State Minister Tewodros Gebre Egziabher told The Ethiopian Herald that mining activities were mainly carried out by the governments previously but now private companies have become dominant in the industry.
He emphasized that the mining industry has already shown progress in terms of its contribution to the national economy. He said, “Gold has been extensively mined and the country has been earning a great deal of hard currency over the last 15 years. The same is true for opal and other precious minerals.”
Right now the government is eyeing on developing the country’s enormous potash and iron ore fit potentials with a view to producing locally made fertilizer and steel , he added.
Tewodros noted that the ministry’s intervention contributed to the rise of the number of investors in the mining sector.
Those companies that were inactive for a long time having taken mining license were striped off the license and replaced by vibrant mining companies that have good reputation and capacity, he added.
“The number of companies before such corrective measures taken were 150 at federal level, but currently, there are 280 companies with exploration license, while 135 are on production. The total figure of licensed companies is 3,250.”
According to the state minister, incentives packages for the mining sector in Ethiopia is comparatively better off other African nations.
He pointed out that the mining industry has not yet been contributing its deserved share to the country’s GDP, which is below two percent on average though efforts are underway to raise it to 10 percent.
One of the reasons for such inefficiency in the sector is the fact that mining demands huge investment, he said, adding that the other big challenge some investors who got the licenses attempted to transfer or sell with little benefit, which deterred the entry of competent global extracting firms.
The state minister also said that those who are interested in mining can easily access any information from the ministry regarding oil, gas and mining activities in the country.
He finally stressed that the media and other stakeholders need to play a vital role in creating awareness about the performances of government and the private sectors as well as the benefits of the society from the sector.
A number of geological studies have indicated that Ethiopia is endowed with various types of industrial and construction mineral resources apart from its three major precious metallic green-stone belts. Moreover, six major basins have been identified with the highest concentrations of hydrocarbon resources (oil and natural gas).
Despite the availability of such huge natural resources, the mining industry is at its infancy stage in the country. In fact, the number of private mining companies has been flourishing after the incumbent took power in 1991.
Cognizant of its significance, the government has established the Ministry last year aimed at transforming the sector.
– This article was written by Sintayehu Tamirat and originally published on AllAfrica.com