Time for Re-orientation

On September 16, 2015, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released the world interim economic outlook – and after reading the report, there are many things of which to be concerned.
The slow progress of recovery in advanced countries and the economic slowdown in emerging economies, notably Brazil and China, are two main factors cited for sub-par global growth during the rest of 2015 and 2016.


Culture Centre Pays Homage to Alganesh Tariku

If you are familiar with the recent history of Ethiopia’s artistic community, then you have probably heard of the actress and dancer Alganesh Tariku. The renowned artist is regarded for her time as a dancer and stage performer at Ethiopia’s National Theatre and can now be seen on the TV show Wazema. Her decades-long career was recently honoured at the Ethiopian Cultural Centre. The Centre is one among a few institutions that are actively working to preserve the history of Ethiopia’s rich artistic tradition through commemorating prolific individuals. EBR’s Meseret Mamo attended the ceremony and sheds more light on the work being done to give credit to the country’s most respected artists.


What needs to be done in order to create greater financial inclusion and literacy in a developing country like Ethiopia? That’s the question on the minds of many government officials who are looking to encourage greater financial knowledge among the country’s populace. Finance experts are looking to mobile technology to create greater financial awareness. Large banks and companies like M-BIRR, which provide mobile financial services, are emerging in Ethiopia and have ambitious plans to have millions subscribe to their services in a few years. These goals, however, are lofty, considering that Ethiopia has one of the lowest mobile penetration rates in sub-Saharan Africa. So what has to be done? EBR’s Samson Hailu spoke with stakeholders dealing with this issue in order to shed light on its complexity and potential solutions.


Food fortification – the process of adding additional nutrients to certain food products to increase their health benefit – has been common in developed countries for decades. This practice, however, is relatively new to Ethiopia – and the government is taking measures to ensure that their food fortification programme succeeds. The country hopes to fortify key food items like flour, milk and edible oils. Advocates of fortification say that it has great potential for combatting malnutrition– a condition that affects nearly 3 million people throughout the country. Others, however, note that Ethiopia has a long way to go in terms of developing the necessary infrastructure to manage the lofty goals it has set for itself. EBR’s Fasika Tadesse spoke with industry insiders to learn more about the nuances of food fortification and the government’s plans to help bring its vision to fruition.


Tourism in Ethiopia is on the rise. Last fiscal year alone, nearly one million tourists visited the country – and the government plans to have that figure increase to 2.5 million by 2020. This growth, however, may not necessarily prove beneficial for Ethiopia’s hotel industry, as an increasing number of tourists prefer to stay in guest houses as opposed to hotels. According to one study, Ethiopia’s hotels average a 60Pct occupancy rate, despite the growth in the number of tourists each year. Many travellers note that their preference for guest houses is rooted in the fact that they offer a cheaper, more intimate alternative to star-rated hotels. Hoteliers in the country charge that these businesses need to be better regulated and managed. Consultants, however, say hotels need to reduce their costs if they don’t want to continually lose customers. EBR’s Fasika Tadesse spoke with tourists, government officials, hoteliers and guest house owners to learn more about the nuances of the debate.


With the Finalisation of Soil Fertility Mapping, Ethiopia Anticipates Increased Agricultural Productivity

For years, policy makers have been keen to improve the performance of Ethiopia’s agricultural sector in an attempt to help feed the country’s population and create surpluses that can be used as raw materials for industries. Now, leaders are looking to fertilisers to help the shortfalls facing the sector. In particular, they are creating a comprehensive map of different soil types throughout the country in an effort to identify the essential nutrients that are lacking. This information will then be used to create an atlas that can help in improving the performance of soil and thus create better crop yields. Experts say this is a step in the right direction to help Ethiopia move forward. Others, however, argue that more needs to be done in order to deal with the larger structural problems that plague farmers in the country, so that the sector can realise its full potential. EBR’s Ashenafi Endale spoke with government representatives and agricultural experts about the nuances of this issue.


Ethiopia’s film industry is quickly growing: last fiscal year the industry produced 107 films. This statistic, along with the upwardly mobile Ethiopians that are increasingly looking for leisure activities, demonstrates that there’s a great deal of growth potential for Ethiopia’s film industry. This growth is contributing to another phenomenon: the rapid construction of cinema houses. Just three years ago, there were only 11 cinemas in Addis Ababa; now, that figure is 28. Industry insiders say that these establishments are great because they provide spaces for filmmakers to showcase their works. Others, however, point to the poor quality of these facilities and are calling on the government to take more strict action in regulating them. EBR’s Meseret Mamo spoke with cinema owners, filmmakers and government representatives to learn more about the issue and offers this report.


Ethiopia has been lauded for its Productive Safety Net Programme, which was established to help alleviate economic hardships faced by families in rural areas. A new programme, the Urban Safety Net Programme, has a similar goal: to mitigate the effects of poverty in urban areas. The underlying logic of the strategy is that poverty in urban areas needs to be eradicated in order to ensure that citizens contribute more to the local economy. The measure is part of a larger effort in Ethiopia to help cities achieve their full potential – a lesson that is key for a developing country looking to move from an agrarian to a manufacturing- and service- based economy. EBR’s Ashenafi Endale takes a closer look at the government’s efforts and offers this report.


Moving the Fuga from the Margins to the Centre

Ethiopia is home to a diverse array of ethnic groups – many of which co-exist in a relatively peaceful manner. Nevertheless, some groups – the Fuga people in Ethiopia’s Southern Region for example– say that they still exist on the margins of society and sometimes even confront violence because of their peripheral status. Recent efforts, however, have strived to alleviate some of the economic and societal hardships confronting the community. Some of these efforts involve foreign governments, like the United States and Finland.
EBR’s Meseret Mamo spoke with stakeholders to see what progress, if any, is being made to achieve this end.


If you’ve ever been to a football match in Ethiopia, you’ve probably witnessed one particular beer being sold or featured prominently in the stadium. This is because certain teams enter sponsorship deals with beer companies. The deals typically entail the team receiving money from the beer company in exchange for exclusive affiliation with the club, often involving the sale of beer at matches, among other things. Some officials from the Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF) say sponsorship deals help to mitigate the steep costs of managing various clubs and their development. Others, however, are critical that these deals may engender conflicts of interest, which could ultimately prove detrimental for different clubs vying for sponsorship deals with competing companies. EBR’s Ashenafi Endale spoke with EFF officials and beer company representatives to explore the issue further.

Ethiopian Business Review | EBR is a first-class and high-quality monthly business magazine offering enlightenment to readers and a platform for partners.

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