International Bamboo and Rattan Organization

International Bamboo and Rattan Organization

Ethiopia hosts East African delegates for Bamboo Study Tour

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Ethiopia hosts East African delegates for Bamboo Study Tour

In a recent East Africa bamboo study tour, delegates of INBAR African Member States discovered the potential and growth of Ethiopia’s bamboo sector.

East Africa is known for its abundant bamboo resources. Ethiopia, in particular, is regarded as the country with the most advanced bamboo sector in the region, considering the current level of investment in manufacturing industries and policy focused on bamboo development. The approval of the National Bamboo Strategy and Action Plan by the government presents a favorable environment for individuals and companies to pursue technological advancement in bamboo value chain development to create a competitive market for bamboo products within the country and abroad.

INBAR has recently organized a Bamboo Study Tour in Ethiopia for East African investors, policymakers, manufacturers, civil society leaders, and private sector entrepreneurs, from Kenya and Uganda. The study tour, held from 4 to 6 Sept 2022, was designed to provide an opportunity for participants to learn from Ethiopia’s experience and best practices in sustainable bamboo product design and development.

The tour created an opportunity for participants to be able to meet key actors of the Ethiopian bamboo sector from private enterprises, government agencies and the public sector. It was packed with a variety of field visits to bamboo nursery development sites, furniture and handcraft cottage industries, factories and demonstration plots, and a bamboo planting ceremony. It created a platform for deliberations and extensive exchanges on value addition to bamboo products as well as making strategic decisions for the industrialization of the bamboo sector.

In his keynote speech, Mr. Kebede Yimam, Director General of Ethiopian Forest Development, 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 product development. The guest of honor of the opening event, H.E. Robert Shetkintong, Indian Ambassador to Ethiopia, noted that South-South development cooperation among countries of the Global South is essential for innovative forms of knowledge exchange and technology transfer using local and affordable development solutions. As such, the study tour among the participant countries is highly imperative to help enhance the bamboo sector development of the countries and transform the industry in the region.

The participants were brought to small- and medium-sized enterprises and factories where they learned the development process of different bamboo products. Adal Industrial Plc, one of the factories the delegates paid a visit to, produces high-quality bamboo products for the local and international markets. The company is a pioneer in producing bamboo products and introducing new technologies to Ethiopia. Currently, the company has 180 employees, and its products range from bamboo charcoal and toothpicks to bamboo flooring, pulp and paper.

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 provide an opportunity for business-to-business linkages and matchmaking among potential investors, entrepreneurs and industries in the bamboo sector. As noted by Mr. Ndufa James Kamiri, the head of bamboo projects at Kenya Forestry Research Institute, the study tour was an excellent opportunity for deeper interactions and exploration of investment opportunities by forging prospective partnerships with diverse actors, including manufacturers, bamboo house designers and bamboo-exporting companies.

The study tour was held as part of a triangular South-South development project, the Dutch-Sino East Africa Bamboo Development Programme Phase II, that is currently being implemented by INBAR’s East Africa Regional Office in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.