With an annual growth rate of 20 – 25Pct since 2004, Ethiopian Airlines (ET) is the fastest growing airline in Africa. In its seven-decade history, it has earned a name for itself as a leading carrier, unrivalled in efficiency and operational success among its continental competitors. This success was made possible while so many of its African peers have vanished and the few existing ones are on the verge of perishing.
Several factors have contributed to ET’s success. Its CEO, Tewelde Gebremariam, who has worked for the company for more than 30 years, says the key has been good corporate governance and leadership. In connection with the company’s 70th anniversary, EBR’s Amanyehun Sisay, spoke with the detail-oriented CEO to learn more about the growth trajectories of Africa’s largest airline and what’s in store for ET.


Tax compliance in Ethiopia has a long way to develop. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the amount of dodged taxes in the 2009/10 fiscal year amounted to ETB19 billion, which accounted for 5Pct of gross domestic product (GDP) that year. This money would have covered more than 20Pct of the amount the nation spends on the construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam. In order to reduce this, the government enacted a plan to improve tax evasion, particularly when it arises from contraband and illicit business activities. But all these years later, has the plan proved fruitful? EBR’s Ashenafi Endale explored the issue to learn the details of what’s worked and what hasn’t.


For developing countries, foreign currency is a necessary component to the success of manufacturing, overall industrialisation and greater inclusion into the global economy. Specifically, manufacturers, the purported backbone of what the Ethiopian government hopes to be a robust industrial sector, need foreign currency to import materials that are central to their enterprises. However, the country is facing a severe shortage of these funds, a dynamic that isn’t likely to change soon. To put the demand in perspective, the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia approved USD3 billion in foreign currency requests in two months, whereas the Bank earned that amount in the first six months of the current fiscal year. Furthermore, the government has meagre foreign currency reserves. So what’s being done to mitigate the situation? EBR’s Ashenafi Endale spoke with key insiders to learn more about the implications of the shortage and its potential solutions.


Local demand for furniture is increasing rapidly. According to the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority, 584,538 units of furniture were imported in 2011; that figure grew to 20,415,495 in 2015. This growth, however, is largely benefiting foreign companies – not local furniture producers. The latter identify a number of bottlenecks in accessing the market to meet this increased demand. EBR’s Bantayehu Demlie spoke with foreign companies, local producers and government officials to learn more about these bottlenecks and what can be done to overcome them to improve domestic firms’ performance and profitability.


Political volatility can impact economic performance like any other risk often associated with business operations, especially in developing countries. This has been the case for Ethiopia, where the protests in the State of Oromia have affected businesses – resulting in the government having to compensate investors upwards of ETB100 million. In order to mitigate potential risks and create a better environment for investors, Ethiopia has its eyes set on joining the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI). EBR’s Bantayehu Demlie spoke with individuals close to the issue to learn the intricacies of the decision to join the ATI.


Overseas adoption is the process whereby someone of a particular nationality adopts a child from a different country. For years, Ethiopia has been one of the most popular places whence children are adopted. According to the African Child Forum, it ranked third globally in terms of overseas adoption from 2003-2011. This is due, in part, to relatively lax regulations that govern the adoption process, which some argue may subject children to potential dangers abroad, especially if they aren’t actually orphans. However, as EBR’s adjunct staff writer Meseret Mamo reports, government is working to better regulate the process and find domestic alternatives to overseas adoption.


Ethiopian sport officials are looking to improve the country’s performance in continental and international competitions. One way to do this is nurture the next generation of talent that can rise to the standard of world-class athletic excellence. To that end, the government has invested money in developing youth training centres. The Tirunesh Dibaba Sport Centre in the State of Oromia is one such place. EBR’s adjunct staff writer Abiy Wendifraw visited the Centre and spoke to sports insiders to learn about the potential and challenges in developing future athletic talent.

Since the early days of modern trade there has been anxiety about the future of local businesses. It’s safe to assume that many Ethiopian companies haven’t experienced such a state of flux and uncertainty. Yet, as the economy positions itself to further integrate with the global economy and open its doors to more foreign investors, we must question the sustainability of continuing with the entrenched ‘business as usual’ approach as a long-term option.

The number of African entrepreneurs and those of African descent is growing significantly around the world. That is wonderful news, because frankly, I think nothing will be more empowering to Africans psychologically, economically, and politically in the long-run. Entrepreneurship is not a job, it’s a way of life that can potentially put you in control, enable you to expand your potential, increase your influence, and ultimately allow more freedom.
But there is more to it: one can actually make a significant impact in this world. And when you focus on Africa, you will contribute towards the future of a continent that has struggled to shine for far too long.

Africa’s drive for fast growth has garnered a great deal of attention over the last decade. This means taking lessons from the economic policy-making process of fast-growing East Asian countries like Taiwan and South Korea is important. Both nations confronted similar problems in their drive for fast growth and poverty reduction, without which the registered success in those countries would have been unthinkable.

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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