The leader of Ethiopia's clothing and textile sector has claimed eight South Korean companies are set to open textile and garment plants in his country, in a new industrial park close to the capital Addis Ababa.

The factories will be built in the Bole Lemi Industrial Zone, to be constructed at a cost of around ETB1.2bn (US$55m) by the end of 2013.

Ethiopia's industry ministry is developing the park, which will be operated by its Industry Zone and Environmental Protection Agency.

Fassil Tadesse, president of the Ethiopian Textile and Garment Manufacturers Association, said that while the South Korean companies will initially only produce garments in Ethiopia, their long-term plan is to establish fully integrated textile and clothing plants in the park. He would not however release their names to just-style.

"The Ethiopian government has been working hard to attract investment from South Korea," said Tadesse. "Companies from the South Korean textile and garment industry have a very good reputation."

Ethiopia has been attracting a growing number of overseas companies in the sector, particularly from Turkey, India and China.

"Ethiopia offers many benefits for foreign investors," said the association president. "It is one of the world's fastest-growing economies, politically very stable, and a good location, with access to Europe. In addition, there is a lot of cheap labour, and the energy costs are very low, with electricity only 6 US cents per kWh."