Concerns Rising With Ethiopia’s Industrial Parks


These days the issue of industrials parks and their unprecedented expansion in Ethiopia draws the attention of many stakeholders including the mass media, public policy makers, academia, and environmentalists at large.

The introduction of industrial parks dates back to centuries, when the first industrial park was started. Trafford Park was established by a company named ‘Ship canal & Docks’ near Manchester, Great Britain in 1896.

Also called “industrial development zones”, industrial parks are areas reserved for industrial development and are usually located close to transportation accessible sites, roads and rails. The rationale behind industrial park introduction was based on several principles. Most of all include allocation of specialized infrastructure in selected areas with the aim of decreasing costs connected to building infrastructure and the capability of a country to attract new investors, which would eliminate social and ecological impacts caused by industrial production.

When we glance at the status quo in Ethiopia, the notion of industrial parks is very nascent and new, as it has been less than a decade since their introduction. Legally the idea of industrial parks was first introduced in Ethiopia by the investment proclamation.

To say that an entity is an industrial park, first it must have an identified area labeled by the government like the Federal Investment Commission or Regional Investment Agencies. Secondly, the industrial activity must be similar or interrelated. For instance if one factory in the park is producing fabricated cotton and wool whereas the other factory will use its products to produce textile, then such factories are interdependent and multi-faceted. Thirdly, there must be a bundle of benefits such as having common infrastructure with huge incentives. This can include tax holiday from 10-15 years, one stop-shop service, long periods of land leasing from 60-80 years, customs facilitation and summary procedures in securing permits. Finally, the industrial park must strive to achieve the triple objectives of advancing industrial development, mitigating impacts of pollution and working for urban development.

However, the last element of the definition is self-contradictory since it is unusual to have industrial development without mortgaging environment unless there is an effective Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and period of monitoring.

The investment proclamation obliges the federal government to establish industrial development zones in regions in order to change the agriculture led economy into industrialization and play the leading role in the overall GDP of the country. However, the ownership of such industrial parks is exclusively given to the government but in some cases a joint ownership is possible.

To facilitate industrial parks operation the council of ministries establishes an entity responsible for it. To this end, the Industrial Parks Development Corporation was introduced via regulation. The legal standards are moderated and fortified by the subsequent governmental policies and plans which ultimately boost the expansion of industrial parks.

In order to help the country’s socio-economic development through attracting foreign direct investment, the government in collaboration with the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank is spearheading as well as simulating an Industrial Zone Development program which is implemented with funds contributed by the government, the IDA and other development partners. The Ministry of Industry (MOI), with the support of the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) plans to support the Government’s Industrial Zones program through the Competiveness and Job Creation Project.

There are two functional and fully operational industrial parks, Hawassa Industrial Park- Flagship Park and Bole Lemi I Industrial Park. And there are around eight industrial parks that are almost complete such as Dire Dawa, Adama, Meqelle, Kombolcha, Qilinto, Arerti, Bole Lemi II and Debre Berhan.

Concerns are growing from eco-centrism and earth jurisprudence which reiterates climate change issues due to emissions and loss of biodiversity because of the expansion of industrial parks.

The debate over human and nature relationship is not only a legal issue but also a philosophical and moral one. The most contentious theories are anthropocentrism and eco-centrism which tries to protect the environment and human-centered activities.

Anthropocentrism is deeply embedded in traditional and religious views as some people believe that they were given dominion over nature’s plants and animals to serve their needs. The idea of a human-centered nature, explicitly states that humans are the sole bearers of intrinsic value and all other living things are there to sustain humanity’s existence. To put it differently, Anthropocentrism regards only humans as having intrinsic value, a claim usually based on their capacity either to experience pleasure and pain or to reason. Although, the rest of nature is of instrumental value; it has value and deserves moral consideration only if it enhances human well-beings.

On the other hand, eco-centrism theory regards humans as subject to ecologies and systems as well as laws that are ethical and political and its social prescriptions are concerned with both humans and non-humans. An eco-centric theorist argues nature has its own intrinsic value so that preserving nature from human interference in most cases is mandatory. According to this theory, industrial parks expansion should not affect the mass bio-diversity, fauna and flora as well as non-living things in the area where the project is going to be launched.

Striking the demands of anthropocentrism and eco-centrism through monitoring environmental information and consultations with the local community and sustainability of nature could be panacea. Otherwise, the industrial parks boom would lead to purgatory. Beyond green concerns, development of industrial parks needs to pay attention to the economy and allocate both industrial production and service sectors in a way that progress of regional states where a park is built improves. An improper and incorrect allocation may result in an increase of existing problems which will have spillover effects.


By Yohannes Eneyew
Yohannes Eneyew Ayalew is Lecturer of Law at the School of Law, Samara University. He is interested in International Law, Human rights, Investment & construction Law. He can be reached at

Published on Feb 07,2017 [ Vol 17 ,No 875]



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