Although commercial banks have shown significant progress over the years in terms of accessibility, volume of transactions, and technology, they still fall short when it comes to financial inclusion. These financial institutions are accused of focusing only on mobilizing savings and sharing the same pie of the market rather than expanding the scope of their services and financial products. Recently, however, the Ethiopian financial sector is witnessing a vital role being played by Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) particularly in the area of financial inclusion. With a better legal framework, digitalization, and managerial experience, these institutions can play an even bigger role in helping Ethiopia’s development journey, writes EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu.


The Debate on Self-Sufficiency Before Export

Ethiopia has had one administration after another campaigning for food self-sufficiency. No single administration in the past several decades has been able to achieve it. When Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (Ph.D.) first announced his administration’s plan to export wheat, citizens briefly indulged in the idea that the country had achieved self-sufficiency and was able to put food on the table. To the contrary, the news of wheat exports has been overshadowed by the millions of citizens who are in dire need of food assistance. In this article, EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu explores the paradox of a nation that sells wheat to aid agencies that donate it back to its own citizens.


Many have referred to the current global digital transformation as the “fourth revolution.” Ethiopia joined this journey and expressed commitment through the “Digital Ethiopia by 2025” strategy launched on June 20, 2020. Digital Ethiopia is an initiative of the Ethiopian Government, to leverage and expand digital opportunities and lead the country towards an innovative, knowledge-based economy.

The country started to witness remarkable changes in the digital landscape after the emergence of COVID-19, which enforced lockdowns, social distancing, and several restrictions that called for rapid digitization on all fronts. In this article, EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu tells the story of how the latest digital revolution is bearing fruit for e-commerce businesses.


For the longest time, young men and women in Ethiopia have dealt with substances such as khat, cigarettes and alcohol. Widely consumed and considered as part of the culture in some parts of the country, khat used to be the primary point of concern as far as substance abuse is concerned. In recent years, the list of substances being abused by teenage boys and girls seems to be getting longer. As this concerning list gets longer, EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu looks into the consumption of opioids and its impact on the youth.


Endowed with abundant natural resources, Ethiopia has one of the most diverse agro-ecological configurations in the world. With 74.3 million hectares of arable land spread over 18 major agro-ecological zones at altitudes ranging from 148 meters to 4,620 meters above sea level, the country’s diversity makes it suitable for growing over 100 types of crops. Agriculture forms the biggest component and bedrock of Ethiopia’s economic development, contributing to about 32.7 Pct of the country’s GDP and 65.6 Pct of employment. With 85 Pct of Ethiopia’s 105 million people living in rural areas, the agriculture sector primarily consists of smallholder farmers who make their living from less than one hectare of land. The agricultural sector has reported considerable growth rates over the past decade as the result of an estimated doubling in the use of modern farm inputs, rapid expansion of arable land, increased labor productivity, government investments in the extension system, and an improved road network. The light of hope in the farming fields, however, is dimmed by startling losses following harvests, writes EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu.


The Ethiopian-Chinese partnership has developed substantially over the past three decades. Ethiopia is a central hub for China’s Belt and Road Initiative, adopted by the Chinese government in 2013 to invest in nearly 150 countries as part of the centerpiece of Xi Jinping’s foreign policy. Over 300,000 Chinese immigrants are thought to be living in Ethiopia, creating a niche market for Chinese food. The phenomenon has led to the thriving Rwanda Market, where dozens of stores cater to their customers with a focus on Chinese ingredients. More and more Chinese restaurants are springing up throughout Addis Ababa as well, offering a new kind of cuisine to an increasingly curious
Due to the nations’ economic cooperation, Over 300,000 Chinese immigrants are thought to be living in Ethiopia, creating a niche market for the consumption of Chinese food and turning the former Rwanda Market into the only urban food market in Addis Ababa that focuses on Chinese items. Due to the close economic ties with China and other Asian nations, in addition to the open-air China market, many restaurants have sprung up throughout Addis Ababa offering a variety of Chinese dishes to fellow Chinese expatriates as well as a growing number of Far East Asian cuisine fans, altering the city’s food landscape, writes EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu.


The history of duty-free privileges dates back as far back as 1986, when they were applied to petroleum extraction investments, and 1993 when they were applied to the mining sector. Recently, Ethiopia has adopted a new investment incentive regulation, Number 517/2022, which was approved by the Council of Ministers in May and was published in the Federal Negarit Gazette in July. The incentive regulation has repealed the investment incentives provided under a 2012 Council of Ministers regulation. However, directives issued prior to the enactment of the new incentive regulation will remain under enforcement until replaced by new ones to be issued by the Ministry of Finance . In this article, EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu reviews the new incentive regulation.


Ethiopia’s economic growth over the last two-plus decades has been lauded as exemplary by many, including the World Bank and IMF. Nonetheless, development in terms of food self-sufficiency, unemployment reduction, and self-sustaining industrial growth have remained distant goals. The reality of the economy’s most important sector – agriculture – highlights the lack of meaning in encouraging annual economic reports or praise for unprecedented economic growth. Although there has been improvement, agricultural output remains low and the country still imports a large portion of the grains it consumes. Skyrocketing inflation and growing import bills have pushed the administration to double down on initiatives aimed at better productivity. It is the right call, but it will be difficult to achieve the goals without addressing the core issues plaguing farmers – lack of access to finance, the unavailability of mechanization, surging prices for inputs, and an ever-decreasing average landholding size. EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu explores the realities facing the Ethiopian agricultural sector and what the future holds for smallholder farmers.


As PM Promises Chicken for Every Meal

Ethiopia boasts the largest livestock population in Africa, and its cattle, goats, sheep, and camels are integral parts of the agricultural sector, national GDP, and export earnings. Although agriculture accounts for more than a quarter of GDP and an even higher proportion of income from exports, livestock’s share remains low as productivity and commercialization lag behind. This is despite decades of intervention by the government and international donor agencies to improve the sub-sector. As a new round of efforts led by the Prime Minister takes off, EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu takes a look at the challenges facing the livestock business.


The bars of gold, the diamonds, the gemstones, and the oil were stories Ethiopians have lived with about the riches of their country under the earth. Not materialized enough to change lives, those stories have remained a myth. Even though various administrations admitted the economic value of gemstones and mining in general, the lack of proper policy and legal frameworks, skilled labour, private investment, and market promotion at local and global scale have challenged the robust growth of the sector. This seems to be the thing of the past as the current administration of Abiy Ahmed (PhD) has put the sector at the heart of its ten-year perspective plan. With an overhauled institution under the leadership of Takele Uma (Engi.), the Ministry of Mines is set to enable the country make the most out of its mineral resources. Even though there are still high hopes for gemstones with positive global market prospects, production is still challenged by conflicts, parallel markets, and artificial products, among many other challenges, 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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