Ethiopia is the birthplace of Mohammed. His investments in Ethiopia initially concentrated on gold mining but he rapidly diversified first into the industrial and services sector and then into investments that supported the Growth and Transformation Plan for national development. He is now the largest foreign investor in Ethiopia and has interests in agriculture and livestock, gold mining, construction, cement, property, steel, construction, pharmaceuticals, air transport, catering and manufacturing and also owns the five-star Sheraton Addis, all of which are run by dedicated senior managers equally committed to the four core principles.
Agriculture makes up around 46% of Ethiopia’s GDP and 80% of its employment. The Sheikh, through his investments, has played an essential role in creating agribusinesses, sustaining employment, increasing export capacity and, more recently, improving food security. For example, Horizon Plantations and Agriceft manage over 56,000 hectares of developed land in the Oromia, SNNPR and Amhara regions of Ethiopia with over 48,000 permanent and seasonal employees, providing housing and social services for a population of 180,000. These companies produce and export coffee, flowers, cereals, tea fruits and vegetables.
Another example is Saudi Star which is undertaking a challenging project to increase food production in the southern province of Gambella. It has initiated a major first phase project of 15,000 hectares which is planned eventually to cultivate an area up to 500,000 hectares in several further phases with significant investments being made in the cultivation of a variety of agricultural products. While contributing to exports which can provide valuable foreign exchange, the project is expected to provide major benefits to Ethiopia in terms of foreign investment, job opportunities and food security. Around half of the increased production is expected to remain in Ethiopia for local consumption.
Most of the profits from all these enterprises, many of which are identified, although separately managed, under the MIDROC brand, are ploughed back into the country. Major associated investments in education and skills training have taken place. In recognition of his role in the economic development of Ethiopia, Mohammed received an Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy from Addis Ababa University.