Electric Tariff Increase Sends Shockwave Through Consumers

The new electricity tariffs that became effective on December 1, 2018, have customers clambering for answers why their bills are higher than expected, but the Electric Utility claims that its clients are in error. A landlord checked if his tenants are surreptitiously using more electric power than normal but came away empty handed. Nevertheless, he increased monthly charges on his tenants to compensate for the new tariff increases, writes MADEBO GIRMA, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Gena Arrives With Stable Prices in Local Markets

Christmas is one of the major holidays Ethiopians celebrate. Market prices usually spike during holiday times. However, this holiday saw stable prices that left both consumers and sellers at ease as the price of most of the holiday items remained the same. Experts argue that the stability of the economy has to do with the political situation of the country, write KALEAB GIRMA AND MADEBO GIRMA, FORTUNE STAFF WRITERS.

Commercial Properties See Rate Hikes: Indignation, Resignation by Tenants

State-owned commercial property units administrated by the Federal Housing Corporation saw dramatic rental fee increases after 43 years of hiatus. The Corporation informed its commercial tenants that rents were to be increased by as much as 6,784pc in the National Stadium areas and 521pc in the Lancha area. There was a tenant protest and the Corporation plans to meet and discuss the increases with the protesters in early January 2019, writes BERHANE HAILEMARIAM  FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Civil Societies Welcome Bill, with Reservations

A bill that removes legal barriers imposed by a 2009 law on civil society organisations has been approved by the Council of Ministers. The draft, prepared under the auspices of the Legal and Justice Advisory Council, removes restrictions imposed by the current law. But civil society organisations are arguing that the draft does not go far enough and falls short of international principles in protecting civil society, reports KALEAB GIRMA, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Political Changes Perks Publication Business

Recent months have seen significant increase in the number of media publications, mainly attributed to the rise of prime minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD), the widening of the political space, and relaxation of state-control over the media. Readers seem to be  enjoying the wider options available to them, while some in the business argue that the publications are competing for the same number of readers, writes KALEAB GIRMA, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Passport Tease: New Requirements For Passports Create Outrage

The incidence of abuse against migrant workers has raised concerns about migration, so the Ministry of Labour & Social Affairs ratified a new Ethiopians Overseas Employment proclamation law. Any individual who wants to get a passport, especially for Middle Eastern countries, should fulfill the criteria just like workers above the age of 21. The individual must complete grade eight of education and receive a certificate of occupational competence. However, many people complain about the new rules, writes MADEBO GIRMA, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Public Universities Feel the Heat of Nation’s Political Tension

Conflicts and political tensions in some regional states have caused anxieties among parents who were reluctant to send their university-bound children when schools opened this academic year. The Teppi campus of the University of Mizzan Tippi, and universities in Gondar, Hawassa and Assosa have experienced student unrests this year, writes BERHANE HAILEMARIAM, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Telecom Service Recedes Following Welcomed Tariff Cut

The government’s telecommunications monopoly, Ethio telecom, dramatically cut prices for its broadband internet, local mobile calls, text messages and mobile data services last August. The move, welcomed by its customers at first, has sprouted complaints of sluggish connection speeds and shortages of equipment to fulfill the influx of new broadband connection demand, write NOEL MINWAGAW AND MIHRET G. KIRISTOS, FORTUNE STAFF WRITERS.

Vulnerable Children Face Meagre Support

Ethiopia’s vulnerable children face a murky future. According to a 2017 report by UNICEF, there were 4.5 million orphans in Ethiopia, placing the nation fourth in ranking behind India, China and Nigeria in its number of orphans. In the capital, only a fraction of the estimated 100,000 vulnerable children are housed in government-run institutions and facilities operated by NGOs, writes DAWIT ASTATIKE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Grievances, Uncertainties, Ultimatums Over Fuel Supply

Oil transporters are up in arms over tariffs set by the Ministry of Trade. They say the tariffs need to be increased, since they are incurring losses. The association of the transporters claims that they have also raised their grievances with the Ministry of Trade & Industry, the government organ responsible for imposing the tariff; and the Office of the Prime Minister without any results, WRITES KALEAB GIRMA, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

City Digitises IDs, Residents Left Waiting

Inconveniences, complaints and promises of efficiencies greet the new plan by the City Administration to digitize identification cards (ID). The city’s decision to cease issuing new IDs while the digital system comes into effect has meant that expired ID’s cannot be renewed in the interim. This has caused numerous complaints from residents, WRITES BEHAILU AYELE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Authority Fans Concerns Over Taxi-Hailing Licence

The capital city is experiencing new taxi-hailing local services that mirror the operations of the global giant in the industry, Uber. Some of these companies have been using Code-3 commercial vehicles, unlicensed for public transportation, which triggered transport authorities to halt the issuance of taxi licenses until regulations are drafted. The decision has alarmed operators, users and drivers, reports BEHAILU AYELE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER. 

Political Uncertainty Pushes Banks to Massive Liquidity

With the move to empower the export and manufacturing sectors, the National Bank sets a cap on the loan amount of banks. The action was taken following the devaluation of the Birr and to control inflation that might follow suit. The loan cap was ended last June. Despite the previous experience, the banking industry is still liquid. While experts and sector leaders say the liquidity is normal and suggest more loan mobilisations. But borrowers are afraid to take out loans, reports BEHAILU AYELE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Diaspora Greet New Mortgage Scheme with Caution

In a bid to boost the engagement of non-resident Ethiopians and increase the flow of hard currency, Commercial Bank of Ethiopia introduced a mortgage loan scheme for non-citizens of Ethiopian origin living abroad. While the move received approval from some members of the diaspora, others argued the the interest rate is too high compared to banks in America and Europe, reports BEHAILU AYELE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER. 

City Repossesses Unimproved Land Leases, Controversies Flare

The city administration seized 154 separate plots of undeveloped land from investors, diplomatic missions and government institutions. The city administration’s decision has created disappointments among investors who claim that the action is unreasonable, while the city administration stands by its decision and considers it lawful under the proclamation. Experts applaud the decision and its merits, but the matter may be more complicated than it sounds, WRITES BEHAILU AYELE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Interest-Free Banking Edges Higher Despite Little Public Awareness

The Global Islamic Finance Report says that the Islamic financial services industry stood at 2.293 trillion dollars at the end of December 2016. This figure shows how IFB has been expanding across the world. Contrary to the universal situation, IFB service is generally in its infancy in Ethiopia, and the misconception that interest free banking is only used by followers of Islam and those that adhere to Sharia laws have contributed to its slow growth, reports BERHANE HAILEMARIAM, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Peace Dividend

The rapprochement between Ethiopia and  Eritrea has led to the signing of a peace accord, resumptions of business connections and the reunification of families. In the morning of the Ethiopian New Year, the leaders of the two countries officially reopened the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Following this, citizens of both nations have gone into full gear transacting business and delivering services across the borders. They have essentially created a free border, except for a security check point and registration, importing exporting fuel and electronics without any tariff, WRITES BEHAILU AYELE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Hide Business Tumbles Downward

Ethiopia’s high potential to deliver animal skins to local and international tanneries is hampered by quality issues. Prices for hides have been falling recently as demand faltered at local tanneries who claim the 150pc tax imposed on unfinished and unprocessed raw skin is the culprit, reports DAWIT ASTATKE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Relative Price Stability Greets Consumers

After witnessing unprecedented political, economic and social upheavals, Ethiopians will receive the New Year with relief. To celebrate the day, people from around the city go shopping in the open markets to buy food items. While the livestock market showed price drops, buyers take their time negotiating for good prices. The government says it is adequately intervening to stabilise the market, yet experts say there is more to the price dip, reports BEHAILU AYELE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Addis Ushers the New Year with Spirit of Giving

City government began funding and mobilizing volunteers to reconstruct and renovate sub-standard homes. The city administration initiated the renovation and reconstruction efforts by selecting one house in each wereda. Two weeks into the project, the demand has overwhelmed the effort. While the government is set to mobilize it resources, experts suggest that more institutional and policy reforms are needed, WRITES BEHAILU AYELE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Displacement, No Easy Way Out

Ethiopia is experiencing one of the worst internal displacement crises in the world. According to Ethiopia National Disaster Risk Management Commission there are over one million internally displaced persons because of the conflicts that have arisen in Oromia, SNNP and Ethiopia’s Somali regional states. While the government claims it is mitigating the conflict and returning the displaced to their homes, displaced people say they won’t return to the conflict areas, writes BEHAILU AYELE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Water Shortage Hits Capital Again

With the recurrent water shortages, Addis Abeba city residents are battling it out to survive without clean water for days. The shortage affects businesses, health centers and residential homes. The authority has started rationing water but residents claim they are not informed of the rationing system. Even if the authority has a handful of projects in the pipeline, experts suggest restructuring and a long-term plan to address the water shortage problem, WRITES BEHAILU AYELE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Private Banks Boom on Redesign Strategy

Ethiopia’s banking sector is criticized for its traditional system and lack of robust and customer-oriented services, while the market remains untapped. To rectify this, banks are redesigning strategies with the consultation of international firms. While the strategy has brought changes to the operational result of the banks, the question of uniqueness and efficiency remains up in the air, writes BEHAILU AYELE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Chasing Reform, Tax Authority Impresses Some, Frustrates Others

The extent of the tax burden is one factor the private sector considers in deciding to expand, quit or move on to another industry. The Ethiopian government implemented a series of reforms in the past two decades to create and run an efficient tax collection system. This year, the government deducted tax rates, reduced presumptive taxing days and resolved last year’s complaints from category “C” taxpayers. Yet business owners still complain about the taxing system, writes BEHAILU AYELE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Power Interruptions Outrage Businesses, Residents

The government of Ethiopia has invested 162 million dollars to address Addis Abeba’s unreliable power supply. Ethiopia Electric Utility, is taking measures to meet the ever growing electricity demand of 3.6 million or so city residents. Despite resolutions made by the government, the capital is experiencing increased blackouts, and the citizens are expressing their grievances about the recurrent power outages, writes BEHAILU AYELE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.


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