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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.


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Housing Prices Have Tripled in Less than Two Years

Buying houses from real estate developers incurs 15Pct Value Added Tax (VAT) and 6Pct title deed transfer fee on the actual price tag. Additionally, real estate developers take more time to deliver housing units which further escalates the cost of construction—ultimately pushing the price tag further up. The price of houses developed by real estate firms has further skyrocketed because of the price of finishing materials, which are almost entirely imported, have dramatically shot up by over 200Pct over the past couple of years. This is attributable to the worsening foreign currency shortage and subsequent rising exchange rates of major foreign currencies against the local currency.

This makes houses built by real estate companies over expensive for the vast majority of Addis Ababans. As a result, house buyers have been looking for affordable options.
Villas developed by unlicensed individuals have become one of the options. These players have lesser tax obligations and deliver houses for less in a shorter time span by using adhesives and other chemicals to shorten the curing time of concrete. For this and the curativeness of the business, they are mushrooming and becoming more active in the housing market.

As their number increases, there is fear that the market will become even more informal and out of the watchful eyes of the government. EBR explores.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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No person or thing seems to have been blamed for continuous price hikes in the Ethiopian economy like middlemen. Whether gas or groceries inflation, both current and past administrations have a way of blaming these players for their failed attempts to establish a strong and resilient market structure. Even though various factors may contribute to the failure to sufficiently tackle price increases, middlemen have indeed had their fair contribution to the problem. Over the past few years, electronic commerce platforms have been popping up, helping counterbalance their negative effect. Despite the impact of these attempts being on the smaller end, there is enough evidence worldwide to argue that e-commerce can indeed help in curbing the counterproductive effect of these trade players in the middle. In this article, starting with the story of a recent entrant in the e-commerce business, EBR’s Addisu Deresse analyzes the impact, considerations, and challenges of e-commerce platforms in an economy.


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The Ethiopian manufacturing sector is still far from being an engine of growth and economic transformation despite potential and assurances from various actors to the contrary. It plays a marginal role in employment creation, exports, and output. It is also short of stimulating domestic linkages and is dominated by small firms, resource-based industries, low-value and technology products, and weak inter-sectoral linkages.

Ever since 1945, when strategic planning for industrialization first begun, successive administrations have been unable to oversee the take-off of the nascent manufacturing sector. Notwithstanding micro-level problems, legacy issues including foreign currency shortages, electrical power interruptions, and sectoral linkages still linger. But now, adding salt to the wound is the current administration’s tinkering with tariff privileges for factories. Selome Getachew reviews the issue with input from Bamlak Fekadu.


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Current and past administrations have tried to tap into the potential of Ethiopians living abroad. As much as there always has been the understanding that the diaspora can play a greater role in the Ethiopian economy, politics has always taken over the way in which government looks at this vast community.

The Ethiopian diaspora—vocal in their criticism of local politics—has long been regarded as a threat to government. Hence, they have been alienated from social, political, and economic activities of their home country. For the most part, the nation has not been able to tap into the opportunities of economic potential which the community possesses.

The recent mobilization of the diaspora in the diplomatic arena gives an insight into their economic potential. If mobilized upon the appropriate strategy, they can play a greater role beyond remittance and direct financial support to be investors and champions of investment, writes EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu.


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Having commenced after the end of World War II, humanitarian aid has been one of the tools used by Western nations to project themselves as the good guy in global interactions. Recently, the West has been slowly moving towards developmental assistance as the criticism against humanitarian aid has been getting tougher. As the diplomatic standoff between Ethiopia and the West worsens, with aid in the middle of the engagement, it is still difficult to pinpoint the role of aid in economic growth. Also at play is the effectiveness of and bad-practice prone implementation by local actors. EBR’s Mariamawit Gezahegn delves into the matter to offer this report.


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The coming of Abiy Ahmed (PhD) to the helm was received with great enthusiasm and hope among the public. The expectation that it carried was that of a stronger private sector, a deviation from the administration of his predecessors. Now after a military engagement with his former bosses, the TPLFites—now designated as terrorists—many are wondering if he could perhaps end up in a similar déjà vu moment like that of his ally to the north, Isaias Afwerki. Will Abiy keep his promise of a strong private sector? Will the current war-economy status totally shatter the glimpse of hope for a vibrant private sector? EBR’s Bamlak Fekadu investigates.



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