Businesses Buckle Under Forex Crunch

Foreign exchange shortage has been gripping Ethiopia for almost the past decade. Essential imports, such as medicine and grain, as well as forex generating industries such as manufacturing have been receiving priority to access foreign currency. The country’s swift economic growth and the growth of its manufacturing sector has put pressure on foreign currency reserves; a situation which is not expected to be alleviated for another 15-20 years. However, smaller import businesses, such as furniture and gift importers are being left behind and made to rethink their business models, as MENNA ASRAT, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, reports.

Bright Prospect for Local Mobile Assemblers

  Birhan Abera’s electronics shop is one of a few mobile phone distributors located inside Addis Abeba Mall. Her shop has been an agent for a local mobile assembler called…

New Waste Pickup System Causes Headaches

The sanitation and garbage management of Addis Abeba has always been a subject of scrutiny for its residents. Controversies about landfills and waste disposal have hung over the city and its administration in recent years. However, now, there is a new system that is being implemented for managing the city’s voluminous waste: compactor trucks. So far four districts have implemented them, with more to follow. However, residents are not finding that they are any better than the usual systems, as MENNA ASRAT, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, reports.

ATM Woes Plague Customers

Since ATM’s were introduced to the banking system in Ethiopia almost a decade ago, people have enjoyed the ease in which they can access their accounts. More customers have become accustomed to using an ATM machine nearby to make a quick withdrawal. But, lately, ATM’s around Addis Abeba have been experiencing glitchs leading to dysfunctional and unpredictable service. Now they are causing problems for customers trying to withdraw money, with some not being able to get their cash, a MENNA ASRAT, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER reports

Hiccups in Remittance Flow Around Holidays

Holidays are mostly considered by the Banks to be a peak season when it comes to remittance flows. Among other things, Banks will rush to have the biggest pie from the cake using different strategies from aggressive promotions and to sometimes providing gifts for those who use their bank channel to attract customers. However, anecdotal evidences indicate that the week before the Ethiopian Christmas was struck by a slow down in the volume of the remittance , reports, DAWIT ENDESHAW, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Christmas Trees : A festive season must have

Christmas trees are a recent, but popular phenomenon in Ethiopia. Families shop for the best quality trees that they can find to decorate their homes with. The popularity of the decoration has spread beyond households into a growing competition among businesses for customers’ attention. The larger the display, the bigger the crowd it draws, and the more revenue it attracts. With displays getting bigger and more elaborate, every year, some business are having to reach newer heights to keep customers coming back for more, as BEZAWIT ADMASU, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, reports.

Workers’ Safety a Growing Concern

Occupational injuries, especially on construction sites, have become frequent headline news in recent weeks. Disagreements between employers and employees are also being reported at a higher rate, with more workers coming to the point of either litigation or mediation. So far there has been no comprehensive national policy regarding workplace safety, although a draft policy has recently been unveiled. The new policy aims to fill the gaps in health and safety procedures in the workplace, although there are still many cases of health and safety risk in industrial situations that aren’t being addressed properly, as DAWIT ENDESHAW, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, reports. 

Dam if You Do, Dam if You Don’t

Ethiopia is counting on a great leap forward by going big on massive dams.The Gibe III project was just completed and inaugurated. It is now able to generate electricity at its complete capacity. However, there have been many complaints about the effects that the Gibe III dam would have on the environment and the people to live next to and with the Omo river from Ethiopia into Kenya. Although great efforts have been made to mitigate the effects that the dam would have on the local community, it may be too soon to tell, as MENNA ASRAT, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, reports.

The Tangled Tale Behind Sugar Shortage

In recent weeks, there has been a shortage of sugar in Addis Abeba, leading many to wonder if the problem doesn’t stem from the much discussed but seldom changing issue of domestic sugar production. According to industry experts there are issues on both the supply side and the distribution side. But household consumers are not the only ones being affected by the shortage. Confectionery factories that produce candies and chocolates have also not received the sugar they need for their products. The issues on all sides have affected consumers from the industrial to the household level, as DAWIT ENDESHAW, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, reports.

Rise in Parallel Forex Market Raises Concern

As shortage of foreign exchange intensifies in Ethiopia, many are forced to turn to the black market. This comes as local hotels appeal to the Prime Minister to help them lift advisories placed on the country as a result of the recent civil unrest by a number of foreign countries. In the mean time, the World Bank is calling for the devaluation of the local currency to help curb the shortages and kick-start the local economy, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, DAWIT ENDESHAW reports.

A Hike on Price, Demand for Three Wheeler Vehicles

Rickshaws are expanding their outreach across almost all the major cities, towns and even in rural parts of Ethiopia, while at the same time pushing aside classic transportation systems such as horse-drawn carriages. Although they’re not commonly visible in the inner city areas of Addis Abeba, these small three wheeled vehicles have become the face of cities and towns across the country. With a variety of brands available, demand and price are escalating. However, the market environment and competition in the industry are rapidly changing, FORTUNE WRITERS, DAWIT ENDESHAW & BEZAWIT ADMASSU report.

Night Time Blues Getting Better

A state of emergency was declared in Ethiopia in October 2016. Since then, many parts of the business and industry sector have been airing their grievances about its effect. In the midst of the business slowdown, people who make their living at night have been feeling the pinch more than most. However, with tensions lightening and people feelings free to go to their favourite night time haunts again, night businesses are almost completely back to normal as HAWAZ MERAWI, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, reports.

Banks Stretch Balancing Expenses, Staff Retention

The modern banking industry in Ethiopia is relatively young. Following National Bank directives to banks to invest in human resource development, banks have been competing with each other in terms of salaries and benefits to their employees, from entry level upwards. Investments in human resources often lead to higher returns from employees. However, the human resource management reforms that some banks are putting in place may only be a skin deep solution that isn’t sustainable in the long run. Higher salaries may even have the opposite effect to what banks intend, as DAWIT ENDESHAW reports

Getting Used to President Trump

The most unpopular and feared candidate among voters of Ethiopian origin has won the presidency of the United States. Many are struggling to understand its effect and impact, unable to explain it to their children, reports TAMRAT G. GIORGIS, FORTUNE`S STAFF WRITER.

Thriving, Striving

Ethiopia’s microfinance institutions play a key role in accessing the nation’s ‘unbankable’ population. By making the provision of loans available to more people, they open up opportunities that would otherwise be closed off to the vast majority – in particular by enabling groups to share the burden of debt. As several MFIs consider transitioning into banks, this ‘missing middle’ must not be forgotten. Fortune Staff Writers DAWIT ENDESHAW & MENNA ASRAT report

Businesses Scrambling to Overcome Mobile Internet Shutdown

Internet is big business in Addis Abeba, but with mobile data networks down and social media sites inaccessible, internet provider businesses are starting to feel the pressure to keep their customers. But they’re not the only ones being hit by the loss of internet connectivity. Ethio Telecom is also losing one of its biggest revenue generators, so it too is having to look at alternate ways to make up the gap reports MENNA ASRAT, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Flower Market Less Rosy in the Face of Unrests

The last year, until the declaration of the state of emergency by the Prime Minister two weeks ago, no less than 20 farms were ransacked, vandalized and burned, particularly in Oromia and Amhara regions, repoprts MENNA ASRAT, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

Price Fluctuations Create Market Uncertainty

Businesses and customers alike have reported price instability in wake of the political unrest in parts of the country; a dawn of hope could be on the horizon, however, for the first time since the New Year, report Samson Berhane and Hawaz Merawi. The issue has largely been driven by the difficulty in transporting goods to the capital from crop producing areas, as a direct result of the protests – road blocks, in particular. The market does, however, appear to be taking a positive turn since the announcement of a state of emergency in the country, according to a number of actors in the sector.

Inside the Booming Fashion Industry

The second Africa Sourcing & Fashion Week (ASFW), held at Millennium Hall, is another big opportunity for Ethiopia to welcome a diverse group of industry actors from around the world. Despite a certain degree of growth in the sector over the past decade, there are still sizeable obstacles in enabling Ethiopian designers to access, let alone compete, in the international market. One of the major hurdles the sector must overcome in order to catalyse growth is the lack of integration between the designers and garment factories, with the ultimate aim of mass producing products. On the local level, however, enhanced job creation in the sector is a huge positive. Samson Berhane, Fortune Staff Writer, was part of the fashion week and reports.

Price Decline Bleeds Leather Industry Dry

The recent holiday season has exacerbated issues being felt by the sellers of raw skins and hides in Addis Abeba, according to SAMSON BERHANE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER. With the increased supply, and long term depleted demand, many are having to store their products for extensive periods of time in small warehouses. This leads to the concern that many will simply have to be binned. The reason for the depleted demand stems from the global market, where prices have been consistently decreasing alongside demand. This impacts actors throughout the entire supply line – from the buyers of raw hides to the exporters of finished products.

Gov’t Monologue Tasteless for Scholars

Various meetings held in the country’s higher education institutions have largely been characterised by attendees as useless and yet another reminder that the government is only giving lip service to what should be a two way dialogue in light of recent unrest, writes DAWIT ENDESHAW, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER. Many were left angered by an agenda that completely ignored the nation’s most pressing issues, with boos, jeers and walk-outs a common theme.

New School year challenges Parent’s Pockets

With the closeness of the Ethiopian New Year’s celebrations and the start of the new school year, parents face a challenging time financially at this time of year. As is the common trend, this year also sees an increase in the cost of basic school necessities, such as uniforms and lunch boxes. To combat this to a certain extent, the Bureau established a dedicated Quality RegulatoryAgency last year, which is tasked, among other things, with making the price of textbooks transparent, limiting school fee increments and ensuring high standards, reports DAWIT ENDESHAW, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.

New Year’s Cattle Shortage Threatens Festive Feast

The widespread unrest the nation is currently experiencing in both the Amhara and Oromia regions is threatening the festive feasts of many. Both the purchase and transportation of cattle have been impacted, reports DAWIT ENDESHAW, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER. The fear, alongside the shortage of supply, is driving up prices, with many now having to do without.

Buckle Up: Local Car Assemblers Gear Up Towards Emerging Market

The automobile market in Ethiopia has for a long time been dominated by used imported cars. Although this is still the case today, local companies entering the car assembly industry are starting to catalyse a shift in the market. With a low motorisation rate of just six cars per 1,000 inhabitants, there is still huge scope for growth in the industry. With more companies seeking to assemble vehicles with 100pc local parts, the provision of spare parts and warranties on brand new cars may well prove increasingly appealing to many.

Land of Concerns

The Ethiopian tourism industry is at a crossroads. The record revenue experienced in the last fiscal year, which saw it outperform neighbours, Kenya and Tanzania, for the first time, and the launching of a new brand identity, have unfortunately coincided with concerns brought about by sporadic unrest, reports Dawit Endeshaw, Fortune Staff Writer. The issuance of travel warnings to the citizens of several countries, as well as international news coverage of both the protests and current drought, mean that the relevant bodies have their work cut out if they are to maintain the sector’s impressive momentum. “Land of Origins” may be the new slogan for Ethiopian tourism, but “Land of Concerns” could well be closer to the current reality.


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