The practice of local revenue collection for cities and towns in Ethiopia is limited. Most towns and cities depend on state and federal governments support to finance development projects, leaving them with no power to collect their own revenues. The practice has left development impaired while leaving essential services to the mercy of aid. With what seems to be a plan to change that, the Addis Ababa City Administration has embarked on a new property tax. As much as this new scheme is essential as a source of local revenue, the amount of tax would be unbearable for city dwellers, writes EBR’s Addisu Deresse.   


Boston Partners, the parent company of Kuriftu Resort & Spa, was founded by Tadiwos G. Belete, who currently serves as its CEO. Tadiwos was born in 1957, in the southeastern Ethiopian State of Oromia. At the age of 16, Tadiwos moved to Sudan in search of stability, security, and a better life for himself and his eight younger siblings. This was six years after the coup that resulted in the establishment of the Derg communist government, which caused severe economic and social upheaval in the country. Tadiwos has endured a great deal of adversity throughout his life, particularly during his time in Sudan, including health issues that nearly claimed his life. He often thinks back to his first job, scaring birds away on a small, privately owned farm. In 1983, he flew to the United States of America and was granted refugee asylum.

Tadiwos’s journey in the U.S. started with enrolling in a hairdressing school and working nights as a parking lot attendant. He also tried his hand in the restaurant business, promoting Ethiopian artists. He then decided to pursue his education and attended Roxbury Community College, attaining an associate degree in accounting, and Suffolk University in Boston, with a specialization in the same field. At the same time, he opened a salon on Newbury Street with seven other business owners.

Tadiwos spent 19 years working as a hairstylist in Boston, where he gained expertise and firsthand knowledge of what actually works and what doesn’t, as well as how to really run a successful business. In order to bring the Western spa experience and beauty culture to Ethiopia, Tadiwos, a happily married father of three who led a prosperous life in the US, bought a plot of land along Africa Avenue and started building the eight-story Boston Partners building in Addis Ababa. He established a salon, which he dubbed Boston Day Spa, after the renowned city of Boston, which had acted as a stepping stone to his great accomplishments.

Since the debut of Boston Day Spa, Tadiwos has expanded and opened the now well-renowned Kuriftu Resort in Bishoftu Town, in the State of Oromia, and Bahir Dar, in the State of Amhara. He also launched the Kuriftu resort in Awash. And notably, the Kuriftu Water Park is the first of its kind in Ethiopia. Tadiwos also proudly promises further mega projects in the State of Afar and the town of Arba Minch. The pan-African businessman is also building The African Village, due in September, which aims to serve as a melting pot for African culture and the hospitality industry,  offering visitors a unique experience. In this interview with EBR’s Addisu Deresse, Tadiwos talks passionately about the need to tap into Africa’s potential and boost local tourism, among other matters.


Ethiopia’s economy, like most other economies, has taken a hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. When the rest of the world’s troubles eased over time, Ethiopia had to fight its own war– literally. In October 2020, a war broke out between federal and allied forces and the Tigray Liberation Front (TPLF). The war took a heavy toll on the economy as well as on humanity, claiming more than 600,000 lives. Ethiopia’s attempt to restructure the mounting debt, and access another round of support remained unthinkable, owing primarily to the civil war. Following an agreement between the warring sides in November, 2022, a few doors appear to be opening. The government has been knocking on all those slightly open doors, wasting no time to save the last breath in the dying pulse of the economy. Whether these efforts will come in time or bring about the needed relief remains to be seen and felt, though, writes EBR’s Addisu Deresse.


As Government Unplugs Support System Too Early

Globally, no other industry has been hit as hard by the COVID pandemic as the hospitality industry has. With severe restrictions on travel, hotels shutting down, and tourist attractions deserted, the world has experienced the first disaster of its kind in decades. In Ethiopia, the hospitality industry experienced a double blow from the pandemic and a series of security challenges nationwide. As if the series of security challenges were not enough, the country plunged into war in 2020, affecting famous tourist attractions such as Lalibela and Al Nejashi Mosque. Even though the government showed a gesture of goodwill to support the industry through tax related incentives, tourism remains too broken to revive after brief painkiller measures, write EBR’s Addisu Deresse and Eden Teshome.


Andinet Feleke President, Ethiopian Tour Operators Association

Andinet Feleke, born and raised in Addis Ababa, had an upbringing typical of the city during. Starting from her early schooling at the Indian National School, she was known to be self-reliant. Andinet received a bachelor’s degree from Haramaya University, continued her education in the tourism industry, and then joined the University of South Africa, where she obtained a master’s degree in Business Leadership. Her first job was as a tour operating office, where she discovered her passion and potential for tourism. Along with her late husband, she founded Jacaranda Tour and Travel PLC in 2003, which is currently one of the top tour operating companies based in the capital. In addition, Andinet is the woman behind the opulent Gondar Hills Resort, which is perched on the highest mountain of the historical city of Gondar, overlooking the famed castles.


Yehdego Abeselom CEO, Keste Damena

Abeselom Yehdego was a legendary businessman, humanitarian, patriotic Ethiopian, and a champion of the underdog. He made a name for himself with his forward thinking and his ability to see far beyond his years in how he operated and conducted himself. Abeselom had humble beginnings but eventually established Keste Damena Foam & Plastic Industry in 1995 – a mega business that is going strong today. When the legendary businessman passed away in 2012, his eldest son – Yehdego Abeselom – took over the helm.

Having completed his education in the US, Yehdego returned to Ethiopia in 2008. As someone who studied filmmaking, he made his first splash as the producer and director of “13 Months of Sunshine” – a film that debuted successfully. Yehdego’s first attempt to make a name for himself as an independent businessman and step out from under the shadow of his father was the launch of Jolly Bar, whose motto “Think Outside of Bole’’ made a lasting impression on Addis Ababa’s nightlife.


In the 120 years of diplomatic relations between Washington and Addis Ababa, it has not been just love that solely dominated the relation between the two. The Ethio-Somali War and the 17 years of the Dergue Regime set records for all time low in their diplomatic history.

With the demise of the Dergue regime in Ethiopia in 1991, the US had become a key development partner of Ethiopia providing billions of dollars each year in the form of humanitarian and development assistance. Ethiopia was also a key ally of the US in the fight against terrorism in the Horn of Africa. However, following the outbreak of a war between the new Government of Ethiopia (GoE) and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in November 2020, relations between the two got strained after more than 27 years of heyday. Words of war at State Department press conferences, loggerheads over the repetitive agenda at the UN Security Council, a signed executive order for sanctions, withdrawals of promised loans and development assistances, and the banning of Ethiopia from the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA)— all show how the their relations has gone through tough twists and turns in the last two years.

However, as the central government concluded a peace deal with the TPLF fighters last month in Pretoria, the Ethiopian government has found favorable response in its quest for the restoration of the friendship with the US. The just concluded US-Africa Leaders Summit was an opportune moment to catch. The visit of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to Washington to attend the Summit on December 13–15, 2022, was in that case a fruitful mission in easing of tensions between the two longtime friends. It was very instrumental in soliciting profound support for Ethiopia’s dollar-starved economy. In this article, EBR’s Addisu Deresse analyzes their relationship and the element of an ever rising China.


Urban financing – the process of allocating financial resources to support urban development projects – includes the mobilization of public and private funds to finance infrastructure, housing, and economic development initiatives in cities. The major source of revenue for almost all cities and towns in Ethiopia has been the state’s coffers. Fiscal centralization and a lack of financial autonomy have been hindering efforts at revenue collection, while corruption, inefficient infrastructure, and a lack of political commitment have made matters more difficult. Although there have been recent improvements, much remains to be desired in the collection of local revenues, writes EBR’s Addisu Deresse.


Abebe Zeluel
Urban and Regional Planner

Abebe Zeleul is a senior national advisor at UN-Habitat. He has long years of experience in urban development issues working both for the government and in the private sector. He had worked with the former Ministry of Construction & Urban Development as a member of the strategic advisory committee. His expertise in advisory includes urban planning, quality assurance, policy formulation, legal drafting, strategic plan preparation, and more. He had also served the Addis Ababa City Administration as head of the Land Development Bank & Urban Development office. He has lectured at the Civil Service University and given short-term training on various urban issues. He has published papers and articles in collaboration with various organizations including UN-Habitat on the issues of urbanization and urban development, among others. In this interview with EBR’s Addisu Deresse, Abebe gives his two cents on the challenges facing local revenues in Ethiopia and overall progress in urbanization.


Yonas Admasu
Founder & CEO, Lovegrass Ethiopia

Yonas Admasu was born in 1968 into a rural farming family in northern Ethiopia. He graduated with a BSc in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the University of Greenwich in London in 1996, after which he began his first job as an engineer—working on mobile technology at Chase Electronics. Thereafter, he continued his studies and received his master’s degree with distinction in Business and Information Technology in 2001.

As Yonas had always wanted to work in the banking and finance sector, he pursued further trainings in financial risk management and quantitative finance—becoming certified as a Financial Risk Manager (FRM) from the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP) in 2004. This paved his career towards working as a Support Analyst at the interest rate derivatives desk of the global banking giant BNP Paribas. He then proceeded to join the world-renowned investment banks JP Morgan and Credit Suisse, ascending to Vice President (VP) of the emerging markets division of the latter in 2013.

After having built a career that many would envy, Yonas decided to return home to start a health-food processing facility in 2015. Although this had always been a dream, his decision was triggered by an encounter that he had with teff products at a supermarket in Britain which were clearly not of Ethiopian origin.

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

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