ETHIOPIA – Pizza Hut is set to open three outlets in Ethiopia in 2017, becoming one of the first international restaurant chains to enter Africa’s second-most populous country.

The shops are scheduled to begin serving in the capital, Addis Ababa, by November, franchisee Aschalew Belay said in an interview on Monday.

Aschalew’s company, Belayab Foods and Franchise, would run the local outlets of the Yum! Brands pizzeria and would have invested $5.5m in the operations by 2018, said his partner, Michael Ghebru.

Ethiopia was an attractive destination because of its cheap labour and electricity, said Michael, who will run the franchise and initially hold a 15% stake.

There were “no major” food franchises in Addis Ababa, making competition “nonexistent”, he said.

Ethiopian openings were part of a wider expansion under which Pizza Hut planned to boost its number of sub-Saharan Africa stores to 100 by the end of the year from about 70, said the company’s incoming general manager for Africa, Ewan Davenport.

About half of Pizza Hut’s business on the continent is in SA, where it opened in 2015, with outlets in Angola and at Camp Lemonnier, a US military base in Djibouti, the top performers elsewhere, he said in an interview, without giving figures.

Ghana, which has three Pizza Huts, was “absolutely firing”, with the partner looking to expand to neighbouring countries such as Togo, Davenport said.

Ethiopia’s economy is forecast to grow 7.5% in 2017, the second-fastest pace in sub-Saharan Africa after Ivory Coast, according to the International Monetary Fund.

May 1, 2017: Bloomberg