The administration of Abiy Ahmed (Ph.D.), has been undertaking wide-ranging legal reforms as part of its pledged economic liberalization and modernization process. Legislation has been devised or amended to regulate exchange rates, interest rates, demonetization, transaction limits, a loan freeze, and capital thresholds, among others, over the past couple of years. Among the reforms was also a revision of the half-a-century-old Commercial Code that many saw as overdue. However, changes to foreclosure laws in the new Code have left banking executives uneasy, writes EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu.


After the Ethiopian new year holiday season and two months of winter vacation, students return to school. It is definitely tough to take-on day-long classes after a vacation packed with fun. The holiday season right before classes begins offers some solace to students, but the greatest burden of lifting children’s spirits for the new academic year falls on their guardians, both physically or morally. The procurement of new school supplies, uniforms, backpacks, lunch boxes, and other materials is expected of parents and guardians at the beginning of each year. Every year though, the procurement of these school supplies has proved to be nothing but a signal of a bad start. This year is no different—skyrocketing prices of school supplies have hit parents hard, writes EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu.


Since the inception of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the concepts of economic union and integration have existed without realization due to various factors including the similarity of goods produced, subpar infrastructure, and dissimilar legal systems, to name a few. Relative to other regions, the continent is primarily reserved to small-scale trading. Ethiopia, like many other African nations, enjoys such cross-border trade along its borders with neighboring nations. For many years, such trade has been treated as illegal, and the traders were nothing but contrabandists. Despite the significance of these trade points and the signing of framework agreements among neighboring countries, the severe lack of infrastructure and skills necessary to oversee the trade process has prevented countries from reaping the benefits of developed cross-border trade. Even though there are few improvements on the Ethiopian side in terms of setting up free trade zones and other infrastructure, ongoing security and natural challenges prevent this landlocked country from realizing the full potential of cross-border trade, writes EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu.


Startups are heralded for their numerous economic benefits. However, starting a business in Ethiopia—whether small, medium, or big—has always been a nightmare for entrepreneurs and investors. This has been well-evidenced throughout the years in ease of doing business rankings. One sticky point in getting a business off the ground has been the lack of financing. Startups are a driving force in the business community, responsible for the creation of new jobs, development of innovative products and services, and expansion of overall productive economic opportunities. There are now few pieces of evidence which support the view that the current administration has a decent understanding of the role of startups. Through the governmental push and other endeavors, the culture of financing startups is slowly rising. Still, the country could further benefit from better capacitated venture capital and angel investors, writes EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu.


Ethiopia’s financial sector, that had lived under a tight grip of the government for decades, now seems to be undergoing a series of shake ups in the past few years. While some measures by the central bank seem to have a loosening effect on some areas, other measures have been restrictive and demanding with a slew of directives. The most tightly controlled sector in the Ethiopian economy has seen a rise in the number of banks and other financial institutions. More telling is the diversification being seen in availing financial services to previously unreached areas and sections of the population. Here, the sector is registering positive trends towards availing banking services and credit to wider and wider audiences. With such endeavors, however, financial institutions have to enter the risky business of uncollateralized lending—at least in small amounts. In all, lending diversification is most welcome and requires further strengthening, writes EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu.


The plan of various administrations to make manufacturing the leading engine of the economy has most often ended up being a disappointment. Through the failures were also few sectors that have contributed their fair share to manufacturing and the economy at large. The textile and garment sector is a case in point—where centuries of traditions were industrialized during the mid-1900s under Emperor Haile Selassie. A sector that was launched bounds of hope and support from the government has indeed performed relatively well throughout the years. As of recently, however, a series of security, political, and environmental challenges have been slowing down the supply of cotton and thus, productivity of the entire sector. Positive moves like the commercialization of genetically modified cotton have been countered by the removal of Ethiopia from the American Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), writes EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu.


One of those staples found in the majority of households, milk is of the utmost importance—culinary, nutritional, and economic—to vast swathes of Ethiopians. Of course, the nation is blessed with abundant cattle, toping African nations in its numbers. Not the case with productivity and marketing depth, however, as Ethiopia lags behind in both metrics. Milk of the cow and its many derivative products have not garnered enough attention from authorities, both past and present. Perhaps the upcoming proclamation on the matter will change how milk is produced, processed, and availed to markets. Key here is the issue of feed for the cattle that produce the white gold. With fodder prices escalating, productivity is declining—offering a window to adulterers. EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu takes a look at the sector that upholds the livelihoods of so many rural and semi-urban Ethiopians while providing nourishment to millions more.


It cannot get much worse for Ethiopians as has been the case over the last few years with numerous corners of the nation hit with conflict and drought as well as pandemic and locust infestation. Further, the cost of living has been hitting citizens hard, especially those in urban areas. With the mercilessly skyrocketing price of goods and services in the capital and other places, dwellers are being forced to live below the line of poverty. Record-hitting inflation figures have not been assuaged with a growth in salary scales as the last governmental remuneration revision took place in 2017. EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu queries if urbanites will ever achieve a decent life living alongside galloping inflation.


The devaluation of the Birr, a ten-fold increase in the minimum capital requirement for banks, the freezing of accounts in the State of Tigray, alterations to forex retention rules, and transaction and cash-holding restrictions—the financial sector is undergoing an eventful few years. Developments in remittance applications and the adoption of a national digital payment strategy are also movements of significant influence in the sector. The management of the National Bank of Ethiopia is also tinkering around locally developed remittance applications—one of the significant sources of forex in the Ethiopian economy—is also experiencing rollercoaster moments. In this article, EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu looks into attempts to better utilize remittance potentials by overcoming challenges.


The impact of insecurity on the Ethiopian economy has been ongoing since 2013. Following the coming to the helm of a new prime minister, a pandemic and all-out war have continued to challenge the already weak economy. Recently, a new directive by the National Bank of Ethiopia has sent shock waves within exporters’ circles—the nation’s global traders who help ease the forex famine and elevate the hopes of importers. All these challenges are being faced at a time of global supply disruption caused by the Russia-Ukraine war. At such an important moment of unprecedented internal and external challenges, the government’s approach to the matter has a potential to define the economy, and hence, the country’s sustainability, writes 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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