The Reality of Measuring Poverty in Ethiopia

Poverty can be described as living with an income level below some minimum level necessary to meet basic needs. This minimum level is usually referred to as the “poverty line”. However, what is necessary to satisfy basic needs varies across time and societies; therefore, poverty lines vary depending on time and place, and different counties use different values for their poverty line which are appropriate to their own level of development, societal norms, and needs. According to the World Bank, the content of needs is more or less the same everywhere.


In Ethiopia, coffee is a means of  economic gains for close to 30Pct of the population. Despite being among the top coffee producing countries in the world, Ethiopia lags behind in export earnings. In fact, export revenue from coffee only increased by 22.7Pct to USD882 million from USD719 million seven years ago. Part of the problem is the decline of price observed in the international market especially since 2011, which had adverse effect on the country’s earning. To reverse the situation, the Ethiopia government has been focusing on boosting the volume of export of raw green coffee in the past, which has low value globally compared with roasted coffee. However, there have been interventions in legislations and institutional setups that facilitate the environment for local value adding accompanies in the sector. EBR’s Mikiyas Tesfaye explores Ethiopia’s expedition towards exporting roasted coffee that has more than twofold value compared with the traditional raw green coffee in the international market.


The buildings sub sector in Ethiopia is booming because of increased private and public investment on projects such as private housing and commercial edifices. The growth of the buildings sub sector has caused skyrocketing demand for construction materials especially on finishing materials such as wood, ceramics, paper, glass, plastic and metals as well as finishing mortars and concretes. Despite the surge in demand, the country is unable to produce enough materials locally to satisfy the demand leaving house developers and contractors with imported items and escalated prices. EBR’s Ashenafi Endale explores the extent of the problem and some of the attempts taking place in the country to substitute imported finishing materials locally.


As the Ethiopian economy began to significantly expand in the last fifteen years, the demand for paper and paper products has also witnessed huge growth. In 2016/17 the demand for paper was 219,840 tons. However, the country managed to satisfy only 18Pct of the demand. The balance has always been matched by imports.

There are six companies currently engaged in the production of rolls of paper sheets from pulp and recycled paper. Although a small number of companies operate in the paper conversion sector, there is no paper mill company in the country. As a result, the country spends millions of scarce hard currency to import paper products. EBR’s Ashenafi Endale explores the issue to offer this report.

Despite the collapse of global commodity price and political instability that have slowed growth in North Africa, most African countries are still moving forward. In fact, Africa was among the world’s fastest growing continent with more than 5Pct average annual rate of growth over the past decade. In 2016, Africa has also become the second most attractive investment destination in the world, standing next to North America, according to the World Bank.


It is now already four years since the Ethiopian Youth Sports Academy opened its doors to train young talents and bring an elevated performance amongst Ethiopian athletes and other sports persons. At the beginning of the current fiscal year, 148 young athletes graduated from the Academy in ten disciplines after four years of training. Overall, close to 500 individuals received trainings since May 2013. However, the achievements of the academy are full of contrasts. While some trainees secure contracts even before completing their training others are becoming just Certificate of Competence holders. EBR’s Adjunct writer Abiy Wondifraw explores the issue to report this.


Rajeev Kumar Sharma is the general manager of Anmol Products Ethiopia, an Indian based company engaged in paper converting business in Ethiopia since 2009. The company was established with ETB 76 Million. The Indian investor also serves as deputy chairman of Indian Business Forum, an institution established in Ethiopia to represent Indian investors in different platforms. EBR sat down with Sharma, who was also part of the Ethiopian business delegate that went to India last year, to learn more about the trade and investment relationship between the two countries, the existing challenges and what both countries are doing to uplift the level of partnership.


Known as one of the pioneer female painters in Ethiopia, Desta Hagos has been an inspiration to many young women with the desire to pursue their dream of becoming artists. She fell in love with painting and drawing at a very young age. At the age of 18 she became the first female visual arts student to graduate from the then Addis Ababa School of Fine Arts and Design. Taught and mentored under the famous Gebre-Kristos Desta, she has over the years earned a name as one of the most distinguished painters in Ethiopian history. She has more than 50 solo and group exhibitions and numerous honors and recognitions. EBR’s Hiwot Selalew talked to Desta about her life and career.


Ram Nath Kovind, the 14th and serving President of India, in office since 25 July 2017, made his debut official trip abroad recently with a first leg landing in Djibouti. Kovind’s visit to the horn of Africa’s tiny state, which in recent years is attracting significance due to the strategic geopolitical changes in the region, surprised many since there has never been a previous visit to the country by an Indian Head of State. His visit to Ethiopia, however, was less controversial because India at present is one of the top three sources of foreign direct investment in Ethiopia. Not only that, Ethiopia is also a significant bilateral trading partner of Asia’s third biggest economy. EBR’s Samson Hailu explores the reason behind the President’s visit.


Despite its huge potential, little attention has been given for the coffee sub sector in Ethiopia, in which close to 30Pct of the population are engaged directly and indirectly. But in recent years, government started to step up in order to boost coffee production and export as well as promoting value added coffee. One of the steps is re-establishing the Ethiopian Coffee & Tea Development and Marketing Authority last year. The Authority, which is accountable to Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, is expected to enhance the sector’s development as well as making Ethiopian coffee and tea products competent in the global market. EBR’s Mikiyas Tesfaye spoke to Sani Redi, Director General of the Authority, about the changes that are coming to the coffee sub sector.

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


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