The unheralded actor in the Ethiopian economy is the woman doing free work in the home or elsewhere. Established institutional and patriarchal norms in our society means that at best, the woman is paid in-kind for her work.

Experts say that this manner of work needs to be quantified to show the true worth of free labor as well as lead to a system where government provides subsidized goods and services to these women, and sometimes men, that are the backbone of the nation’s economic movement. EBR’s Trualem Asmare looks into the topic.


Legal friction amongst businesses is a naturally occurring phenomenon. However, if there is no equally-dynamic venue and avenue to solve those frictions, business activity will get stuck. The normal court system which handles criminal cases and takes months and years to conclude, is too slow for business.

Though arbitration is globally preferred as the best business dispute settlement mechanism, Ethiopia has not had the necessary legal frameworks in place. Usually, business arbitration awards rendered in any country across the world are acceptable by the highest courts. However, this was missing in Ethiopia until the nation signed the 1958 New York Convention in 2021.

Until now, most business conflicts arising from contracts between Ethiopian businesses and foreign partners, have been arbitrated outside of Ethiopia. This has its costs in terms of undue foreign currency consumption, inability to receive fair arbitration, and misconception of Ethiopia as business unfriendly. Ashenafi Endale explores the new changes after the ratification of the convention, as well as the new local arbitration proclamation.


When the massive edible oil factories, Phibela and W.A., were inaugurated with state fanfare, many believed Ethiopia would no longer face cooking oil shortages, even to the extent that imports would be fully substituted with local production. Six months after the launching of the two giants, cooking oil has become a precious commodity in Addis Ababa with prices rising.
With over 2.7 million liters demanded every day, Ethiopian currently imports 1.3 million liters. Though the daily supply from medium- and large-scale factories in the country has dramatically increased from last year’s 228,800 to 992,876 liters currently, it is still far less than their installed capacities of 3.4 million liters.

Even with blossoming local production, there is in excess of 10.4 million liters in supply gap every month. Lack of power supply and raw materials is crippling even the big oil complexes, as most of the oilseed production is exported to fetch foreign currency for importers. EBR’s Mersha Tiruneh explores government’s misguided policy and the extra effort edible oil factories are undertaking towards farming their own supply of oilseeds.


Economic opportunities accessible to women are primarily tied to financing, and lack of working space to a lesser extent. Studies show that women, though with less access to loans, are better loan performers in terms of repayment and society trickle-down effects. Those that do access microloans are stuck in their success as there are no avenues to transition into larger bank loans due to collateral and guarantor requirements and commercial banks have a loan appraisal systems largely incompatible with the needs of small business owners. EBR’s Mariamawit Gezahegn assesses the current financial environment as well as suggestions that are critical to gender equality and empowering women.


Persisting efforts to reposition Ethiopian coffee in the international market have begun to bear fruit, as the price of the nation’s specialty coffee has grown by 35Pct from last year, notwithstanding coffees fetching way above that during the recent Cup of Excellence competition. Yet, international markets are still not working to the interest of coffee growers but rather for processors, who use Ethiopian coffee to spice up their final coffee recipes and thus compensate for low quality coffees bought in bulk from other countries.

Ethiopia has undertaken substantial investment in increasing productivity, as well as straightening the local supply chain. However, such accomplishments domestically are not equally backed with efforts of reasserting the worth of Ethiopian coffee in international markets. Ethiopia still has no decision-making power over its coffees internationally, as coffee is mainly exported just to generate foreign currency. EBR’s Ashenafi Endale explores the remaining homework in removing the glass ceiling looking down on Ethiopian coffee.


It is to be expected that whenever demand is high, the market usually responds by supplying more. But this year in Ethiopia, supply of cement was 5.5 million tons below demand. Though shortages began in 2018, major fluctuations have twice been seen in 2021 owing to spare part and maintenance problems on one side, and political insecurity and war on the other—even to the extent of the full shutdown of Messebo Cement Factory in Tigray and its 2.1 million tons of production.

Additionally, the government is handicapped to effectively oversee distribution of even produced cement, to the point where it could only be accessed from the black market for a certain period. EBR’s Ashenafi Endale assesses how Ethiopia could go from self-sufficiency to the reconsideration of cement imports.


Of the under-pressure media sector in Ethiopia, private press is perhaps enduring the highest burden—constantly increasing rates by printers. This expense, which takes up half of Ethiopian periodicals’ annual outlays, persists in an overall rough environment where distributors are cartel-like and government is not the friendliest. Add to this encroachment by cheaply produced digital news and reduced advertising activity, private weeklies and monthlies in Ethiopia are an endangered species. EBR’s Ashenafi Endale looks into the company’s parent industry where solutions are found in better local pulp and paper production, in-house printing and distribution, and better-quality journalism.


Missing out on rain is equivalent to relinquishing the harvesting of crops in Ethiopia’s rain-based agricultural system. As Ethiopia’s chief cultivation season arrives alongside the major rainy season, over 2 million farmers have abandoned their farms to find shelter in safer areas. Ethiopia’s internally displaced population is still out of control three years after the challenge started rising.
But the recent influx of dislodged people in high agricultural corridors including northern Shewa, Wello, western Oromia, Benishangul, and of course, Tigray comes at the crucial time of Ethiopia’s major farming season. As farmers have not prepared the land for the tilling period that ends in June, the upcoming Meher harvest season is forecasted to experience substantial setbacks. The uncultivated lands will result not only in production reductions, but will also place its society in a cyclical fight against poverty. Humanitarian assistance for farmers is stressing the nation’s coffers. Also, as farmers supply 30Pct of their production to markets, the reduction will also contribute to food inflation. EBR’s Mersha Tiruneh assessed the disruption which conflict and farmers’ displacement are pouring onto agriculture and the economy at large.


The urban poor in Ethiopia are being hit by the invisible hammer that’s getting larger in size day by day. It is hard to recall a time where inflation was so prevalent and unrelenting. Even salaried workers—most employed by the government—are falling below internationally accepted thresholds of poverty. Former middle-class residents are now slipping into the low-income bracket and are utilizing consumer association shops to access basic commodities at cheaper prices that were previously destined for the poor. Further down, those with low incomes are falling into the ‘poor of the poor’ level, which can only be handled through direct support including the SafetyNet program. The administration is exerting efforts to help with the pain, but the underlying causes are yet to be tackled. Subsidies and direct payments to urbanites can only go so far as the regime’s pockets are getting shallower. EBR takes a close look at the toll inflation is inflicting upon urban residents and possible coping mechanisms both structurally and temporarily.


Ethiopia’s sources of finance are thinning, calling into question the sustainability of the large government-financed GDP expansion of the last fifteen years. The recent decision of the US to impose economic sanctions on Ethiopia has only worsened the situation of Ethiopia’s external financial sources, already crippled with high debts.

In a bid to maintain the 10Pct average annual growth, government needs to invest 37Pct of GDP—very difficult to fulfill from only tax and FDIs weakened by conflict and COVID-19. Even the highly expected telecom license sale did not garner expected amounts.

New investments are critical to maintain the pace of growth and fulfill the demands of a fast-growing population and fend off soaring inflation and unemployment. Finalizing the megaprojects of the past decade needs further investment and starting new ones seams dreamy. EBR’s Ashenafi Endale navigates alternative venues left for development financing.

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