Unveiling Ethiopia’s rich tapestry of Islamic history, the Bilalul Habeshi Museum in Addis Ababa is a testament to the nation’s enduring spiritual connection with the Islamic faith. This pioneering institution transcends the Museum’s role, transforming it into a repository of invaluable relics, manuscripts, and artefacts. Visitors encounter treasures like the revered letter attributed to Prophet Muhammad addressed to King Nejashi, a symbol of the historical bond between Ethiopia and early Islam. Beyond such singular pieces, the Museum boasts a diverse collection of ancient manuscripts and a captivating array of Ethiopian Islamic cultural artefacts. The Bilalul Habeshi Museum sheds light on the long-standing relationship between Ethiopia’s unique cultural identity and the Islamic world through these objects. EBR’s Abiy Hailu visited the Museum and reflects on its significance in preserving and promoting Ethiopia’s deep-rooted connection with Islam.


Ethiopia’s Growing Interest-Free Banking Brings Transformative Change

Ethiopia’s financial sector is undergoing a significant transformation, with Islamic banking emerging as a critical driver of inclusion and economic empowerment. This surge responds directly to the substantial Muslim population’s demand for Sharia-compliant financial instruments.

Previously absent, interest-free banking gained a foothold in 2011 through designated windows within conventional banks. Recognising its immense potential, Ethiopia took a bold step in 2020, permitting full-fledged Islamic financial institutions to be established. This regulatory shift opened doors for a broader range of Sharia-compliant products, fostering financial inclusion for unbanked Ethiopians.

The impact extends beyond individual empowerment. Islamic banking principles, built on profit-sharing and risk-sharing mechanisms, encourage entrepreneurship and business growth. Interest-free banks act as catalysts for job creation and economic diversification by financing ventures based on shared success.

EBR’s Eden Teshome’s exploration delves deeper into this compelling story. Her analysis sheds light on the specific financial products offered, the reach of Islamic banking in different regions, and its measurable contribution to Ethiopia’s economic development. Examining success stories of individuals and businesses that have thrived under this evolving system will further illuminate the transformative power of Islamic banking in Ethiopia.


Expos as Catalysts for  Commerce and Cultural Exchange

As the holy month of Ramadan approaches, the anticipation for vibrant expos and bazaars celebrating this sacred time grows. These events, held in various countries worldwide, provide a unique platform for commerce, cultural exchange, and community engagement. One such event, the Ethio Ed Expo and Bazaar 2024, organized by 3E Events Pvt. Ltd., brought together manufacturers, traders, visitors, and the community at the Millennium Hall in Ethiopia. With over 100 exhibitors and a bustling crowd of more than 100,000 attendees, the expo created a lively and vibrant atmosphere where commerce and culture intertwined. Exhibitors showcased a wide array of products and services, while educational activities, competitions, and shows engaged and captivated attendees. The event served as a networking and knowledge-sharing hub for members of the business community, invited guests, media bodies, and stakeholders from Ethiopia and beyond. Beyond commerce, these expos also fostered cultural diversity and understanding, featuring cultural displays, performances by esteemed mashaikhs and Quran readers, and exhibitions that showcased the traditions, heritage, and artistic expressions of different countries and communities. These expo’s create lasting connections, promote cultural appreciation, and provide valuable insights into the latest trends and innovations. As we enter the holy month of Ramadan, let us recognize the significance of these expos in celebrating the spirit of Ramadan, where culture, commerce, and community converge, creating an unforgettable experience for all writes EBR’s Eden Teshome.


Babul Kheyer, meaning “Gate of Good,” is a charitable organisation that has significantly impacted the lives of thousands of needy individuals. Founded by Hanan Mahmuda, a compassionate and determined woman, Babul Kheyer has become a beacon of hope for the underprivileged. The organisation showcases the transformative power of unity and selfless service through its daily provision of meals, assistance to needy people, and empowerment initiatives. In this article, EBR’s Eden Teshome delve into the origins of Babul Kheyer, its remarkable achievements, and the unwavering dedication of Hanan.


The Al Nejashi Mosque, situated in Ethiopia’s northern town of Negash, holds immense historical and religious importance. Recognized as one of Africa’s earliest mosques and among the oldest globally, it bears the name of King Negash. The mosque is a powerful symbol of compassion and support, a testament to the king’s act of refuge for the early Muslim followers (Sahabah) persecuted by Mecca’s Quraysh tribe. This act led to the establishment of the first Muslim settlement in Negash. The mosque embodies Ethiopia’s warm welcome to these early Muslims and the nation’s deep-rooted historical ties to Islam.

Despite its rich heritage, the Tigray region, where Negash is located, has faced significant challenges in attracting tourists due to the recent devastating civil war and ongoing conflict. Efforts to promote tourism, including the mosque’s restoration by the Turkish government, have been hampered, EBR’s Samuel Getachew, who visited the site to compile this report, highlights.


Exploring Ethiopia’s Unique Ramadan Style

The holy month of Ramadan transcends religious practice, shaping spiritual observances and fashion trends. During this sacred period, the demand for modest clothing surges, reflecting religious requirements and global fashion influences. This dynamic interplay is transforming Ethiopia’s Ramadan fashion landscape, with a growing presence of imported garments and locally tailored designs catering to this evolving demand.

EBR’s Nejat Ahmed delves into the intricate connections between faith, style, and the fashion choices of Ethiopian Muslims during Ramadan.

Globally, Takaful – a Sharia-adherent insurance scheme – is registering unparalleled development. The product is being offered in the form of either family or general Takaful to cater to the need for protection and cooperation at times of risk. Takaful insurance became effective in Ethiopia on the 15th day of June 2020 with the issuance of the National Bank of Ethiopia’s (NBE) Directive No. STB/1/2020, a Directive to license a takaful operator or a takaful window operator. Conversely, the product is at the early introduction and premature stage, while a massive potential exists. Records in Ethiopia demonstrate that the expanding Muslim population is anticipated to be a driving force for the takaful market. However, the question lies with the availability of innovative and value-adding products apart from simply naming the existing conventional insurance products under the guise of Islamic insurance.

How Interest Free Banking Fosters Transparency, Strengthens the Economy

In Ethiopia, following the legal framework for interest-free banking products established a decade ago, the banking industry has introduced a range of Sharia-compliant saving and investment products under window services. The revised banking proclamation passed in 2019 ushered in a new era of full-fledged interest-free banking services. Currently, we have four full-fledged interest-free banks and more than a dozen conventional banks that provide interest-free banking services under window arrangements.


Catering to Growing Demands, Values

Ethiopia, known for its diverse cultural and religious tapestry, has recently experienced a significant surge in demand for Halal products and services. This trend reflects a growing awareness of Halal principles, particularly within the country’s substantial Muslim population, estimated at around 34%, according to various studies.

This heightened awareness presents a significant market opportunity. Businesses increasingly recognise the demand for Halal-certified products, primarily focusing on food. However, the need for Halal-certified cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and other goods is also emerging. This rise in Halal businesses presents exciting new avenues to boost exports, paving the way for increased investment and job creation.

However, the expansion of the Halal business sector needs some help. Ethiopia needs a robust national Halal certification system and a well-defined policy and legal framework. The infrastructure and logistics to create a truly enabling environment have yet to be fully established. These shortcomings hinder export performance and erode consumer trust.

Despite these hurdles, Ethiopia’s burgeoning Halal market holds immense potential. By addressing certification limitations and fostering adherence to Halal standards, Ethiopia can strategically position itself as a significant player in the global Halal industry. This article explores the proliferation of Halal businesses in Ethiopia, examining the driving forces behind this growth, the opportunities it presents, and the challenges it faces.

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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