Reports allege US businessmen scheming to exploit Ethiopia’s oil plans

According to reports from Quartz Africa an Ethiopian-American investor Nebiyu Getachew and his business partners are in the process of pulling off a multibillion-dollar scheme to exploit oil plans currently being designed in Ethiopia.

Nebiyu is the CEO of GreenComm Technologies, an energy firm based in Virginia (USA). The firm recently signed a 3.6 billion USD deal with the Ethiopian Ministry of Mines and Petroleum to construct an oil refinery in the Somalia region.

Some are now looking askance at the deal, however, based on evidence reported by Quartz Africa, that GreenComm Tech does not have the expertise to take on the Ethiopian project. Furthermore, the journalists at the publication have asserted that there are clear red-flags about both GreenComm Tech and Nebiyu that indicate something off about the entire transaction.

Quartz reports that GreenComm Tech has previously been delisted from the Virginia corporate database twice for likely failure to pay registration fees. The publication also reports that a government whistleblower has come forward with documentation of irregularities with the agreement between the Ethiopian government and GreenComm Tech.

Ethiopia’s hydrocarbon resources are estimated at close to 8 trillion cubic liters in crude oil reserves. Given historic conflicts in the Somali region, which contains the vast proportion of resources, and current malpractice and corruption issues, experts fear that a flimsy agreement might lead to extreme financial losses.

Ethiopian Mineral, Petroleum, and Biofuel Corporation (EMPB) administrator Mulugeta Damtew confirms that he is aware of GreenComm Tech’s limitations as “experts” in the energy industry. According to him, GreenComm Tech “made it clear that they wouldn’t handle the project themselves”. Instead, he claims that the company was planning on buying the required technology from a third party.

GreenComm Tech claims the same thing, according to reports by Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC). On April 28th FBC reported that Hyundai Engineering and Contruction had finalized an agreement with GreenComm Tech.

GreenComm Tech had subsequently claimed that the Ethiopian project would be jointly overseen by the two companies but Quartz Africa claims that an email exchange with Hyundai officials reveals that the Korean company has no involvement in the project. The email also indicated that the agreement reported by FBC was not implemented due to GreenComm Tech failing to provide due diligence documents and legal and financial status verification.

Similar inconsistencies were also found in Nebiyu’s bio. While GreenComm Tech’s website describes him as a “senior level executive and advisor to Fortune 500 companies”, his only relation to a Fortune 500 company is through a Toyota dealership in the DMV (USA) area.

In 2018, when GreenComm Tech acquired the rights for the project, they had been reported as making the proposal with Innovative Clear Choice Technologies (ICCT). At the time of the agreement ICCT did not have an office and by September of the same year, had merged with GreenComm Tech under Nebiyu.

Despite these inconsistencies, however, Andargie Bekele, EMPB’s Petroleum Exploration Director, affirmed that his office had vetted the two companies and that there were no issues that would justify the halt of plans to go forward with the project.

These are only some of the vast array of evidence that journalists were able to gather regarding the agreement between GreenComm Tech and the Ethiopian government. While the allegations have not been corroborated by a third independent party, officials at EMPB maintain that there are still gains to be made by Ethiopia through the agreement.

Quartz Africa, The Taiwan Times

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