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News: Tigray’s industries grapple with losses, await gov’t response

Among the major industries affected by extensive looting and damage during the two-year conflict in the Tigray region is Almeda Textile Factory, which employed over 5,000 individuals (Photo: Social Media)

Addis Abeba – The Tigray Industry Bureau has officially solicited specific assistance from the federal government to rejuvenate the adversely affected manufacturing sector in the region, a consequence of the pandemic and the prolonged two-year war.

Prior to the onset of the war in November 2020, investors in Tigray sought loans from financial institutions amidst the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Regrettably, the war ensued, causing disruptions in manufacturing processes for a duration of three years.

Mehari Gebremichael, deputy head of the Tigray Industry Bureau, told Addis Standard that some investors concluded their grace periods during the war, resulting in increased pressure from banks for debt repayment. This further intensified the distress experienced by the investors.

The deputy head has articulated that the plea from the region to the federal government encompasses requests for incentives, including, but not limited to, the waiving of loan interest and the provision of fresh loans at reduced interest rates.

“Significant challenges also arise from the limited availability of raw materials and foreign currency,” Mehari stated.

Mehari underscored that the Ministry of Industry has been offering assistance subsequent to the Pretoria peace agreement. Nonetheless, the support from the federal government for the reconstruction of the industrial sector has proven inadequate.

The Bureau has identified 139 medium and large industries that could be readily restored following the Pretoria peace agreement. “However, despite submission to the federal government, these cases have not received the special attention they require.”

Preceding the war, Tigray accommodated 61 significant capital-intensive industries, a majority of which suffered complete or partial destruction during the war. Prominent casualties, experiencing full damage, encompass Almeda Textile PLC, Saba Stone, Ezana Mining Development PLC, and Sheba Leather Industry PLC.

While certain industries, such as Messebo Cement Factory, succeeded in resuming operations despite significant damages, others like Moha Soft Drinks Industry S.C, and several others, are still contending with the aftermath.

Mehari underscores despite the multifaceted support provided by the Ministry of Industry, the financial challenges confronted by these industries surpass the scope of the ministry’s mandate, underscoring the need for comprehensive assistance from the federal government.

An anonymous proprietor of a substantial investment in Mekelle, the capital of the Tigray region, has revealed substantial losses totaling at least 20 million birr due to the war in the Tigray region.

Unfortunately, the manufacturing factory continues to be non-operational, attributable to a combination of banking complications and the repercussions of the conflict in Tigray. The investor conveyed frustration, articulating, “We have submitted numerous requests for assistance; however, regrettably, we have received no response.” AS

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