Special Economic Zones: Ethiopian Case Study
Special Economic Zones (SEZs) represent delimited zones in which industrial development is promoted by establishing export strategies and by attracting foreign direct investment (FDI). Ethiopia is an interesting case study as their SEZs have attracted important international attention catalysing many investments. Competitive labour costs and the modern technological resources support the zone’s overall competitiveness, such as in the Hawassa Industrial Park (HIP). With the large amount of success they experienced, challenges have arisen. Under the pressure of international norms and national legislation, Ethiopian SEZs struggle to offer decent work opportunities even with the enhanced economic performance and powerful employment creation. They have also encountered difficulties with elevating the industrialisation level to international standards.
This Trade Report provides an overview of SEZs in Ethiopia, particularly the Hawassa IP and the Bole Lemi Industrial Zone (BLIZ). It also examines how workers in SEZs are protected in terms of labour and gender rights in Ethiopia. SEZs in Africa often focus on labour-intensive sectors and are significant employers of female workers, specifically in the textile and garment industry that is promoted in Ethiopia. While the government explicitly states that national labour law applies to SEZs, workers, especially women, have allegedly been the victims of unfair labour conditions. The fourth decent work country programme (DWCPs) for Ethiopia has been published in 2021, highlighting the governmental effort for sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
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