Ashenafi EndaleMarch 15, 2021


Ethiopia has vast water resources. However, only a fraction of the potential has been realized thus far. Access to fresh water is still a problem in both rural and urban parts of the country. Given the high population growth rate, Ethiopia should utilize groundwater for both agriculture and household use. However, little has been done to tap the huge groundwater resource in the country. EBR’s Mubarek Jemal reports.

Ashenafi EndaleMarch 15, 2021


Digital health is the provision of health care services using digitized health recordings and electronic mechanisms. In developed countries, it evolved into an ecosystem where even surgery operations are remotely operated, or blood is delivered by drones at emergency spots.
But recently, physical distancing measurements introduced under COVID-19 increased the demand for digital health services even in developing countries like Ethiopia, where even the concept of digital health is at an early stage.
A number of medical graduates and computer engineers are teaming up to design applications to solve the completely manual health services of Ethiopia. Newly established startup incubation centers are also targeting idea creation, nurturing, and linking digital health innovators with investors. Nevertheless, they can hardly find financers as a startup, nor favorable support and policy environment from government. EBR explores the opportune moments knocking at the door for digital health innovators, and the monumental task ahead in digitizing Ethiopia’s health system.

Ashenafi EndaleFebruary 25, 2021


Although the largest trade block, African Continental Free Trade Area, was officially operationalized on January 1, 2021, only Ghana has started tariff free shipments to south Africa and Guinea, so far. 

“surely other countries will start trading, as soon as the covid19 pandemic restrictions are lifted,” Brian Mureverwi, trade advisor at Department of Trade and Industry at African Union, told EBR.

However, Ethiopia is among African states that did not offer the types of goods and services it wishes to trade under tariff free, though it is among the 34 countries who ratified the agreement. Countries are expected to liberalize 90pct of the 5,708 items, to start trading. 

“technically we have analyzed which items we will liberalize now and which will be held as sensitive sectors, which will be liberalized in the course of the next 13 years. However, we are waiting for Ministry of Finance to approve the items. The ministry is reconsidering the offers, in terms of customs revenue loss, and competitive edge,” Muse Mindaye, Director of Trade Relations and Negotiation at Ethiopia’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, and member of the national negotiator team, told EBR.

Ashenafi EndaleFebruary 24, 2021


Connecting all of Africa to mobile internet by 2030 would add 5.5pct to projected economic growth of the region over the next decade, a latest report by Global System for Mobile Communication (GSMA) indicated. At the end of 2019, the economic benefits generated from mobile technology in Africa accounted for 6.2pct of the continent’s GDP.

Nonetheless, the report also revealed Africa allocate low spectrum but charge higher price.

African governments had licensed an average of around 80 MHz of spectrum per operator and 250 MHz per country, half less than the global average of 150 MHz assigned per operator and 480 MHz per country,

Yet, median prices of telecommunication spectrum in Africa are four times higher than in the developed world and twice as high as the global median. ‘This gap in spectrum assignments has emerged and expanded over the last decade, making it difficult for African operators to offer fast mobile broadband speeds.’

Despite continued progress with the expansion of mobile service and mobile internet connectivity, 50pct of Africans (680 million people) did not use mobile and almost 75pct (950 million people) did not access mobile internet services in 2019.

Ill-advised spectrum allocation policies are affecting spectrum fees operators pay to access spectrum, affecting development of telecom industry, particularly mobile connectivity, according to the report. ‘For instance, when spectrum is auctioned, governments can increase fees by setting excessive minimum prices (i.e. reserves), artificially limiting spectrum supply or creating uncertainty around the future availability of spectrum,’ states the report, which assessed 50 African countries against benchmark of 80 countries around the world, for 2010 to 2019 period.

The report indicated many African countries still have unsold spectrum, which could accelerate connectivity of 3G, 4G and 5G.

‘African governments should assign spectrum that is left over for use in the 900, 1800 and 2100 MHz bands, and further assign spectrum that facilitates 4G coverage expansion, including digital dividend spectrum (700 and 800 MHz bands), as well as capacity spectrum (2300 and 2600 MHz bands). Authorities should also plan to allocate mmWave spectrum, which will be required for 5G,’ recommends the report.

Ashenafi EndaleFebruary 19, 2021


PM Abiy Ahmed (PhD) approved an initiative to establish the first agricultural bank in Ethiopia. The idea to create a specialized bank that serves the sector, was imbedded in the draft Agriculture and Rural Development Policy, which is revised and expected to be launched soon.

Though the idea was forwarded by Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), while the Ministry of Agriculture has initiated the move and is already in preparation to establish the agricultural bank, Chimdo Anchala (PhD), Senior Director for Production and Productivity at ATA, confirmed to EBR. “employees working in the agriculture sector, and also the private sector engaged in agricultural businesses will be the shareholders. many new banks are being established but none are specializing in agriculture.”

There are over 3,000 people employed in the sector, expected to be shareholders.

“Access to finance is big problem in agriculture. Capital is formed in agriculture sector but invested in other sectors such as construction. It is very difficult to access foreign currency even to import fundamental inputs such as fertilizer, although foreign currency is generated by exporting agricultural commodities. The new agricultural bank will solve these problems, especially in financing agricultural input supply,” said Mengistu Tesfa, Director of Agricultural Inputs and Market Directorate at the ministry.

Ashenafi EndaleJanuary 22, 2021


The UN adopted the long-awaited Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Although the nuclear owners including USA, UK, Russia, china, and France have been silent, 122 countries have signed the final draft of the treaty, which bans outright the use, threat of use, development, production, testing and stockpiling of nuclear weapons under any means.

Ashenafi EndaleJanuary 21, 2021


Ethio telecom generated ETB25.57 billion between July and December 2020, which is 95pct of the plan for the first six months of 2020/21 Ethiopian fiscal year. the revenue is a 12.3pct increment from the last year same period, despite frequent shutdowns during the latest period, following political instabilities in northern and western Ethiopia.

Ashenafi EndaleJanuary 16, 2021


When the government exclusively ratified and approved the two Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) editions, independent experts critiqued it as highly ambitious and unrealistic. The administration took ten years to acknowledge the reality. Still, the Council of Ministers approved an even more ambitious Ten-Year Perspective Plan (TYPP) in early December 2020 in a bid to chart out an economic execution plan up to 2030. Strikingly, no independent experts were allowed to forward their viewpoints and solutions regarding major hurdles persisting in Ethiopia’s economy.
Export, structural transformation, and housing are some of the major new wines poured into old glasses. Most of the superfluous figures anticipated in the document, which target achieving quality growth and elevating Ethiopia to prosperity by 2030, are planned to be executed by a similar institutional implementing capacity which was the Achilles heel of past plans. Ashenafi Endale delved into how long-term economic targets become unrealistic under politicized ambitions.

Ashenafi EndaleJanuary 16, 2021


One of the young leaders that bolted to the front after PM Abiy’s reformist administration took power in 2018, is Fitsum Assefa (PhD), Minister in Charge of the National Planning and Development Commission (NPDC). She successfully maneuvered in the struggling economy to replace the previous GTP II with the Homegrown Economic Reform program. For the last two years, she led 12 studies preparing the Ten-Year Perspective Plan (TYPP), involving domestic and foreign institutions like the Korea Development Institute. The overambitious TYPP document is almost ready for implementation now.
Prior to her current appointment, she occupied different administrative positions at Hawassa University including Dean of the College of Business and Economics and also chaired the committee charting the university’s five-year strategic plan.

Ashenafi EndaleJanuary 16, 2021


Ethiopia is endowed with abundant renewable energy resources and has the potential to generate over 60,000 MW of electric power from hydroelectric, wind, solar, and geothermal sources. However, the country only generates 4,500MW, not sufficient to satisfy more than 100 million people. To address the current and future demand forecasted to grow 14Pct annually till 2037, the government recently announced a new plan for the next ten years. The plan envisions increasing the electric generation capacity from renewable sources from the current 4,500MW to 19,000MW by 2030, of which the private sector is expected to generate 9,000MW. However, investors engaged in the energy sector inform that many hinderances limit the involvement of the private sector, and thus meeting the target will be very difficult. EBR’s Ashenafi Endale investigates the issue further.

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