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Toppan Gravity Ethiopia (TGE), a joint venture formed between the Ethiopian government and Japanese conglomerate Toppan Gravity, has kicked off the construction of a security printing facility in Bole Lemi Industrial Park.

The $55 million project, expected to conclude in one year, will create a plant capable of producing 5.6 million biometric passports, 28 million banking cards, and physical prints of digital ID cards annually.

According to Kalkidan Arega, CEO of Toppan Gravity Ethiopia, the investment was born as a result of Ethiopian Investment Holdings identifying a gap and an opportunity that existed within the security printing sector.

Discussions with Toppan Gravity, a subsidiary of Toppan Holdings, a Japanese multi-billion-dollar global printing conglomerate, began last year.

Now establishing their first footprint in Africa, their project with the Ethiopian government also looks at the continental market.

Toppan holds a majority stake (51%) in the joint venture, while the remaining shares are owned by Ethiopian partners (Ethiopian Investment Holding, Berhanena Selam Printing Enterprise, and Educational Materials Production and Distribution Enterprise).

Toppan’s expertise will be leveraged to manufacture high-quality passports, ID cards, and banking cards with embedded microchips.

The factory is specifically designed for this purpose and will be equipped with advanced air conditioning, dust management systems, and dedicated clean rooms to ensure critical processes meet Toppan’s product quality standards.

In December 2023, Ethiopian Immigration and Citizenship Services (ICS) entered into an agreement with Toppan Gravity Ethiopia (TGE) for the supply and services of a newly designed Ethiopian e-passport.

An E-passport, also known as an electronic or biometric passport, is a passport with an embedded electronic microprocessor chip that contains biometric data.

“[The factory] not only addresses current passport issuance backlogs but also positions Ethiopia for potential future exports.” Said Kalkidan.

TGE has already partnered with the Ministry of Education to produce grade 9–12 textbooks for Ethiopian students.

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Etenat holds a degree in Journalism and her master's in Public Relations. Previously, she served as a university lecturer and has five years of experience in communications, media, digital marketing, and consulting.