TBO Printing and Publishing S.C installs manroland Goss web offset presses

First textbook printing plant to open soon in Ethiopia

TBO Printing and Publishing S.C installs manroland Goss web offset presses
First textbook printing plant in Ethiopia

TBO Printing and Publishing S.C (TBO) in Addis Ababa celebrated the successful installation of the two manroland Goss Cromoman presses on May 31, 2021. The start-up of the fully installed Rotoman will follow shortly.

The establishment of the first textbook production facility for East Africa is a very ambitious project for the country, wanting to utilize its own resources to meet the high demand for textbooks for a steadily growing number of young people. The Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Abiy Ahmed, is also expected to attend the opening ceremony.

TBO Printing and Publishing S.C was established to bring textbook production to Ethiopia and the Oromia region. Currently, Ethiopian textbooks are imported from abroad. In the future, the state-supported project is intended to meet the high demand for textbooks for the most populated country in East Africa – with around 110 million people. Furthermore, print production on this large scale can create up to 400 jobs, which means prospects and an income for up to 400 families.

Adhesive binders supplement the book production from Mueller Martini Buchbindesysteme GmbH in Rahden (formerly Kolbus) and a CTP printing plate production system from Agfa. Both were sold with the three printing presses from VIP Systems GmbH. manroland Goss is implementing the project together with VIP Systems, its longtime sales partner from Stuttgart, along with the very cooperative local office in Addis Ababa, VIP Systems PLC. The line is supplemented by other presses from the sheetfed offset and postpress sectors installed in the spring.

Flagship project for East Africa with manroland Goss printing technology

The three manroland Goss presses Cromoman (2x), and Rotoman (1x) are the first presses of this type to be installed and commissioned in East Africa. With this equipment, TBO has a great opportunity to become the beacon of textbook production in Africa. Today, there are no comparable printing presses in Ethiopia with such outstanding print quality and high productivity. At least 5 million textbooks in various formats and signatures of 16, 24, or 32 pages could be printed monthly in a three-shift model.

Ethiopia is a country with over 80 ethnic groups. In addition to English and Amharic’s official languages, there are (among others) the main languages Oromifa, Tigrigna, Somali, Sidama, Welayeta, and Hadiyisa, all with corresponding textbooks. The Ethiopian school system covers grades 1 to 12.

In addition to the various languages, it also teaches civics and ethics, information and communication technology, mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, geography, economics, general business, and technical drawing. Therefore, the demand for textbooks for all these subjects is correspondingly high and amounts to around 70 million copies per year. TBO will cover a high percentage of these.

Lack of infrastructure and Corona pandemic complicate commissioning

The challenges in implementing the very ambitious goals of the TBO company were significant from the very beginning: The parallel progress of infrastructure construction – starting with the road network and ending with the completion of the Gerd dam project for a stable energy supply – as well as the worldwide prevailing Corona situation, severely disrupted the project schedule and led to unavoidable installation interruptions.

Thanks to the willingness of the manroland Goss technicians to travel and the highly experienced manroland Goss team management on site, the printing plant in Gelan started production in the spring.

“Under these challenging circumstances, I am all the more pleased that we were able to successfully complete the start-up of the two Cromoman presses. The installation of the Rotoman is also finalized; therefore, the production can start on it shortly, too,” said Dr. Ralf Schädlich, Project Manager at manroland Goss. “The team spirit of our internationally assembled installation team on site is also unbroken so that we are achieving our go-live targets step by step.”

Training of future employees on-site at the Bavarian Africa Office

Since February 2021, the future employees of TBO have been preparing for their new tasks in cooperation with the Bavarian Africa Office in Addis Ababa. Experienced manroland Goss experts pass on their knowledge to the new printers and press operators during technical training courses on-site and via online training courses. In addition, they will guide them during the first textbook productions. Total production on the three presses is planned for this year’s summer, pending structural and political development permits.


The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Indian Printer and Publisher’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

Subscribe Now


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here