EKOS Steel Mill Plc, a Korean firm, called for the establishment of a center of excellence for advanced manufacturing and engineering that will undertake research on technology and investments related to production facilities, including refinery of crude oil. This will help the country save the forex spent to refine crude oil and procure production facilities.

The company, established in 2016 with an investment outlay of almost one billion birr, said it wants to engage in the production of refining technology and synthetic engine oil based on a research that will be conducted by Adama Science and Technology on a proposed center of excellence.

EKOS, which manufactures deformed bars, wire rode and other metal products, has already reached an agreement with Adama Science and Technology to work on the development of the center of excellence, to be built in Adama University, almost 100km away from Addis Ababa.

Using the Economic Development Cooperative Fund (EDCF) projects in Korea as the benchmark, EKOS proposed the establishment of five centers of excellence focusing on transportation and vehicle engineering, electrical systems and electronics, and pharmaceutical science.

“Upon being established, these centers will play a great role in technology transfer,” said Shell H. Choo, Chairman of EKOS steel plc.

The centers will focus on conducting researches on how to extract abundant industrial inputs, including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, boron and ammonia, according to EKOS, which has a plan to partner with Tumsa Endowment to establish a fertilizer plant in the future.

“We have designed the proposal based on our experience and other partners in Korea. If it is going to be implemented properly, Ethiopia will succeed in terms of industrial input development from locally available materials. Our expectation from the university is identifying project proposal ideas for investment,” Shell said.

The government plans to make the two Science and Technology universities in Adama and Addis Ababa a technology hub, having 16 centers of excellence.

“With a 500 million Birr investment, the construction of the research complex is going well, while USD 100 million is required to buy machines. With a loan secured from Korean Exim bank, we are now hiring a consultant to finalize the project,” Lemi Guta (PhD), President of Adama Science and Technology University said.

The signing of the agreement will help us enhance our capacity in identifying industries we should focus on to save hard currency and substitute imports, the President added.