Samson BerhaneJuly 15, 2018


For most of the past two years, Abiy Ahmed was best known for being one of the major driving forces behind the economic revolution and reforms in the state of Oromia. But for the last 90 days, his actions as the new Prime Minister of Ethiopia have been grabbing the headlines.

Since he took power, changes and reforms have been announced almost every day. Among these reforms were the decision to fully or partially privatize key state owned enterprises; unconditional acceptance of the Algiers agreement-a peace agreement between the governments of Eritrea and Ethiopia signed on December 12, 2000, in Algiers, for the formal end of the Eritrean-Ethiopian War, which lasted from 1998 to 2000; and the release of thousands of inmates charged with and convicted of corruption and terrorism. He also negotiated the release of thousands of Ethiopian prisoners in neighbouring countries.

Samson BerhaneJune 16, 2018


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.

Samson BerhaneJune 15, 2018


As housing affordability in the capital becomes a hot issue, the twin problems of ‘asset bubbles’ and housing affordability have challenged the minds of policy-makers, experts and the general public. The demand for housing has kept increasing in urban areas like Addis Ababa, whereas the supply of land has remained unchanged, leading to inflated prices. This, in turn, diminishes the affordability of houses for residents. Worryingly, any low and average income earners are unable to construct or buy their own houses due to the skyrocketing lease prices. While experts attribute the problem to the law governing urban land distribution, the government remains firm in its position that there is no shortage, Samson Berhane, EBR’s staff writer, reports.

Ashenafi EndaleMay 16, 2018

The Dilemma Behind Investment Incentives

Many emerging economies like Ethiopia use tax incentives to offset hindrances in the general tax system and as a counterbalance to disadvantages that investors may face. This includes bureaucracies, a weak administration and lack of infrastructure. However, the benefits of such a system have always been questioned by scholars. In Ethiopia’s case, many organizations, including the IMF, have indicated that generous tax exemptions and incentive packages for local and foreign investors present a major challenge to the country’s tax administration system. Just in the first half of the current financial year, over ETB34.2 billion was relinquished to beneficiaries under the duty free scheme, accounting for 37Pct of the nation’s tax revenues. While the figure is mounting year after year, various institutions such as the Federal Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission are signaling incentives’ exposure to misappropriation and corruption. Meanwhile, the government is attempting to enforce proper usage of incentives, and has established a separate office to handle such privileges and prevent abuses, as Ashenafi Endale, EBR’s Staff Writer report. 

Samson BerhaneApril 15, 2018

Failure Mishap or Triumph?

Hailemariam Desalegn’s political history is filled with surprises. In many ways, his journey from being born in a family of 11 in Boloso Sore in Wolayita Zone, to Prime Minister, is a story of the possibilities that Ethiopia affords. Nonetheless, his triumphs have not been short of challenges; his term was characterized by humanitarian, political and security crises. So much so that he gave up his post as the chairperson of the ruling party and Prime Minister. Yet his resignation has left a mixed legacy of achievements and failures. EBR staff writer Samson Berhane, examines.

Samson HailuMarch 15, 2018

Measuring its Impact on Coffee Exports

In October 2017, Ethiopia devalued its currency by 15Pct with the aim of boosting export and improving the current account deficit. Three months later, the impact appears to be positive, with export revival registered in some areas. For example, export proceeds from coffee hit a record high, reaching USD435 million in the first half of the current fiscal year, the highest increase since 2012.



One of the critical problems in Addis Ababa is the lack of efficient public transport. This is despite the fact that government has been deploying various schemes, such as introduction of Higer, Bishoftu, and double-decker buses; and constructing Sub Sahara’s first light railway with billions in investment and subsidies every year. 

These initiatives have been unable to sufficiently ease the transport crisis. While officials stress the government is doing its best to execute projects that expand mass transportation, experts argue that transport sustainability can only be guaranteed through proper planning that takes into account factors like urbanization and changes in land use. EBR offers this report.

Ashenafi EndaleDecember 1, 2017


Cotton, a natural fiber, has been grown in Ethiopia for millennia. However, the local production hardly satisfies the demand of textile industries in the country. This is despite the fact that a total of three million hectares of suitable land, which is equivalent to that of Pakistan’s, the fourth largest cotton producer in the world, is available in the country. To reverse the situation, Ethiopia recently started experimenting with Genetically Modified (GM) cotton variety known as BT cotton. 

GM cotton varieties have proven to be successful in India, China, Pakistan and US. Currently, 25 million hectares of land is cultivated around the globe with this variety. Ethiopia is moving in the same direction. However, there is a recent development in which growers’ of the commodity are reverting back to locally improved cotton seeds. EBR’s Ashenafi Endale has delved into the matter and spoken to researchers, policy makers and industrialists to offer this report.

Mikiyas TesfayeNovember 1, 2017


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.

Berihun MekonnenSeptember 21, 2013


Farmers in the highlands of Wogera, Dabat and Debarq Woredas in North Gondar Zone of the Amhara Regional State, produce barley and sell the spares from consumption in the local market. This year’s price was not more than ETB 800 per quintal. They also incur transportation costs and other expenses to avail their produce for sale. But the worst part is, they may not find market, particularly in the harvest seasons from November to January when every local farmer produces barley in surplus and takes it out to the market.

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