Historical Opportunity for Economic Self-Reliance

Last August, the 15th regular summit of the BRICS member states held their annual heads of state and governments meeting in South Africa. At the end of the conference, the BRICS group of nations invited six countries – Argentina, Egypt, Iran, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates to join the block. From the beginning of the following year, these six countries will join the current five members – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. These countries were among the over 40 countries that expressed interest in accession.


Following the BRICS’ recent announcement that it will add Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina, and the United Arab Emirates, India faces a big strategic choice. Why should it belong to a China-centric club that will no longer share or serve its own interests, writes Arvind Subramanian, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and Josh Felman Principal of JH Consulting.


With high debt levels and falling consumer and producer prices, China faces the prospect of a vicious cycle whereby lower demand leads to lower investment, lower output, lower income, and thus even lower demand. To avoid Japanification, policymakers must pursue aggressive aggregate demand stimulus, starting immediately. 

The Chaka Project, a development project on over 503 hectares of land in Yeka Sub-City leaning on Yeka hill of the Addis Ababa City Administration, has become a pivotal national project. The project, spearheaded by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, is part of a grand ‘Smart City’ Development endeavour that would cost more than 500 billion birrs. 


Addis Ababa’s Transformation Puts Heritage at Stake

Addis Ababa is undergoing a rapid transformation characterized by the demolition of heritage sites and reconstruction because of rapid urbanization. Unfortunately, this has come at a massive cost of erasing the city’s rich heritage. Heritage plays a vital role in defining a city, shaping its social fabric, preserving its history, and nurturing its cultural identity. Keeping the city’s urban heritage is often neglected or considered an inconvenience. The demolition of historic buildings and homes has sparked concerns among residents and preservationists alike. These structures hold immense architectural and historical value and serve as tangible connections to the past. The loss of these buildings deprives the city of its tangible heritage and diminishes its cultural character, writes EBR’s Eden Teshome. 


Fikru Tsegaye Wordofa is a certified insurance and reinsurance professional with two decades of experience in the industry. Fikru has studied and completed three master’s degrees – business administration, human resources and organizational development, and journalism and communications. He also has two bachelor’s degrees, about a dozen certificates, and several high-level specialized trainings in finance, insurance, business and management. At the moment, he is pursuing a Ph.D.

Fikru is the executive officer of strategy and business development and secretary to the board of directors at the Ethiopian Reinsurance (Ethio-RE). He was an acting chief executive officer (A/CEO) of Ethio-Re between September 2020 to March 2021. He also worked as a business development and corporate affairs manager in Ethio-Re. Before joining Ethio-Re, he served as marketing and strategic management director, head of microinsurance, strategic management team leader, principal researcher, and principal customer care and underwriting and claims section supervisor at the state-owned Ethiopian Insurance Corporation (EIC). 

Fikru writes regularly for several magazines and Journals. He has contributed extensively to the world of insurance and reinsurance, and his publications appeared in various Business, insurance, and reinsurance Journals, magazines, and newspapers, including the Journal of African Insurance Organization (AIO), Organization of Eastern and Southern Africa Insurers (OESAI) and African reinsurance publications. 

Fikru is the recipient of various international and national awards and recognitions, including the 2020 Global “Emerging Professional in Takaful and Retakaful of the Year Award” at the African Interest-Free Banking and Takaful Awards, and the AIO Best Book Author, First Rank Award (2023) for his book entitled Islamic Insurance (Takaful) In Ethiopia. EBR has the privilege of discussing with Fikru the state of the insurance business in Ethiopia and how the worsening political instability, war, drought, accident, and COVID made life more uncertain than before and affected the insurance business in Ethiopia. 


Melaku Belay, an Ethiopian dancer/choreographer, is the founding director of Fendika Cultural Center. At an early age, he immersed himself in the rich tapestry of regional dances and music. He honed his skills and developed a unique style of performance grounded in Ethiopia’s diverse dance traditions. With his mesmerizing mastery of Eskista, a traditional Ethiopian dance, Melaku has earned nicknames like the “walking earthquake” and the “King of Eskista.” 

In 2016, Melaku founded Fendika Cultural Center to create a premier cultural hub that celebrates artists from various disciplines and cultural backgrounds. Fendika has become a sanctuary for Ethiopian indigenous arts, particularly the Azmari music tradition. Melaku revolutionized the Azmari bet custom by being the first to pay Azmari musicians regular salaries, providing them with much-needed support. Melaku’s work at Fendika has brought global attention to Ethiopia’s indigenous arts. The centre has hosted Azmari performances, curated visual art exhibits, and facilitated monthly poetry readings and scholarly presentations. Melaku also leads two traditional performing groups, Fendika and Ethiocolor, showcasing the immense musical heritage of Ethiopia with creativity and innovation. Despite facing challenges, including the threat of government takeover and lack of support for indigenous art forms, Melaku remains dedicated to his vision. He tirelessly works to keep Fendika alive and thriving, believing in the power of arts to promote peace and healing. Eden Teshome sat down with the world-renowned Ethiopian dancer for an EBR exclusive. 


Cutting through the Corruption Loopholes

Ethiopia has been grappling with foreign currency shortages for many decades. Despite this, the country’s import figures have been growing, reaching an all-time high in 2021/22 with USD 18 billion, up from USD 14.2 billion recorded in the previous year. Such a staggering increase in imports has further widened the trade deficit. This influx of import transactions involves numerous stakeholders. However, the cumbersome bureaucracies in the customs system, rampant corruption, and exorbitant duty levy have created immense frustration for importers and manufacturers. 

EBR’s Selome Getachew navigates the hurdles in the import processes and how custom procedures, which change now and then, frustrate importers. 

Not long ago, coffee cultivation was mainly limited to the highlands of Ethiopia, its birthplace. However, today, this beloved beverage is grown in approximately 70 countries worldwide. Although not all of them export their coffee beans, 50 of them are known as coffee exporters on a global scale.


A Cost-Benefit Analysis

The recent announcement of Ethiopia’s accession to the BRICS alliance signifies a transformative milestone for the country and the broader African continent. As BRICS expands its ranks, its influence in the global economy also increases and offers more opportunities as an alternative source of development finance. This move is very beneficial to Ethiopia, which has been looking for alternative sources of finance. However, there are concerns that this move will bring as Western countries are wary of the growing influence of China and Russia, two of the major superpowers that are contending against America’s dominance of the current global order. EBR’s Eden Teshome highlights the potential benefits and implications of Ethiopia’s membership in BRICS.

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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