Ethiopia off the Grid

Demand for electric power is increasing year to year as the population, and industry, is growing at an exponential rate, but still, the country is suffering continuous blackouts. Government officials who are in charge of power generation claim that the supply and demand are met at this time but the gap is from the distribution line. On the other hand, the distributor wing promises improvements by reasoning the commissioning of a new project to solve this problem, reports FASIKA TADESSE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Hard-to-Tax Businesses Still Unsatisfied With the Tax Reform

The new tax assessment result keeps troubling the government as many small businesses, known as level “C” taxpayers, across the country are striking over estimation made by the government. In Addis Abeba alone, about 14,226 taxpayers have complained over inexact daily income calculation and imposition of massive taxes. Even though the government is saying 99pc of the complaints have been addressed, the problem is getting worse and worse as the strikes and protests are spreading to other regional states, reports SAMSON BERHANE. Nevertheless, despite all this, the government still aims to advance the tax base and increase the much-needed government revenue.

Poor Drainage System Triggers Local Distress

The inadequacy of a well-structured drainage system has been a persistent problem in Addis Abeba for decades. As the drainage system is not properly maintained and is not properly constructed at all, it is common to see waste, growing plants and leakages hindering water flow down to the drains, which usually leads to flooding whenever the summer season approaches. Also, the existing drain pipes are not large enough to ensure smooth flow of water, creating an inconvenience for pedestrians as well as for car owners, reports SAMSON BERHANE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

A New Day for the Coffee Market

Today, Ethiopia is the fifth largest coffee producer next to Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia and Indonesia, harvesting approximately 280,000 metric tonnes of coffee annually. In the past decade, the market has seen many ups and downs. Traceability, long value chain, little incentives given to farmers as well as the lack of finance were the major hurdles of the market, leading to the drop in export earnings of the country. A week ago, as a major move to solve these issues, the Parliament approved a new proclamation to bring a reformation in the value chain of the coffee market. The effects of the reform seem to be seen in the export proceeds of the country, bringing more than 866 million dollars in the just ended fiscal year. This has brought mixed feelings to the industry players, reports SAMSON BERHANE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Small Businesses Contend against City’s Tax Income Assessment

After the controversial presumptive tax assessment ended on June 7, 2017, the Addis Abeba branch of the Ethiopian Revenues & Customs Authority (ERCA) processed the collected data and announced the outcomes starting from June 26, 2017. The Level-C taxpayers, who have half a million Br in sales annually, reacted against the outcomes of the assessment like they did in the process. Meanwhile, ERCA states it has done things meticulously and fairly. Until things are rectified and a fair level of harmony is reached, the city’s tax system remains uncertain with traders blaming the Authority, saying it is not fair, while the latter complains back, saying traders deceive or misunderstand taxation, reports BINYAM HAILEMESKEL, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Businesses, Government Grapple with Overstayed Containers

Amid the disputes of the Ethiopian Revenues & Customs Authority and taxpayers over stalled containers, the flow of containers to dry ports is increasing every day. None of the stakeholders can bring a solution to evade the real bottleneck, except point fingers at each other, BERHANE HAILEMARIAM, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, reports.

Armyworm Still Wreaks Havoc on Maize

Although the fall armyworm pest set foot for the first time in Ethiopia in February 2017 in only one regional state, it has currently spread to six, attacking 135,000ha of land covered by maize. The government claims that it is extending support to the farmers in the affected areas by providing pesticides and other technical assistance, but the farmers in these regions are still exercising handpicking of larvae as an immediate response to the armyworm attack, reports FASIKA TADESSE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Addis Again On a Massive Knockdown

Before the end of the current fiscal year, city officials are rushing to clear 1,510 houses, resting on 56ha in Arada District, in an area locally known as Satan Bet. Although this redevelopment project was planned three years ago and the demolition started a year ago, it was on and off for various reasons. But for the past 20 days, the Wereda has resumed demolition of the houses aggressively, leaving some of the residents clueless where to go, reports FASIKA TADESSE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Audit Gaps Concerns

It is common to hear that government institutions misappropriate billions of Birr in resources. However, the Administration has failed to take action against institutions that have not managed to use their budgets appropriately. When confronted, the leaders of these establishments come up with one excuse after another. Last week, the Auditor General reported illegitimate transactions of 20 billion Br. This problem has been alarmingly on the rise since 2014. Over time, government agencies with financial books in disarray are surging as SAMSON BERHANE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, reports.

Red Alert Over Cyber Attacks

Cyber attacks are becoming a headache to the networked community in Ethiopia. The number of attacks on computers of private and public institutions is increasing, particularly following the coming of the infamous malware – WannaCry. Weak computer security systems, lack of literacy in IT and computer use, and the easily transferable nature of malware are among the causes that expose for a cyber attack, as SAMSON BERHANE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, reports.

Traders and Tax Authority Play Hide and Seek

Giving a closer look at the empty outlets of businesses located in many parts of the city, it can be witnessed that there is something new happening in the scene. It is the new daily income valuation process of the tax authority, that has led traders to hide their products with the major fear of being subjected to higher taxes. At the same time, the Authority is trying a different mechanism in order to address these challenges, FASIKA TADESSE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, reports.

Judgment Execution, Another Nightmare for Justice Seekers

Two weeks ago, the state celebrated the seventh national Justice Week at a time when most of the people are uncertain about the judicial system in the country. One of the sources of disappointment in the justice system is the delay in the process of execution as FASIKA TADESSE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, reports.

Breathalyser: Poison for Some, Food for Others

After the introduction of the breathalyser in Addis a few months ago, nightlife in the city has acquired a double-edged face. Traffic accidents are decreasing and night cab services are sweetening their profits. But only to the dismay of night businesses of the city’s bars and nightclubs, as Binyam Hailemeskel, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, reports.

Fuel, City’s Unyielding Test

Like many times before, fuel shortage in the city has intensified in recent days. Many gas stations are shut while open ones are overcrowded with large amounts of vehicles hungry for fuel. Even if the Ethiopian Petroleum Supply Enterprise and the Ministry of Mines, Petroleum and Gas are stating that the problem is solved, anger from drivers and apparent long line-ups around stations magnify the capital’s adage, as SAMSON BERHANE and BINYAM HAILEMESKEL report.

Gifts: Bank’s New Customer Acquisition Strategy

Despite a drop in foreign exchange in the country, remittances are becoming an important and fairly stable source of income for millions of families and of foreign exchange to Ethiopia. It is the number one contributor of the country’s foreign reserve followed by export. Now, with the aim of gaining foreign exchange, most private banks of the country are showering gifts on remittance customers. For most of the bank which markets directly to consumers, gifts are becoming a dominant form of promotional material, reports SAMSON BERHANE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Cement Market Set for a Concrete Future

The cement industry in Ethiopia, although still largely untapped, is set to see some growth in the next few years due to the growth in the construction sector. Governmental mega projects and large scale housing construction are amongst the things that will push cement demand to ever greater heights. New companies, both local and international are trying to make their mark on construction in Addis, and Ethiopia. Even small differences between brands could translate into a huge difference in demand and revenue, as BINYAM HAILEMESKEL, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, reports.

Moderate Retail Food Prices for Easter

The holiday season means something different for businesses than it does for everyone else. It still represents love, generosity and sentimental sharing. On their part, consumers are much more inclined to open up their pocketbooks during the holidays. Unlike previous holidays, the current festive season seems to be stable for many households as the price of major food items was moderate, reports SAMSON BERHANE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Unexpected Demolition Leaves Residents Clueless

Last week a place locally known as Bulgaria, close to Genet Hotel on the road going from Qera to Mexico, was in a mess following the urgent demolition that occurred only after three days notice from the city administration. Many of the people have received replacement housing, but some of the residents have been left in a state of quandary to find other homes, reports FASIKA TADESSE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Ethiopia’s Real Estate Market, Still Under Construction

Despite being one of the fastest growing countries, housing remains a major problem in Ethiopia. In recent years, private investors have significantly ramped up development, particularly in the more developed cities like Addis Abeba. However, this has not served as a solution to address the challenges to the high number of Ethiopians who do not own a home. Losing confidence in local developers, homebuyers are now looking for new players, as SAMSON BERHANE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, reports.

Health Sector Graduates Flounder in the Job Market

The health sector has always been an issue that has long concerned the residents of Addis Abeba. Whether there are issues of education, with colleges being shut down for failing inspections, or patients encountering under-qualified medical personnel, issues in the health care sector have always kept a place in the forefront of the collective consciouness of the urban population. However, in the last year, closures of famous health colleges, as well as health centers and hospitals has brought the topic back into the forefront of conversation, as MENNA ASRAT, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, reports.

Hailemariam’s Uncanny Omissions before Parliament

Despite widespread concerns over foreign exchange crunch in the economy, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn was mute last week when he appeared before Parliament, presenting half-year performance report on his administration, reports Fasika Tadesse, Fortune Staff Write.

New Trends in the Fishery Market

The seasonal fish market is in full swing, with the advent of the Easter Lenten season. However, like other seasonal fish, the year round market for fish is still strong. However, with the growth of the population and the spread of industry, fish populations in some rivers and lakes are falling. Runoff from flower farms is said to be one of the reasons that fish populations in Lake Ziway, although it is only one reason that the fish market is floundering, as SAMSON BERHANE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, reports.

The Saga of Unemployed Graduates

Youth unemployment has been a hotly debated topic in Ethiopia, particularly after the announcement of the revolving Youth Fund by President Mulatu Teshome last year. However, youth in areas outside of Addis Abeba, who have been educated, but have not managed to find jobs, are finding themselves increasingly frustrated with their situation. For some, the Youth Fund represents new possibilities. Some others are less optimistic. Youth in the areas southeast of Addis Abeba represent both views, as SAMSON BERHANE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, reports.    

Road Maintenance Divides Addis Residents

Road maintenance in Addis Abeba has been a bone of contention between city authorities and residents for many years. The rapid flow of people from rural areas into the city means that more people than ever are sharing the streets, whether they are drivers, or pedestrians. The Addis Abeba Roads Authority’s program of repairing and upgrading the streets of Addis Abeba has found some admirers among the city residents, as MENNA ASRAT, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, reports.

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