October 15, 2015

5:08 pm

Made in… Ethiopia? Yes, Ethiopia

Source: Huffington Post

By Jennifer Schwab

ADDIS ABABA — So we got used to “Made in Japan,” “Made in China,” “Made in Hong Kong” and most recently “Made in Vietnam.”  There’s going to be a new kid in town, but he’s not Asian.  Prepare yourselves for “Made in Ethiopia.”

Much has been written about the “BRIC” countries — Brazil, Russia, India and China – saying these giants would lead the new world economy.  And certainly to some extent, they are.  However, the next wave may well be the “EMIC” countries – Ethiopia, Myanmar, Iran and Colombia. I wrote about the prospect of EMIC coming on strong last summer.

With this in mind, I ventured to Ethiopia to investigate further the economic and sustainability potential of this large and populous nation.  Ethiopia is best known for its deceased long-term ruler, Haile Selassie, who was credited with embracing multilateralism and Collective Security which led to Ethiopia becoming a charter member of the U.N.  While he passed in 1975, he is still a national hero and is widely hailed as the face of the first free nation in Africa. In the early 70s, with the cold war and socialist/Marxist views spreading across the globe, the disenfranchised sector of the Ethiopian population namely the farmer, with the support of the young university students started revolting. Soon, a handful of army leaders joined in the anti-monarchy movement which quickly led to the demise of the Haile Selassie regime, replaced by the Derg Regime, which some call, one of the most violent regimes in Ethiopian history. The Derg ruled the country from 1973 to 1992 until it was ousted by the EPRDF (Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front) which still leads the country following ethnic federalism ideology and a market led economy. The country of 90 million is now truly independent, and while still technically an LDC, or less developed country, the EPRDF is on a mission to bring long term, sustainable economic growth and expansion.  I found that while it is not open season for “carpetbaggers,” anyone with a great business idea that can help elevate Ethiopia’s economy will have a legitimate shot at admission.

I started my due diligence on how things have changed with a member of the Ethiopian diaspora, San Diego-based entrepreneur, Feben Yohannes. Upon reentering Addis Ababa after 15 years of absence, she commented, “My people have much to be proud of, the development that has occurred over the past 15 years is by Ethiopians, for Ethiopians.  And knowing that Rome wasn’t built in a day, the city will continue to improve.” She was visibly awestruck by the airport expansion, extensive roads, bridges and freeways constructed or currently under way.

She also noted, “kids on the street looked clean, well-fed and well-dressed compared to 15 years ago. The heart of the city is beating with an air of opportunity. Addis used to be the playground for the few, now it is a thriving cosmopolitan city for the masses, this makes me very happy.”

Next I looked for boots on the ground, folks ingrained in the community. “Ethiopia is serious about forming a green economy,” says Omar Bagersh, scion of a family that has conducted business in Ethiopia for three generations.  “The government wants to do manufacturing the right way, with an eye toward sustainable processes and truly green materials with little byproduct or waste. We want to safeguard our trees and foliage, and new development will only be allowed after careful environmental scrutiny. At the same time, we are attempting to create a self-sufficient economy and feeding our people is of primary importance.  Thus while we are very conscious of GMOs, we have to feed many people and the need is urgent so while organic farming is preferred, other options may be considered.”  Thus there exists a natural tension between sweeping development vs. sustainable development that will be good for the environment as well as the population in the long term.

Bagersh was educated in the U.S.  He and his family are primarily engaged in running coffee plantations, among other businesses.  I visited him in his spacious Addis Ababa home, decorated with gorgeous African artwork and looked after by a generous fulltime staff.  “We are entering the next phase of our Growth and Transformation Plan (aka GTP2),” Bagersh explains.  “This reflects the government’s desire to build and strengthen the private sector leading to more jobs.  Foreign investment is encouraged, and this will be supported by additional public sector spending. Addis Ababa suffers from pollution; the government is aware of this and wants to eradicate this problem.” I did get the feeling that the regime will not allow environmental abuses such as strip mining, and that it will definitely not be open season for anyone with a checkbook. Indeed, the government’s vetting process for new businesses from abroad is time consuming, detailed and slow-moving, which can be frustrating to many investors. Thus patience is a virtue in this regard.

That said, the Chinese have a huge head start on the West in terms of investment and this is visibly apparent.  China is building roads, schools, hospitals and other infrastructure in a highly noticeable way throughout the Addis Ababa metro area.  One can assume that in return, they have negotiated a mutually beneficial relationship in industry, agriculture, as well as real estate projects. “We are open to Western investment but many deals are just now in the feasibility stage. Meanwhile, Chinese investments are making sizable investments that are directly impacting the lives of our citizens,” Bagersh said.

A few moguls of Ethiopian business do exist, among them is Mulugeta (aka known as Mole by close friends), who has interests in real estate development, night clubs, mining, logistics and stone quarries. Although diminutive in stature, Mulugeta cuts a striking figure nonetheless with his lengthy white beard and Gucci wardrobe.  His office is sleek and filled with large format oil paintings by many of Africa’s most noted artists; his collection of African art is said to be among the best on the continent.  He was educated in the U.S. and has been in Ethiopia for 18 years.  Among his varied interests is a local winery, with his partner, rock musician and entrepreneur Bob Geldof.  He employs over 2,000 people combined, and is married with five children.  “We have very little crime here,” Mulugeta states definitively.  “Electricity is very cheap.  Our government is stable.  Our people want to work…we want to feed ourselves.  Our education system is beginning to produce results.  The government is providing healthcare and trying to teach the principles of birth control.  If not for this, our population would be over 120 million already.  So we are making progress.  We need infrastructure and we want foreign investment.”

I also wanted to speak with an expatriate living in Ethiopia.  Who better than a fair skinned, blonde German named Frank Michel.  50ish Frank runs a mid-sized IT business in Addis.  He is married to an Ethiopian woman and has lived between Addis Ababa and Munich for 23 years.  “Ethiopia has averaged 9 percent GNP growth over the last decade, which is among the highest in the world.  This should hopefully lead to what we need most here, which is the emergence of a legitimate middle class.   The government here would love to elevate a significant percentage of its population to this level,” Michel said.

Of the 90 million Ethiopians, about six million reside in the Addis metro area.  Average income here is about $50 per month, and while the cost of living is proportional to this, over 29% are still living below any type of measurable poverty level (World Bank, 2010).  There is a broad and growing network of schools and universities, and while the Ethiopians are proud of this, the literacy and depth of knowledge of their graduates still pales in comparison to Western education, thus many high performers seemingly seek out schools abroad.  This is a key factor for foreign investors, as in, is there a capable, educated, trainable base of employees that can be hired to run and staff your Ethiopian branch?

So what is Ethiopia really like?  Meaning, could someone from a large American city make a go of it here?  The answer is, only if you are adventurous, flexible, have a stomach for exotic spices and very different foods, and can appreciate the growing pains of an economy in transformation.  Power outages are frequent, rainy season is sometimes relentless, neither motorized transportation nor the roads are anywhere near what we are accustomed to, and “luxury” accommodations are not readily available.  (I stayed at a Hilton which was a decently appointed business and expat hostelry…as is the Addis Ababa Sheraton which was costlier and a bit nicer but sorry no Aman or Four Seasons…yet). The food is different, strongly spiced, and one has to be careful with the fresh fruits and vegetables as some are not grown and washed to our cleanliness standards – I noticed that even the locals will eat them only at certain restaurants that boast organic veggies.  Meats are a central part of the diet, along with injera, an Ethiopian bread made from teff flour that serves as a tasty crepe-like shell for “tibs” (Ethiopian filet) and/or “shiro” (Ethiopian lentils). A good strong 4×4 vehicle is recommended as roads are often unpaved, filled with potholes, and generally very rough.  Public transportation is also sporadic at best.

The people of Ethiopia seem happy and proud of their country.  They are open and friendly to Americans.  They express a willingness to work with foreign business interests if new jobs can be created.  They are artistic, with many interesting takes on indigenous painting, sculpture and crafts…the best of which command Western pricing.  They do speak English although Ethiopia has a staggering 88 languages and 200 dialects. Amharic is known as the official language of the country and is a bit similar to Arabic. A variety of different dialects are spoken throughout the many villages that dot the hinterlands.

Perhaps most importantly, I really did get the feeling that the Ethiopian government cares about its citizens and wants to feed them, wants to get them jobs, wants to educate them, wants to teach them family planning, and more.  Which is a lot different from other developing countries that exist primarily to line the pockets of their dictator-leaders and their cronies, at the expense of the actual citizens whom the aid was intended for.  While there is rumor of a large “secret police” force, and in a recent election the EPRDF received 100 percent of the vote, I have no evidence other than my impressions but it seems to me that the government has support of its citizens not by fear of the sword but by its desire to provide better lives for the citizens of Ethiopia.  What a concept!

Archive

Full of natural wonders and ancient culture, this vast country is also home to booming cities and a youthful population. Explore it with our guide on where to go, what to see and where to stay

Read more

The state-owned Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s largest carrier by number of passengers, according to FlightGlobal…

Read more

Ethiopia Overtakes, Ghana loses No. 1 sub-Sahara spot as IMF revises 2018 economic growth forecasts…

Read more

Chicago has become one of the newest dots on Ethiopian Airlines’ global flight map…

Read more

The project is Beijing’s big experiment in outsourcing, and a $10 billion shot in the arm for the African nation—if there isn’t a civil war first…

Read more

Source The Washington Post By Paul Schemm ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The Marvel Comics movie “Black Panther” has wowed audiences across the United States and around the world, including Africans who have cheered on the African superheroes and their fictional Kingdom of Wakanda. There is a little something for everyone in Wakanda for Africans. The… View Article

Read more

Rambunctious, manic, beguiling, exciting — it’s hard to accurately describe Addis Ababa…

Read more

an effort by Ethiopia to turn itself into an exporter of electricity to the region, channeling at least $4 billion into geothermal projects across the nation…

Read more

The old man’s face was beautiful, although it was etched with deep furrows — no doubt the result of having lived through droughts, famines and 17 years of a brutal and paranoid communist government that has slaughtered half a million of his countrymen…

Read more

Apart from Saudi-Ethiopian billionaire Mohammed Al-Amoudi, Samuel Tafesse is arguably the most popular businessman of Ethiopian origin.

Read more

The World Bank again declared that the Ethiopian economy would be Africa’s most expansive in 2017…

Read more

As Ethiopia strives to become the manufacturing hub of Africa, more and more Chinese companies are showing an interest in investing in the east African country …

Read more

As global demand for teff, Ethiopia’s gluten-free indigenous staple crop grows, officials and businesses are looking to tap the global market…

Read more

The BBC World Service has launched three websites for Ethiopia and neighbouring Eritrea as part of its biggest expansion since the 1940s.

Read more

It is an important security step since if Internet Service Providers (ISPs) do not have this new key, the Internet will not work for them or their customers, according to Mr. Dandjinou

Read more

I have always questioned God’s existence, but in the northern Ethiopian town of Lalibela, I was presented with fairly substantial evidence.

Read more

Turkish construction giant Yapı Merkezi hopes a $3 billion modern railway-line project it is building in Ethiopia and Tanzania …

Read more

The e- visa is processed and issued online on a single Web page where applicants apply, pay and secure their entry visa online.

Read more

Ethiopian Airlines was betting Airbus SE’s new A350 widebody would help it lure lucrative business-class passengers away from the likes of Emirates. . .

Read more

Government reforms are designed to encourage farmers to produce more high-quality beans…

Read more

Pizza Hut is set to open three outlets in Ethiopia this year, becoming one of the first international restaurant chains to enter Africa’s second-most populous country.

Read more

Ethiopia, the second-most populous Sub-Saharan African country with a GDP size of $61.54 billion (Rank: 73), is projected to grow annually at 8.7%

Read more

Germany fosters change in Ethiopian textil industry…

Read more

Norfund has made a USD 7.4 million investment in Verde Beef Processing PLC, an Ethiopian beef producer. Verde Beef Processing PLC produces premium beef and aims to become the largest cattle processing operation in Eastern Africa with a target output of more than 130,000 carcasses per year. The capital provided by Norfund will help the… View Article

Read more

The Danakil Depression, including the Dallol volcanic area is one of the most remote, inhospitable and poorly studied areas in the world.

Read more

The Embassy participated in the inauguration of the Ethiopian Airlines flight to Oslo on Friday 24 March 2017. Read the speech made by the ambassador below.

Read more

Lenders are lining up to set up businesses in Ethiopia, one of Africa’s fastest-growing and most under-banked economies…

Read more

ADDIS ABABA, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) — The airport of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa is training Chinese-speaking staff upon arrivals of more Chinese travellers…

Read more

The Caesarea-based firm is teaming up with partner TodayTomorrow Ventures Inc. in a $400,000 deal to construct a wastewater treatment facility at the EPRI 1 condominium complex in Addis Ababa.

Read more

Ethiopian Entrepreneurs who were educated overseas are returning home

Read more

Bethlehem Alemu’s shoes have been sold worldwide by Amazon (AMZN, Tech30), Urban Outfitters (URBN) and Whole Foods (WFM)…

Read more

January 19, 2017

10:27 am

Ethiopian to Open Seven New Destinations

Ethiopian envisages to reach 120 international destinations worldwide by the year 2025…

Read more

Ethiopia on Saturday officially opened the Gibe 3 hydroelectric dam, which is among the biggest in Africa…

Read more

Ethiopia has welcomed hundreds of new taxis…

Read more

A $3.4 billion Chinese-built railway linking the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and the port city of Djibouti…

Read more

Ethiopia seems awake to look in to its tourism potential. Along with the development of various tourist infrastructural facilities, the country is endeavoring to market the resource for economic development…

Read more

Gibe III Hydroelectric Project, Ethiopia […] is expected to be in full operation by August, 2016. ..

Read more

Ethiopia seems to be attracting the attention of economists interested in Africa, and for good reason…

Read more

Ethiopian has been voted as the Best Cargo Airline of the Year …

Read more

Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous nation, has transformed into one of the world’s fastest-growing economies…

Read more

Source: CNN Native to Ethiopia, the Ge’ez is more than just an ancient, nearly forgotten language. It’s Ethiopia’s link to its distant past.  

Read more

Addis Ababa February 10/2016 The government of Sweden is interested to further strengthen all rounded cooperation with Ethiopia, according to the country’s Ambassador to Ethiopia…

Read more

February 4, 2016

5:45 pm

Investments: When Ethiopian giants dance

Ethiopia’s in the driving seat, as investors from East and West seize on opportunities in sectors ranging from construction to brewing…

Read more

A previously unknown population of at least 100 lions has been discovered by a wildlife charity in a remote park in north-western Ethiopia…

Read more

January 12, 2016

10:18 am

An insider’s guide to shopping in Addis

With the headquarters of the African Union located in Ethiopia’s capital city, as well as an award-winning airline…

Read more

Ethiopian Tourism expects the growth to double by 2016

Read more

There are now 2,700 millionaires in Ethiopia, reflecting an increase of 108% between 2007 and 2013 — the fastest growth rate in Africa…

Read more

Ethiopian airlines operated an All-Women Functioned Flight today on the Addis Ababa – Bangkok route…

Read more

Maersk Oil has agreed to buy half of Africa Oil Corporation’s shares in three onshore exploration licenses in Kenya and a further two in Ethiopia…

Read more

Addis Ababa gets first sub-Saharan Africa metro system…

Read more

Minimal corruption, efficient bureaucracy, and cheap production costs are driving China’s investment in Ethiopia…

Read more

– If there was ever a country that embodied the optimism of the “Africa rising” narrative, it would be Ethiopia. The economy of Africa’s second-most populated country has for the past decade grown at an average of 10.8% every year …

Read more

October 15, 2015

5:08 pm

Made in… Ethiopia? Yes, Ethiopia

— So we got used to “Made in Japan,” “Made in China,” “Made in Hong Kong” and most recently “Made in Vietnam.” There’s going to be a new kid in town, but he’s not Asian. Prepare yourselves for “Made in Ethiopia.”…

Read more

September 25, 2015

1:19 pm

Arsenal breaks new ground in Ethiopia

Arsenal Football Club has become the first Premier League side to secure a regional partnership in Ethiopia after announcing Dashen Brewery as its Official Beer Partner…

Read more

Tekle Negash’s days of riding a battered minibus to work in Ethiopia’s capital are over. Boarding Addis Ababa’s $475-million, Chinese-built and funded Light Rail, he can slash his one-hour commute by two-thirds and still save money…

Read more

Ethiopia is head and shoulders above the rest of Africa in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDG)…

Read more

Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa has the most expensive hotel room prices in Africa, according to research based on the price comparisons of select major African cities…

Read more

EEthiopia won the first gold medal at the IAAF Beijing World Athletics Championship in the female 1,500 mt race with world record holder Athlete Genzebe Dibaba in Beijing, yesterday…

Read more

Ethiopia’s government will boost spending by 20 percent in the budget year that begins next month to expand infrastructure in one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies,State Finance Minister Abraham Tekeste said…

Read more