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.


Ethiopia is working hard to tackle the many difficulties that its people are experiencing. Conflicts, evictions, and displacements are now common topics in Ethiopian news. These issues pose a significant impact on an already struggling economy. In response to these extraordinary challenges and their consequences, people and organizations are uniting to mobilize resources. Ethiopia has seen a wide range of fundraising strategies, from individuals and groups that collect items for vulnerable communities, to digital platforms that mobilize financial resources from around the world. In this piece, EBR’s Lidya Tesfaye examines the expanding practice of charity fundraising.


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.


The video game industry has advanced significantly as a result of the availability of photorealistic graphics, reality simulation, and internet connections with millions of other players in today’s games and gaming platforms. Video game playing is no longer only a kid’s pastime evolving into a way of life for people of all ages. In this article, EBR’s Eden Teshome tells a story on how gaming is growing both as a business and leisure both in Ethiopia and Africa, at large.


Floors in residences, offices and other such places have seen a series of styles through the years. Until recent times, it was a mixture of cement and sand that would be used to coat most indoor floors in urbanite Ethiopia. Such floors would have been covered by other plastic sheets. For the years that followed, tiles and ceramics have dominated the fashion of coating floors in the capital. Recently, however, the use of epoxy to coat floors and kitchen tables seem to have made an entrance into the business and trend. In this article EBR’s Eden Teshome writes about the material, the trend and the business behind epoxy coatings, and its shifting global market.


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.


The National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) has ordered a ban on issuing letters of credit for the import of close to 40 selected goods. These include all fuel-consuming automobiles, alcoholic drinks, and cosmetics products, among many others. The decision is seen by few as a proactive move to encourage local manufacturing and exports, while others have taken it as a reactive measure in response to the nation’s dire shortage of forex reserves. Some go as far as claiming the move is an official admission of the beginning of the end for the Ethiopian economy. Regardless of which side is right, the impact of the prohibition on consumers has been rough. Prices for the embargoed commodities are only climbing as importers scramble to find new, and more expensive, ways to ship them into the country. EBR’s Eden Teshome looks into the government’s decision and what it means for the consumer.


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.

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Ethiopian Business Review | EBR is a first-class and high-quality monthly business magazine offering enlightenment to readers and platform to partners.


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