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.

Urban Safety Net Killing Two Birds with One Stone

Though Addis Abeba is the capital of the country and the seat of major commercial operations, 30pc of the population is under the poverty line, slightly higher than the national average. To combat this, the government has joined with the World Bank to launch a programme that aims to alleviate poverty by engaging the poor in productive income generating activities, writes BERHANE HAILEMARIAM, FORTUNE STAFFWRITER.

Parallel Market Exchange Rate Weakens, Banks Celebrate

The black market for hard currencies operates outside the rules and regulations set by the authorities. While the official exchange rate for one dollar has been set at  27.5 Ethiopian Br, the black market rate had peaked at a historic rate of 36.6 Br. However, the last two weeks have seen a significant decline of 19.4 pc in the black market rates. Subsequently, a slight increase in remittances and forex supplies has been witnessed in the mainstream financial sector, writes BEHAILU AYELE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Entrepreneurship in Ethiopia at Crossroads

Entrepreneurship is taking the risk of doing something and also doing it in a different way than it has been done before.  In Ethiopia, it has been taken as one of the ways to create more jobs and reduce poverty. The government showed its commitment to entrepreneurs by budgeting 21 billion Br on its five-year strategic plan. Yet, many businesses got interrupted before reaching their intended goal, and the government has been criticised for its rigid business starting procedures, unintegrated institutions and for hesitant response to ever-growing entrepreneurship demands. To address such issues, experts and entrepreneurs call for policy and institutional reforms and for the enactment of national entrepreneurship policy, writes BEHAILU AYELE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Quality, Access in Education Diverge

In the past few years, Ethiopian children enjoyed the better accessibility of schools in three to four kilometres radius from their living areas, the ideal primary school coverage overreaching 100pc. This expansion, however, seems not to be serving the purpose in the creation of the future, rather end up being the hallmark of quality thirst. Experts argue that with little attention for basic skills, creative elements and paradoxical curricula, it will become harder to see fruits in days ahead, reports YARED TSEGAYE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Joblessness Gains Momentum as Construction Industry Decelerates

The shortage of forex can be felt more severely than before, and even though the construction sector is seasonal, it has been highly affected. As prices of construction inputs become more expensive or harder to find, daily labourers are feeling the effect as it has been harder for them to find jobs. An expert points to the unexplored iron-ore in the Oromia Regional State as a solution to alleviate the burden of importing the materials needed, reports YARED TSEGAYE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER. 

Authority Gets Tough As Revenues Disappoint

The Ethiopian Revenues & Customs Authority failed 29 billion Br short of its target for tax collection which was 162.1 billion Br, in the first nine months of this fiscal year. Some feel as if the Authority is easing its frustration by putting the burden on taxpayers in orfer to have better performance, reports YARED TSEGAYE, FORTUNE STAFF WRTIER.

Export Revenue Goes Cold, Disrupts Macroeconomy

Although the import bill has shown a decline last year, this year’s export revenue remains to disappointment with barely half of the target met. As macroeconomic problems continue, international financial institutions advice the government to consider making cuts to government expenditur. If the budgets are not modest a further devautation of the Birr is inevitable, reports YARED TSEGAYE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.


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