A Thriving Scene for Music Enthusiasts, Night Owls Alike

Addis has a vibrant scene of culture in recent years; Jazz Nights have become a popular trend among the youth in the city, offering a unique experience for music lovers and night owls alike. With live jazz music performances in bars and clubs across the city, Addis Ababa offers a unique experience; from the famous Jazzamba Lounge to the Fendika Cultural Center, locals and tourists alike can enjoy the electric atmosphere and the sound of trumpets, saxophones, and drums filling the air. In this article, EBR’s Bamlak Fikadu discusses the growing popularity of live jazz music in Addis Ababa.             


The Ebbing Drift in the Industrial Sector

Ethiopia has undergone an economic transformation in recent years, driven by a comprehensive homegrown economic reform agenda launched in 2019. The plan prioritizes the development of various industries, including agriculture, construction, manufacturing, resources and energy, tourism, and food processing, to drive economic growth and reduce dependency on imports. However, despite the government’s efforts to revitalize the industry sector, recent data shows a significant decline in its contribution to the country’s economy over the past five years. EBR’s Bamlak Fikadu dives deep into Ethiopia’s recent industrial performances. 


Ethiopia’s Perplexing Fiscal Dilemma

 The Ethiopian government has approved a budget of ETB801 billion (USD15 billion) for the 2023-24 fiscal year, which began on July 8. The budget, equivalent to 7.1Pct of anticipated GDP for the year, prioritizes pro-poor sectors such as infrastructure development, education and health but reduces capital expenditure and freezes public sector new recruitment. The Government is seeking USD12 billion in funding based on its 2023-2027 macroeconomic and fiscal frameworks. Critics have raised concerns about debt servicing’s impact on priority spending and the potential hindrance to infrastructure development and job creation from reduced capital expenditure EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu highlights the forecast for the new fiscal year, the budget deficit, inflation, import growth, the allocation of funds for different sectors and regions, and also look into the impact of Direct Advances on the economy.


Exorbitant School Fees in Addis

Private schools have sprung up across the country in recent decades, particularly in Addis Ababa, to meet the ever-increasing demand for quality education from parents who are willing and able to pay. Since their inception in the mid-1990s, these schools have made tremendous strides in terms of attracting a large student population and claiming to provide a higher-quality education. As a result, private schools have become an important alternative to the overcrowded and under-resourced public school system. Recently, their contribution has been severely questioned, as only a handful of them had their students join colleges and pass the national exam. Now, they are the centre of the conversation, mainly in the capital, for the unprecedented increase in their fees, writes EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu. 


The Ethiopian government opened its telecom sector in 2021, welcoming competition for more significant technological innovation. It also focuses on modernising the retail payment sector, E-Governance, E-commerce and the overall payment landscape. Since then, there is marked progress in the way business is conducted. Indeed, Ethiopia’s digital economy is booming, with the country experiencing a surge in internet usage and mobile phone penetration. 

The government has launched several initiatives to promote the digital economy and entrepreneurship by broadening the avenues of participation for foreign investors and local job creation. However, the private sector lags in all these recent tech developments. Unlike other countries where the private sector is the leading player in technological innovation, in Ethiopia, the public sector has beaten in taking the lead in the digitisation evolution with Ethio Telecom and Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, two of the giant state enterprises powerfully taking the lead, writes EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu. 


Ethiopia, a country rich in natural resources, has one of the most varied agro-ecological settings. The country’s diversity makes it suitable for growing hundreds of crops, with 74.3 million hectares of arable land spread over 18 major agroecological zones at altitudes ranging from 148 metres below sea level to 4,620 metres above sea level. The country is also home to a large number of livestock resources. Ethiopia’s agricultural sector plays a crucial role in the country’s economy, employing over 70Pct of the population and contributing to more than a third of the GDP. Despite promising results, it has yet to realise its full agricultural potential due to subsistence-oriented farming practices, limited technology adoption, sub-optimal agronomic practices, and a heavy reliance on rain-fed farming. Conflict and severe drought records have resulted in poor crop output, limited market access, income loss, and substantial postharvest losses. As if that were not bad enough, farmers now deal with acute fertiliser shortages, writes EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu. 


For the past four years, the hospitality industry has been suffering from the impacts of political instability. It has been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused the local hospitality industry loses over 50Pct of its market. Ethiopia’s hospitality sector is adjusting to taking a share of the recovering market, with travel restrictions gradually easing and vaccination rates rising reflected in higher occupancy rates, as many hotels offer flexible cancellation policies and discounted rates to entice travellers back to their properties.

Despite ongoing marketing challenges, hotels are investing in new technologies and safety measures to provide their guests with a safe and comfortable experience, critical in rebuilding consumer confidence and trust, writes EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu.


Execution, Literacy Challenging Transformation

Ethiopia’s economy has been affected mainly by peace and security challenges. Shortage of forex, dwindling industrial outputs, and inflation, among other challenges, have stood on the economy’s throat, leaving it gasping for air. Amidst these dark moments in the economy, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s (PhD) administration has shown a solid commitment to one thing: digital transformation. Last month, the Ministry of Transport and Logistics implemented a digital payment system at fuel retail, banning cash payments throughout Addis Ababa. Since the announcement, operational gas stations have been chaotic. Despite the multi-facet advantages of digital payment, enough preparations to work on the digital literacy of the public are necessary for a seamless transition into the modern way of payment. Moreover, the details of the execution of the digital transformation need to be well thought out, writes EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu.


Technology is transforming the digital economy, and digital financial services (DFS) are vital facilitators. DFS is expanding access to and use of financial services, emphasizing affordability and improving access to credit through a new digital lending system. As a result, new environments have been established to meet more demanding clients, with neo-banking being the new paradigm threatening brick-and-mortar banking.

Financial service digital technology innovators are driving growth, and the market is changing rapidly. DFSs are a critical enabler of a digital economy in which access to finance is essential. FinTechs, in alliance with commercial banks and microfinance institutions, are increasing access to and usage of financial services while emphasizing affordability. They are also setting new trends by fostering access to credit through a new digital lending scheme.

Ethiopia has 1.3 million registered vehicles, of which 84 Pct are used in the transport business. The ride-hailing industry provides an estimated 90,000 rides daily, using mobile technologies. Petroleum products are imported for USD 3 billion, increasing the demand for gasoline by 14 Pct on average per year. In this article, EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu assesses the landscape of the growing digitalization of the Ethiopian economy with an emphasis on digital payment systems.


If Ethiopia is proud of anything, it is not the media. For decades, the Ethiopian media landscape has been nothing but a propaganda machine for the incumbent, whoever that may be. However, the media experience has also seen its high points. One was right before the 2005 national election, when tens of thousands of copies were sold in the capital every week. The other moment could be right after the coming to power of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (Ph.D.), when the number of publications hit a record high. The latter moment was short lived though. This time, the toughest challenge comes from the price of paper and the migration to digital platforms, threatening livelihoods, writes EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu.

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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