that exist in Ethiopia by running a series of promotional B2B meetings in Ethiopia to help Omani companies penetrate the market.”