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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.


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With the opening of dozens of universities and the ever-increasing graduates flooding out of these new institutions, unemployment and underemployment have been typical in Ethiopia’s labor market for more than the past decade. With new graduates continuing to rise, the labor market seems to be experiencing other developments, as well. While some sectors like education are dealing with a dwindling interest of employees, the financial sector seems to be entertaining a contrasting and dynamic interest. As the labor market continues to shape itself away from a mainly agrarian economy, new graduates are also preferring to work for themselves or as freelancers over full employment, writes Eden Teshome, EBR Staff Writer.


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The making of household materials using wood has been part of Ethiopian history for centuries. Furniture manufacturing has also seen a rise in the last decade. With the ever-growing construction of hotels and residences of different types, furniture business has been entertaining quite a surge in demand in recent years. However, the expected benefits of this rising demand have been lost to imports with little appetite for locally manufactured furnishings. However, a slowly shifting interest of the public to locally manufactured furniture might see a more expanding local sector with a potential for exports, writes EBR’s Trualem Asmare.


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Electric vehicles (EVs) are a fairly recent phenomenon around the world, and more so in Ethiopia. As much as the idea seems to be luxurious for African countries, recent developments show that they might not be far off. The automobiles’ environment- and cost-friendly operation seem to be fast-tracking their realization worldwide. Ethiopia is also a nation with some experience in electrifying public and freight transport. With the launch of assemblers and an ever-increasing interest of importers toward such automobiles, we are not far off from EVs becoming commonplace. Yet, even though Ethiopia might benefit by reducing foreign exchange outlays to import fuel, lubricants, and spare parts, the growing prospect of electrified cars could be puzzling in a country where half the population has no access to electricity, writes EBR’s Eden Teshome.


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Lack of essential medication is a common recurrence facing patients. Mortality and morbidity caused by shortages of direly needed drugs during surgery and other critical points of treatment have become features of the medical industry. The common reason for the prevailing situation facing drugs is mostly tied with forex shortages and lack of sufficient local supply. Even though there are reports of sabotage in the industry, there has not been a consolidated effort to replace imported drugs and avoid the drug-induced chaos in the health sector. Recently, however, there are signs that that might be slowly changing. With the government’s high attention to the pharmaceuticals industry, there are new entrants in the sector coming with massive investments. With growing demand and an ever-expanding market for sector players, Ethiopians can benefit from newly revitalized efforts to increase the manufacturing of drugs within the country, writes EBR’s Eden Teshome.


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One of the success stories in the Ethiopian education sector is increased reachability over the past fifteen years. At one point, the Ministry of Education declared access to education has reached more than 99Pct. As much as public schools have played a significant role here, private investment in education has also played an indispensable role. Missing in the story, of course, is the quality of education—a point of discussion in most high-level dialogues concerning the nation’s social, economic, and political path. As a fairly recent phenomenon, online businesses have joined the sector in an attempt to offer increased access and quality. Even though their impact, both as a business model and educationalist, is yet to be tested, these new academic business models are believed to offer something unique and untried, writes EBR’s Eden Teshome.


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The idea of digital currency has been in the making for long. Still, challenges are ever-present in realizing the idea no matter how powerful the digital world has grown throughout the years, especially post-Covid. Recently, however, digital currencies are slowly taking shape to allow transactions across borders and the decentralizing of trading—abolishing the role of middlemen as well as regulations from financial institutions and governments. In similar fashion to the trade of hard currencies in financial markets, digital currencies including Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and Tether (USDT), among others, are being traded on online digital currency markets for the end purpose of buying and selling goods and services in the physical world. Ethiopians—though late to the party and with insignificant investment levels and transaction volumes—seem to be slow-walking into this new digital reality. Some are now investing directly in currency trades while many others are mining digital currencies for extra revenue. EBR’s Addisu Deresse overviews and clarifies digital coinage is its transformative power.


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The apogee of Ethiopia’s livestock reserve is yet to translate into anything more than a disappointing cliché. The leather industry that feeds on the country’s livestock resources is being tied up with old challenges of poor bureaucracy, lack of finance, and market linkage issues. Adding salt to the wound, the Covid pandemic, instability, and recent removal of Ethiopia from the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) are making the industry’s future look rather bleak. Recognizing the industry’s immense potential and resolving its challenges is an assignment for no tomorrow, write EBR’s Lidya Tesfaye and Bamlak Fekadu.


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If two words could summarize typical challenges of the Ethiopian economic landscape, forex shortage would do it. And if two words could encapsulate expert recommendations to alleviate the long-time challenge—export diversification suffices. Ethiopia is gifted with abundant natural resources of adequate landmass with fertile topsoil and mineral-rich crust.

It is Africa’s water tower and has the continents largest livestock population. Its favorable climate and young population are also assets. Yet, most of its resources are not properly identified, well-managed, and well-exploited in a way that can resolve its forex crunch which has defined its economy for decades. It is with this challenging past and conditions that the last few years have seen revitalized efforts to shake up the sector and add more items to the exportable list, write Selome Getachew and Bamlak Fekadu.


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Women have always shouldered social and economic burdens facing their families. Even though there are encouraging signs of more and more of them going to work and earning for themselves, the challenge of raising children is always present in slowing down any progress made, to the point of pushing women out of economic activities. In recent years in Ethiopia, women seem to have found a way of earning by traveling to Dubai and other places.

This line of business has been providing decent income for women and their kin, all the while contributing to their independence as these women plan, manage, and deliver through shuttle or travel commerce. A new tax directive seems to be existentialist, however. This and, to a lesser extent, the receding pandemic are challenging the ladies’ fight for economic self-sufficiency, writes Eden Teshome.




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