The Ethiopian Government launched a program for the privatization of state owned enterprises in early 1995. Accordingly, the Ethiopian Privatization Agency (EPA) was established to implement the privatization program in the same year. The Government has laid the ground to privatize most of the state owned enterprises to the private sector. Accordingly, EPA has received a stock of 113 state owned enterprises from the government for privatization in the years ahead. As indicated in EPA's work schedule, out of these enterprises, a total of 43 state owned enterprises are in the pipeline for privatization in the near future. Most of these enterprises fall under manufacturing, construction, agriculture and agro-industry, hotels, transport, trade, and mining sectors. There is a strong commitment from the Government side to fully privatize state enterprises in the coming in few years. Detailed information on the process of privatization can be obtained from the Ethiopian Privatization Agency.
Agriculture is the main stay of Ethiopia's economy providing employment to 85 per cent of the population. The sector contributes about 45 per cent of the GDP and 62 per cent of total exports with coffee alone accounting 39. 4 per cent of total exports in 2001/2002. Furthermore, agriculture plays a crucial role in providing raw material inputs for the local industry. Endowed with wide ranging agro-ecological zones and diversified resources, Ethiopia grows all types of cereals, fiber crops, oil seeds, coffee, tea, flowers, fruits and vegetables. The potentially irrigable land is estimated at 10 million hectares. Ethiopia has the largest livestock population in Africa. Fishery and forestry resources are also significant. Considerable opportunities exist for new private investment in the production and processing of the above agricultural crops and resources. The following areas in particular, have been identified to offer plenty of opportunities to private investors.
The food crops grown include teff, wheat, maize, beans, peas, lentils, soyabeans, chickpeas etc. In 1992/2000, Ethiopia produced 11.4 million tons of these food crops on about 8.9 million hectares of land. This is far short of the country's demand for these crops. Great opportunities, therefore, exist for commercial production and processing of these food crops. Some pulses can also be produced or processed for the export market. Oil crops such as rapeseed, linseed, groundnuts, sunflower, ginger seed and cottonseed serve as raw material inputs for the edible oil industry. Some oilseeds, including sesame, are important export crops. Favorable agro- climatic conditions also exist in the south-western parts of the country for introducing coconut for the production and processing of palm oil and ghee. Besides, Ethiopia has a huge potential for producing and processing of maize. It is widely grown in various agro-ecological zones. The total annual average production is 250 thousand metric tones in an area of about 1.4 million hectares. As part of the government's initiative to efficiently tap the available potential, detailed project profiles have already been prepared for the processing of coffee and corn.