Frankfurt-based investor Lutz Hartmann, in collaboration with Siemens Co., has revealed plans to invest further in the Ethiopian market. The plans were first outlined at the “Compact with Africa” conference in October and will include the construction of a 585,750 USD solar power plant with a capacity of 500-kilowatt hours.
Hartmann is already active in the Ethiopian market. In 2014, along with three other Frankfurt investors, he purchased 300 hectares of farmland in the Sodo region and founded Fruitbox Africa. The company now delivers approximately 20 tons of fruit per week to various parts of the country including the capital, Addis Ababa.
Besides the contribution to the economy that Fruitbox makes, it also follows a “social responsibility” model. This manifests in the provision of economic opportunities for women, higher wages than is typical in the industry, and even the setup of a pension fund for employees.
Now, Hartmann’s vision is to extend the benefits of his investment to the immediate community by providing electricity to the areas surrounding his farm. This is where Siemens comes in with the solar power plant; half of the power is to be supplied to the farm and the other half to the region in general.
This development is not only a general economic benefit but one that also increases the productivity of Fruitbox farms. Currently only 60 of the 300-hectare farmland is cultivated and irrigation is a challenge due to the company being limited to using diesel generators for pumps.
With the construction of the solar power plant, these challenges will be overcome along with the creation of jobs for residents of the area at the plant itself. Hartmann’s plans are set up along those lines as well. One of his targets is the formation of a small-scale startup park for things like honey production and papaya or mango processing.