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Ethiopia, Japan Venture Inches Towards Domestic Currency Printing

Heads of the country’s nascent sovereign wealth fund are partnering with the Japanese Toppan Holdings Inc. in a bid to localize the printing of currency and passports.

Sources disclosed the progress of the partnership was a topic during discussions between the management of Ethiopian Investment Holdings (EIH), central bank regulators (including Governor Mamo Mihretu) and Dominique de Villepin, former French Prime Minister.

The role of De Villepin in Ethiopian officials’ quest for domestic security printing, is not confirmed. The venture’s success would mean the Ethiopian government would no longer depend on European firms such as the German Giesecke+Devrient or the English De La Rue for currency printing.

During the meeting at NBE’s headquarter, Meleket Sahlu, deputy CEO of Investment Holdings, told the participants the partnership agreement with security printing giant Toppan is on track.

The partnership is divided into three phases: the first involves the printing of e-passports, followed by currency printing in the second. The ambitious third phase encompasses the printing of various tradable securities, intended to bolster the stock market officials plan to introduce in the near future.

Executives of Toppan have recently reached a joint venture agreement with their counterparts at the state-owned Berhanena Selam Printing Enterprise and the Educational Materials Production and Distribution Enterprise.

The three comprise Toppan Gravity Ethiopia (TGE), which will hold a 51 percent stake in the security printing endeavor. Three other Ethiopian institutions will hold the remaining shares.

Berhanena Selam is one of 26 state-owned enterprises under the Investment Holdings.

TGE will reportedly shell out a USD 15 million investment as part of the deal, providing capital for the printing of passports, currency, ATM cards, cheques, National ID cards, and tradable securities.

The Ethiopian Immigration and Citizenship Service has signed a separate agreement with Toppan and EIH for the production of e-passports. Inked on December 14, 2023, the deal will see the establishment of a passport printing facility in Bole Lemi Industrial Park, on the outskirts of the capital.

Officials hope to see the partnership introduce advanced security features to the Ethiopian passport system, which has come under much strain and scrutiny in recent years.

Tokyo-headquartered Toppan Holdings Inc. reported revenues of close to USD 12.5 billion in 2022.

Source: The Reporter