In a recent Bamboo Study Tour and Policy Dialogue in Ethiopia, delegates of INBAR African Member States discovered the potential and growth of the country bamboo sector.
In Africa, Ethiopia is regarded as a country with an advanced bamboo sector considering the current level of investment in manufacturing industries and policy focus on bamboo development. The approval of the National Bamboo Strategy and Action Plan by the government presents a favourable environment for individuals and companies to pursue technological advancements in bamboo value chain development to create a competitive market for bamboo products in Ethiopia and abroad.
INBAR has recently organised the Ethiopia Bamboo Study Tour and Policy Dialogue for investors, policymakers, manufacturers, civil society leaders, and private sector entrepreneurs, from Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda. The study tour, held from 25-27 August 2021, was designed to provide an opportunity for participants to learn about Ethiopia’s experience and best practices in sustainable bamboo product design and development.
The goal of the study tour was to bring together policymakers, development programme managers, civil society leaders, private sector entrepreneurs, smallholder farmers and women from INBAR African Member States to promote networking and establish partnership opportunities that can leverage investment in the bamboo sector development in Africa and to share successful best practices and achievements in the bamboo sector in Ethiopia with the delegates.
A welcoming and introduction session, on the first day of the tour, created an opportunity for participants to promote themselves, to connect and share experiences on bamboo development status and the prospect of each participant country. A presentation was made on the Ethiopian Bamboo Development Strategy and Action Plan and the participants held a dialogue on policy options for bamboo sector development at national and regional levels. The session created an opportunity for them to be able to meet key actors of the Ethiopian bamboo sector from private enterprises, government agencies, and the public sector. In his keynote speech, Mr Kebede Yimam, the deputy commissioner of the Ethiopian Environment, Forestry, Climate Change Commission, stated that the study tour provides a unique opportunity for participants to learn about Ethiopia’s sustainable bamboo management experience, innovations and best practices in bamboo products development. It also creates a platform for deliberations and extensive exchanges on value addition to the bamboo as well as making strategic decisions for the industrialisation of the bamboo sector.
Subsequent schedules of the tour were packed with a variety of field visits, with highlights including visits to bamboo nursery development sites, furniture and handcraft cottage industries, factories, research institutions, demonstration plots, and a bamboo planting ceremony. The participants were brought to SMEs and factories where they visited the development process of different bamboo products. Adal Bamboo private limited company, one of the factories the delegates visited, produces high-quality bamboo products for the local and international market. Adal is a pioneer industry to produce bamboo products and introduce its technologies to Ethiopia. Currently, the company has 180 employees and its products range from bamboo charcoal and toothpicks to bamboo flooring and paper pulp. The delegates also visited ‘Bamboo Labs’ in Addis Ababa, a start-up company that produces bamboo bicycles and patient wheelchairs as well as other bamboo crafts. Abel, the founder, took inspiration from a bamboo bicycle manufacturing company in Ghana (Booomers Bikes) during the last Ghana Bamboo Study Tour under the SSTC facility.
“The recent bamboo study tour to Ghana was very useful as it enabled me to learn the methods and technology used in producing bamboo bicycles. It was really an eye-opening experience and now I am making similar bicycles using the available resources and materials in my country” – said Abel Hailegiorgis
Furthermore, the participants were brought to the Ethiopian Environment and Forestry Research Institute and visited bamboo plantation model sites wherein research activities are being carried out to evaluate the performance of local and exotic bamboo species against different climatic and ecological zones. The objective was to show participants best practices in nursery management as well as how research and development could help for adaptation and better performance of exotic species in bamboo resource development. A memorial bamboo planting ceremony was also held and participants planted local bamboo seedlings in and around Bishoftu city where the research institute is located.
“I didn’t know that bamboo could be so important in creating jobs, and building development in general. When I went to Adal factory, I was very impressed that nothing goes to waste. Even the chaff at the end of the day is useful for something else. What I have learnt is bamboo is very important from the leaf to the root. If China is making so much out of bamboo, we can harness so much. African cab build its economy also on bamboo” – said Mrs. Martha Crenstil Acquah, a participant from Multimedia Ghana
The study tour was adjourned by a city tour in and around Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, and a closing dinner. Study tours like this are not only about knowledge sharing, exposure and learning, but they can also pose an opportunity for business to business linkage and match-making among potential bamboo investors, entrepreneurs and industries in the bamboo sector development. Mr. Peter Baguda, a director from the Federal Environment Ministry of Nigeria, noted that the study tour was an excellent opportunity for deeper interactions, exploration investment opportunities by forging prospective partnerships with diverse actors, including manufacturers, bamboo house designers, and bamboo exporting companies.