Argentinian President Mauricio Macri’s government has asked the International Monetary Fund for a loan that it hopes can stem a peso rout that has driven up interest rates, will slow the economy, and threatens the reform program. This reversal of fortune for the economy partly, though far from fully, reflects broader pressure created by the US dollar’s recent appreciation – a process that is set to accelerate, because both monetary-policy and growth differentials are now favoring the United States.

Debt stress has always been a contentious matter in Ethiopia. As the country pursues billions of dollars worth of infrastructural development projects, external debt stock has been growing proportionally, now accounting for almost 30Pct of the GDP. While the risk to debt sustainability escalates, several challenges limit the prospects for bucking this trend. This includes the wide gap between investment and savings, and the underperformance of the export sector. With such factors in mind, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), changed the debt stress rating of Ethiopia from moderate to high recently, hinting that the chance of defaulting on loans is increasing. Although the government is able to take corrective measures such as refraining from taking commercial loans, experts say that is too late. EBR’s Samson Berhane spoke to government officials, macroeconomists and financial analysts to probe into the matter.


Ethiopia has lost many ancient cultural heritages and treasures to plundering and looting, and it is common to find ancient Ethiopian artefacts in various western museums. Although there have been initiatives to facilitate the return of these stolen heritages in the past, the outcomes have not been pleasing.
Recently, Tristram Hunt, Director of the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum said the quickest way for Ethiopia to get back its artefacts from the V&A would be through a long term loan, referring to items stolen from Mekdela by British forces in 1868. The displayed treasures include a gold crown, a gold chalice and a royal wedding costume, among others. Ethiopia launched a formal restitution claim to have the treasures returned in 2007.
Government officials and scholars have voiced their apprehension, echoing that the return of historical treasures should not be up for discussion. Yonas Desta, Director General of Ethiopian Heritage Authority has been one of the most outspoken figures in the negotiations emphasizing that any treasure is only meaningful to the owner, not to the looter.
Yonas has been actively participating in heritage conservation and management since 2010, when, during his time as a director at the then-Ministry of Trade and Industry, he conducted a study about heritage management in Ethiopia. Former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, offered him a chance to lead the then-Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (ARCCH). EBR’s Samson Berhane sat down with him to discuss his firm position towards the country’s lost treasures, heritage management and their contribution to the economy.


The struggle of medium enterprises to graduate to the next level

With a plan of spurring economic growth, and creating huge employment opportunities, it has been almost 12 years since the government adopted a strategy to develop medium, small and micro enterprises. Close to a million such enterprises have been formed since then. Nonetheless, their efficacy has not always been in line with the plan outlined in the strategy, due to multifaceted barriers. This holds true especially for medium enterprises that graduated before 2015/16, because of a lack of relevant policy and institutional structures. EBR’s Ashenafi Endale, reports.


The agriculture sector in Ethiopia is dominated by small holder farms that depend on rain. However, low and erratic rainfall has resulted in limited agricultural productivity and food security. To reverse this state of affairs, the government adopted the development of irrigation farms as a key strategy. But not much change has been observed in expanding irrigation. As of now, only 2.6 million hectares of land have been irrigated so far, out of 15 million hectares cultivated by small scale farmers. The use of irrigation in medium and large scale farming is also insignificant. EBR’s Ashenafi Endale spoke to commercial and small scale farmers as well as government officials, to shed light on the issue


The National Archives Strive to Safeguard Treasures, Make History Approachable

Much has been made of the looting of treasures from African countries. Recently, the argument over the ownership of relics taken from Meqdela during the reign of Emperor Tewodros II has sparked renewed interest about the raiding of national treasures in Ethiopia. One of the major institutions responsible for the safeguarding of Ethiopia’s possessions is the National Archive and Library Agency. The Archive is currently undergoing changes, including the construction of a new 13 floor building to better organise its collection. EBR’s Menna Asrat went behind the scenes to see a side of the Archive few visitors get to see.

Over the past two decades, Djibouti has taken steps to open up to foreign investment, and become a regional trans-shipment hub. Its strategic location near the Bab el-Mandeb strait – through which one third of seaborne global trade passes on its way to the Suez Canal – and decades of peace and political stability compared to its immediate neighbors has played in Djibouti’s favor among international investors.

Critical Policy Attentions

Recently, the Ethiopian Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed terminated high-profile corruption charges brought against Melaku Fenta and Gebrewahid Gebregziabher, former Director General and former Deputy Director General of the Law Enforcement Division at the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority (ERCA) respectively. Prominent businessmen, such as Nega Gebreegziabher, owner of Netsa Trading PLC; Ketema Kebede, owner of KK PLC; and Fikru Maru (MD), founder and CEO of Addis Cardiac Hospital; and Simachew Kebede, major shareholder of DH Simex Plc which owns Intercontinental Addis Hotel were also charged with corruption-related offenses.

The formation of the Ethiopian state is owed to countless historical and political trajectories. The established narrative, though, is that modern Ethiopian state was formed during the reign of Emperor Menelik II. This is because the modern Ethiopian state was expanded through conquest during his era, especially to the Southern and South Western parts of Ethiopia.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Economic and Political Challenges

In my commentary published in EBR issue 55 entitled “Stand Still and Movement” I expressed my grave concerns about the future of our nation. The coming to power of the new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed is a relief for such concerns, at least for now. Abiy is the right pick in all senses of the word to be at the helm of power (as that happens to be the criteria at this juncture in our history). However, for all the peace that he has brought about to be sustainable, it is imperative to understand the major political and economic challenges that he in general, and we as citizens in particular, will be confronting. I will begin to highlight the top five economic challenges first and conclude by briefly noting two major political challenges that are preconditions for addressing the economic challenges.

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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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