Almost a month after German auto giants DW announced entry into Ethiopia, another global giant Hyundai opened an assembly plant in the country on Thursday, February 21.
The plant is a joint venture between the South Korean carmaker and decorated Ethiopian athlete Haile Gebreselassie who owns Marathon Motors brand.
Hyundai Motor Company CEO, Mr. Won Hee Lee, was in town for the inaugural ceremony as was Gebreselassie and high ranking government officials including Foreign Affairs minister, Workneh Ghebeyehu.
The cost of the Hyundai Marathon motor vehicle assembly plant is estimated at half a billion birr. It will employ an estimated 200 people from the start, a figure that could go as high as 1,000 when it goes fully operational.
It becomes one of few assembly plants in the region and has the capacity to assemble 5,000 cars annually.
This becomes the second major business area of Haileselassie who also operates a hospitality business under the Haile Resort brand.
The former Olympic and World Champion in athletics aside business has also served as president of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation, a post he relinquished in November 2018.
Ethiopia’s economy has been on an upward trajectory in the last few years despite anti-government unrest that roiled especially its largest region – Oromia.
The coming into office of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in April 2018 has added more economic boost to his wide ranging democratic reforms.
International lenders have made key budgetary support for the government whiles the formerly tightly controlled economy is being loosened up by Abiy’s reforms.