Ethiopia Moves Toward Privatization. It’s Not about Money. It’s About Tech.

Fast-growing Ethiopia, long committed to driving its economy with state investment, has invited foreigners to invest in its state-owned shipping and logistics company. Other coveted sectors usually off limits to foreigners — like telecommunications and banks — weren’t mentioned in the solicitation, Reuters reported.

Foreign investment has been rising from the ground up in Ethiopia, including flower farms and products like wine and apparel for export and manufacturing.

Some foreign-owned firms were vandalized in 2016 during protests that turned violent over government plans to expand the capital. A six-month state of emergency imposed in October has restored some calm to the country, the government said.

A few companies left. Others put plans to expand on hold. Government promises of compensation for the damage have been extremely slow to materialize, adding to investors’ wariness, Financial Times reported.

Ethiopia plans to let foreign firms own stakes in some state-owned companies, “not because of a shortage of finances, but because we want to modernize the system itself,” Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said Monday at a news conference in Addis Ababa.

Desalegn did not say how much investment is needed, or what other sectors need money besides shipping and logistics.

“We are trying to privatize some equity of some of the companies we have,” he said. “When foreign companies get into these kinds of companies, they will obviously bring technologies, know-how and managerial capability.”

Awash winery, which produces Ethiopian wine under 12 brands, recently became fully privatized,  Addis Fortune reported. The company is 51-percent owned by 8 Miles, a U.K.- based equity firm headed by Irish rock star Bob Geldof. Geldof partnered with Mulugeta Tesfakiros, who owns real estate firm Muller Real Estate and Langano Bekele Molla Hotels in Ethiopia.