Is it Coming to an End?

It has repeatedly been demonstrated that major international events have the ability to shift paradigms. The post-cold war period identified by the emergence of the United States as the sole super power with other regional hegemons roaming their localities pushed neoliberal policies to the forefront of intra and inter-state relations. With considerable external pressure to adhere to these neoliberal approaches along with the theory’s revamped academic acceptance worldwide, states jumped on board. Accordingly, opening up markets and export promotion became widely accepted approaches. The Coronavirus pandemic has, however, shown that the hectic international trade practices centered on import and export in a highly globalized world have left states, both developed and underdeveloped, a long way from self-sufficiency. EBR’s Ashenafi Endale looks into the impending rise of import substitution in a post-COVID-19 Ethiopia.


Tsegaye Kemtsti joined the insurance industry almost half a century ago. After joining the sector at his first employer, The Imperial Insurance, he spent five decades to culminate his career as Chief Executive Office of Awash Insurance, which he founded and led for a quarter of a century, until his departure earlier this year. Although he did not push his formal education further than the College Diploma he received from Addis Ababa Commercial College during the Imperial regime, Tsegaye has the entire history of the sector for an experience. He has also proven himself as one of the most successful CEOs in the insurance industry.


Gross domestic savings are generally very low in least developed countries such as Ethiopia. That paved the way for foreign investment to emerge as an alternative source of bridging the gap between savings and the required investment after 1992. Since foreign firms bring not only financial capital but also managerial techniques as well as entrepreneurial and technological skills, foreign direct investment (FDI) is regarded as one of the major components of Ethiopia’s economic growth over the past decade. However, it’s not all been rosy. Although initial investment by foreign firms improves the current and capital accounts of the host country, in the long run, repatriation of profit, interest, royalties and management fees may harm its foreign exchange position. This is exactly what is happening in Ethiopia. A minimum of USD1 billion is requested by locally operating foreign companies that repatriate profits annually. However, a fraction of this amount is availed by commercial banks operating in the country. This phenomenon traps foreign companies, forcing them either to wait for a long time to repatriate their profits or reinvest it as EBR’s Ashenafi Endale found out.


In the aftermath of free market policies and the subsequent lifting of price caps in Ethiopia, setting the price of commodities seems to be left solely to suppliers and traders. With barely any institutional set ups to protect the rights of consumers, the prices of goods and services has soared in folds with the trend showing no end in sight. The Trade Competition and Consumer Protection Authority established seven years ago seems to be a failure. EBR’s Ashenafi Endale looks into the problems in consumer protection and the road ahead.


The major scare on Ethiopia’s international image is its incessant association with famine. Ethiopia has a cycle of drought that recurs every decade. Despite efforts to break the cycle and rise above the embarrassing and life threatening challenge, drought and famine still creep up. Despite decades of experience fighting the vice, Ethiopia still regularly struggles against food self-sufficiency problems. The lingering problem necessitates keeping dependable food reserves. EBR’s Ashenafi Endale investigates the problems behind this chronic problems and sheds light on the road ahead.


David Phiri (PhD) is FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for Eastern Africa (SFE) and Representative to the African Union (AU) and to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). Prior to this post, Phiri was FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for Southern Africa and Representative to Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Botswana. He joined FAO in 1991 as Policy Economist and then served in the Cabinet of the FAO Director‐General. EBR’s Ashenafi Endale sat down with him to understand threats to the food security situation in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. Originally from Malawi, David Phiri specialized in Agricultural Economics.


Now that Coronavirus has pushed people around the world to dwell at home for months now, engagements that demand physical commotion have been highly restricted. Although there is relatively better movement in Ethiopia compared to countries in lock down, quite a sizable group of people have spent the past month at home. With some businesses such as gyms closed, those who have adhered to the stay at home recommendations need a makeshift venue for physical exercise. EBR’s Kiya Ali explores the various attempts by people to break sweat from the comfort of their living rooms.


Despite primarily being a health problem, COVID-19 has numerous economic, social and political attributes. The combined effect of the socio-economic problems of the pandemic, in turn, have the potential to raise some other health problems. With stay at home orders, high potential for social crisis, unemployment and perceived threat of losing loved ones during the pandemic, a suitable condition has been created for depression to rise. EBR’s Kiya Ali takes a closer look at the problem.

Like the rest of the world but perhaps more than most, the Coronavirus poses an unprecedented existential challenge to Ethiopia. If current projections of the spread of the pandemic hold, the country will see the gains from recent rapid growth, now totally wiped out, the poverty level more than doubled, its economy shattered, export revenues drastically reduced, its external debt servicing shooting to an unsustainable and dangerous level, its social and political order enormously tested and even threatened, and its population decimated by death, illness, hunger and famine.

About us

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


+251 961 41 41 41