International Bamboo and Rattan Organization

International Bamboo and Rattan Organization

Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda Impress Investors on INBAR-led Bamboo Study Tour


Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda Impress Investors on INBAR-led Bamboo Study Tour

26 August 2019:- As part of the Dutch-Sino East Africa Bamboo Development Programme, a study tour to Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya promises to open up new avenues for investment in the East African Africa bamboo industry. 

Participants meet representatives from Uganda’s National Forest Authority and other key stakeholders on the Ugandan leg of the recent INBAR-led Study Tour to encourage investment in East Africa.

Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda – the three beneficiary countries of INBAR’s Dutch-Sino East Africa Bamboo Development Programme – are blessed with plentiful bamboo resources. However, these potentially valuable bamboo resources are underutilised and their use is often confined to traditional applications such as fencing, traditional housing, basketry and simple furniture. Without strong investment from private entities acting in an enabling regulatory environment for the bamboo industry, it will not grow to reach its full potential in these countries.

Over the last two and half years, INBAR has worked with its focal agencies in Member State governments, namely the Ethiopian Environment, Forest and Climate Change (EEFCCC); Kenya’s Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI); and Uganda’s National Forestry Authority (NFA). The project has made good progress in quantifying the bamboo resource base, validating the properties of local bamboo species for suitable applications, undertaking market studies, bamboo resource development (nursery, plantation and sustainable management), capacity building/setting up enterprises for value addition; and finally creating an enabling regulatory environment for the bamboo industry, which includes policy dialogue and formulation, the development of standards, and creating platforms for bamboo development.

Ten potential investors from China, India and Ethiopia travelled to Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda from 4 – 12 August 2019 to meet with local enterprises and investment agencies and learn more about the potential of the East African bamboo industry.

The whole group in the Kenyan leg of the Investor Study Tour

INBAR has been a source of “continuous support’ for many of these countries over the years, according to one Chinese delegate. This investor tour is just one of the areas in which INBAR supports private enterprises in the bamboo industry. The following potential investors joined the tour. To find out more about the Chinese companies and stakeholders represented, browse the presentations here.

The ten participants were treated to a packed programme of visits, lectures and networking opportunities. In each of the three target countries, several days of field visits were followed by a workshop in which key stakeholders from private enterprises, government agencies and the public sector were invited to join the group for a more formal meeting followed by networking.

In Kenya, these varied groups included KEFRI, Kenya Forest Service; the Presidential Strategic and Policy Unit; the Kenya Investment Authority; the Kenya Water Towers Agency; the Kenya National Cleaner Production Centre; the consumer goods company Bidco Africa; local businesses Green Pot Enterprises and Homelime Co. Ltd; and non-profit organisations the Kenya Bamboo Association, Moon Light Initiative, Eco-Green, and Back to Basics. In Ethiopia, they included 40  participants from the Ethiopian Environment, Forest and Climate Change Commission; the Ethiopian Investment Authority; Ethiopian Tourism and Trading Enterprise; the Chinese Embassy in Ethiopia; German development agency GIZ; IKEA; the Ethiopian Standards Agency; the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture; Building Construction and City Development; Amhara Forest Enterprise; the Ministry of Trade and Industry; and Ethiopian enterprises Adal Industries, CEE, Bohail Trading company, Bamboo Star, Lelena Global, SA Bamboo, and Victory A. Finally, in Uganda the half-day multi-stakeholder workshop was attended by 37 participants from the Ugandan Ministry of Water and Environment; the Ugandan Ministry of Tourism,Wildlife and Antiquities; the Ugandan National Forestry Authority; the Uganda Investment Authority; the Uganda Industrial Research Institute , the Ugandan Ministry of Trade, Industries and Cooperatives; the Ugandan Ministry of Finance; Nile Ply Ltd; Divine Bamboo; Mhaginga Cultural Center; Friends of Bamboo; Your Choice Bamboo Toothpicks; BVU Propagations; AW Bamboo Enterprises; Elgon Naturals; Boogali Bikes; Egrets Eco-Conservation Estates; Eco ways Ltd; Albatroos Safaris; Bamboo Village; and the UBRE project.

Participants take the opportunity to exchange ideas and get to know each other.

In each country, participants met for presentations, meetings and workshops

The field visits which took place over the three countries were just as varied, with highlights including visits to bamboo forest sites, research centres, factories and demonstration plots. The specific local context for each country and region was sketched out over presentation, lectures and guided tours, and the group had ample opportunity to discuss potential partnerships and investment angles.

Field trips like this one in Kenya are a key way to learn more about the local context

Discussion between participants and local stakeholders









During his opening speech at the workshop in Kenya, Hon. Mohamed Ibrahim Elmi, Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forest, Kenya, summarised his country’s hopes for the bamboo sector thus:

“In addition to bamboo’s environmental benefits and protection of the water table. we aim to commercialise bamboo for benefiting farmers, women and youth. Kenya has land (public, private), skilled manpower and entrepreneurial culture. We are specifically looking for technology, investment in production and value-chain development, machinery and experience from potential investors. We encourage local companies to partner with international companies. The ministry thanks INBAR’s Dutch Sino East Africa Bamboo Development Programme for making this happen and for all the development efforts in past two years.”

Mr. Sandeep Sanan, Chief Representative Officer (Ethiopia)/New Business Manager (East Africa) in the IKEA Supply AG Commercial Representative Office mentioned that “this investor study tour and workshop exceeded our wildest expectations, and it has been highly useful for us. We are feeling very positive about the development and this will open up new avenues for us. The workshop also introduced us to potential partners, suppliers and important stakeholders”.

Study tours like this are about more than just attracting specific investment: The visit was an opportunity to broaden the scope of possibility for both investors and potential investment areas for the global bamboo industry, as well as a learning opportunity for all involved. As Liu Xiu from the Yong’an Bamboo Industrial Institute noted at the end of the Uganda section of the tour, these preliminary meetings were just the beginning of what will hopefully be many fruitful partnerships between his and other Chinese enterprises and their East African counterparts: “This tour was a very useful starting point to understand the local context. We will hold meetings with many other Chinese enterprises who will also be interested in investing in East Africa.”

To read more about the Dutch-Sino East Africa Bamboo Industry Development Project, click here.