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Ethiopia's Hawassa Industrial Park

Ethiopia, Africa

Aspiring to follow China as the industrial world's source of cheap labor, Ethiopia is developing one step at a time.

Complete Video Script

While Ethiopia may not export a lot of natural resources, with a 100 million people, it has lots of potential labor. And that in itself can be a valuable resource.

With lots of young people looking for jobs, Ethiopia has made training a skilled workforce a priority. Learning industrial sewing is good prep for a solid job.

And these grads got that job just down the street at the Hawassa Industrial Park. This is one of many sprawling complexes of industrial sheds designed to generate export income for Ethiopia. Each shed is run by an international manufacturing company. This is made possible, in part, because of supportive US trade policy, the low cost of Ethiopian labor, and the government's aggressive initiative to attract business.

Rick: Thank you for having us here. What is this park?
Fitsum: Yeah. Hawassa Industrial Park is a government industrial park built just for the export purpose and attracting the foreign direct investment here.

We have 52 factory sheds and 22 companies from different parts of the world, like from USA, Belgium, Spain, you know; Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India. So when the park is fully operational it will create 60,000 job opportunities, and one billion US dollars from the export, also per annum, and also we have an airport here in Hawassa, and also we have an expressway, so it will make it easy just to export our products to abroad markets.

Ethiopian workers are about where China's workers were a generation ago. As China has developed, it's no longer the world's primary source of cheap labor. Ethiopia aspires to spur its development by helping to fill that role in the global economy.