Ethiopia’s foreign currency problem is a constant in an otherwise inconsistent socio-economic and political conditions of the past three years. Although various administrations devised different mechanisms to alleviate the foreign currency problem, a lasting solution still eludes. Therefore, the measures taken have proved to be short term remedies that only put a stop to further escalations of the problem. Under such conditions of ever-present foreign currency problem, managing the meager foreign currency resources at hand should be of utmost priority. Sector and policy based prioritization of activities to allocate foreign currency to should be pursued actively. It is common knowledge that petroleum and pharmaceuticals imports are said to be prioritized in allocating foreign currency because of the social and economic impacts the products could muster.


Simegn Degu is the Director for Cement Industry Research and Technology Development at the Chemical and Construction Input Industry Development Institute (CIIDI). He has been leading several research projects that seek to solve bottlenecks in the cement industry and pave the way for the sector’s development. Simegn believes several factors, including artificial shortages and corporate management problems have contributed to the recent spike in the price of the commodity. He believes the recent administrative measures taken by the government are not going to give a long-term solution to the problem. EBR’s Ashenafi Endale sat down with him to understand what went wrong in the market, especially over the last six months.

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