East Africa is known for its abundant bamboo resources. Ethiopia, in particular, is regarded as a country with an advanced bamboo sector in the region, considering the current level of investment in manufacturing industries and policy focus on bamboo development. The approval of the National Bamboo Strategy and Action Plan by the government presents a favorable environment for individuals and companies to pursue technological advancement in bamboo value chain development to create a competitive market for bamboo products within the country and abroad.
The International Bamboo and Rattan Organization (INBAR) recently organized a Bamboo Study Tour and Policy Dialogue in Ethiopia for East African investors, policymakers, manufacturers, civil society leaders, and private sector entrepreneurs, from Kenya and Uganda. The study tour, held from Sept 04 – 06, 2022, was designed to provide an opportunity for participants to learn from Ethiopia’s experience and best practices in sustainable bamboo product design and development.The tour created an opportunity for participants to be able to meet key actors of the Ethiopian bamboo sector from private enterprises, government agencies, and the public sector. It was packed with a variety of field visits, with highlights including visits to bamboo nursery development sites, furniture and handcraft cottage industries, factories, demonstration plots, and a bamboo planting ceremony. It created a platform for deliberations and extensive exchanges on value addition to bamboo products as well as making strategic decisions for the industrialization of the bamboo sector.
In his keynote speech, Kebede Yimam, the Director General of Ethiopian Forest Development, stated that the study tour provides a unique opportunity for participants to learn about Ethiopia’s sustainable bamboo management experience, innovations, and best practices in bamboo product development.
Amb. Robert Shetkintong, Indian ambassador to Ethiopia noted that South-South development cooperation among countries of the global South is essential for innovative forms of knowledge exchange and technology transfer using local and affordable development solutions. As such, the study tour among the participant countries is highly imperative to help enhance the bamboo sector development of the countries and transform the industry in the region.
The participants were brought to SMEs and factories where they visited the development process of different bamboo products. Adal Industrial Plc, one of the factories the delegates paid a visit to, produces high-quality bamboo products for the local and international markets. Adal is a pioneer industry to produce bamboo products and introduce its technologies to Ethiopia. Currently, the company has 180 employees and its products range from bamboo charcoal and toothpicks to bamboo flooring, pulp, and paper.
INBAR is an intergovernmental development organization that promotes sustainable development using bamboo and rattan. In addition to its Secretariat headquarters in China, INBAR has Regional Offices in Cameroon, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Ghana, and India. The East Africa Regional Office (EARO), based in Ethiopia, coordinates bamboo development initiatives in Burundi, Eritrea, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Bamboo, the fast-growing grass plant, is an important nature-based solution to several pressing global challenges, for poverty alleviation, green trade, climate change mitigation and adaptation, resilient construction, and environmental protection. INBAR’s mission is to improve the well-being of producers and users of bamboo within the context of a sustainable bamboo resource base, by consolidating, coordinating, and supporting strategic and adaptive research and development.
INBAR – EARO is currently implementing a triangular South-South development project dubbed Dutch-Sino Phase-II East Africa Bamboo Development Programme in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.
The study tour was adjourned by a city tour in and around Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, and a closing dinner. Study tours like this are not only about knowledge sharing, exposure, and learning, but they can also pose an opportunity for business-to-business linkage and match-making among potential investors, entrepreneurs and industries in the bamboo sector development. As noted by Ndufa James Kamiri, the head of bamboo projects at Kenya Forestry Research Institute, the study tour was an excellent opportunity for deeper interactions, and exploration of investment opportunities by forging prospective partnerships with diverse actors, including manufacturers, bamboo house designers, and bamboo exporting companies.
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