Ethiopian Airlines staff prepare their plane as they resume flights to Eritrea’s capital Asmara at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia yesterday.Picture: REUTERS
INTERNATIONAL - Ethiopia is open to selling off a host of state-owned firms, either partially or entirely, as part of major economic reforms designed to “unleash the potential of the private sector”, its information minister said yesterday.

In an interview, Ahmed Shide said the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed - which has announced a slew of shake-ups since coming into office in April - would retain majority holdings in the state-run airline, logistics, telecoms and energy companies.

However, everything else, from hotels to sugar farming to cement production, could be up for sale, with the sole exception of the tightly controlled financial services sector whose fate was yet to be decided, he said.

“The main objective of this is to encourage private sector development in the country,” Ahmed said, making clear that the nation of 100 million was turning the page on decades of reliance on the state to drive economic growth.

“The role of the private sector is very fundamental. We did a lot of state development projects. Now we need to unleash the potential of the private sector,” he said. Ahmed did not give a time-frame for the privatisations but said the government was tendering for advice from global business consultancies including McKinsey and PwC.

“The detailed planning is not complete but precautions will be made not to have mistakes,” he said. “So we will do it with caution.”