Fertilizer: Ethiopia ready for joint venture to complete Yayu complex

Tired of the limited progress of the Yayu fertilizer plant project, entrusted to the military-industrial public conglomerate Metals & Engineering Corporation (Metec), the Ethiopian government has decided to open an international tender to establish a joint venture to complete this industrial complex.

The country’s authorities have confirmed that they have received several proposals from European and Asian companies, which have not yet been identified. An announcement that suggests that the Cherifian Phosphate Office (OCP) - the Moroccan fertilizer giant - would be out of the game when it had previously been presented as a possible contender. Beyene Gebremeskel, the Minister in charge of Public Enterprises, for her part, made it clear that this call for tenders was « a partnership and not a sale », the State seeking first and foremost financial and technical support to carry out this project. In addition to the fertilizer plant, the complex, located in the Oromia region, is expected to include a coal mine and a 90 megawatt power plant.

In red, the Oromia region (Ethiopia) Credit: TUBS

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Initially assigned in 2012 to Metec, a public group affiliated with the Ethiopian army and now suspected of mismanagement of public funds, the Yayu project has suffered multiple delays: according to the Ministry of Public Enterprises, less than half of the planned works have been completed. Quoted by the Bloomberg agency, however, Metec’s General Manager Ahmed Hamza defended himself by recalling that the construction work on the complex had been subcontracted to other companies. « The basic plans of the complex do not meet the required standards and the fertilizer plant is not operational. The power plant built by the Chinese company Ruuh Power Corp does not receive any coal, » the manager deplored. A situation that should not bring Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who is rather suspicious of this company controlled by the army, back to better feelings. Committed since coming to power in 2018 to carry out the necessary economic reforms, he has already withdrawn the management of several projects from Metec.