Social Media: An Unlikely Stage for Ethiopian Social Discourse

Considering that the Age of Information and Communications Technologies connects the world in unprecedented ways and that nowhere is too remote for the reach of the cell-phone, increasing internet access is inevitable. FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, MIKIYAS TESFAYE explores social media’s impact in Ethiopia (using its new language to do so), and concludes that it is an unlikely stage for social discourse in Ethiopia. However, given the phenomenon of the global village, it is unlikely that social media will retain this status for too long.

Big Business Lights Spread Holiday Cheer

There is a festive feeling in the air with anticipation of renewal that the New Year brings. No doubt the decorative lighting and cultural programmes at the shopping malls around Addis Abeba are contributing to the holiday spirit and to the increased shopping activity that goes with the annual approach of the New Year. HIDAT ARKEBE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER steps into the world of beautifully lit malls and explores with those who make decisions about holiday decorations as well as with shoppers, how the lighting impacts both their mood and their spending.

Huge New Year Exhibition Hard on the Pocket

The Addis Abeba Exhibition Centre, currently the venue for the annual New Year Exhibition and Bazaar is a daily hub of activity. Families and friends can be seen wending their way across the balloon-bedecked Meskel Square (Stadium) entrance and the admission fee of 15 Br is affordable to many. However, once inside, repeat visitors find quantity but miss the traditional quality of uniqueness in the items displayed. As FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, LUCY KASSA talks with patrons and vendors, the former complain about high prices instead of discounts, while the latter give mixed reviews based on their experiences and comparison with past exhibitions. There seems to be consensus though, that the high costs have been passed from organisers to vendors to consumers.

A Choice of Fine Furniture for the New Year

As the New Year approaches, it is traditional to spruce up the home and this often means increased business for furniture makers. Whether high end imported furniture or locally made furniture catering to a range of incomes, the season brings increased demand. Customers, of course, take advantage of holiday discounts on offer. FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, DAWIT ENDESHAW was able to witness these trends as he visited furniture-makers in different locations and discussed the holiday market with them and their customers. Clearly new furniture helps to make the New Year special.

Old Relation, New Hope for Investment

Japanese electronics and vehicles are known in Africa and the Kaizen business model has been adopted by some companies on the continent. However, in the wake of the second Africa-Japan Investment Business Forum in Addis Abeba, the much hoped for outcome is the removal of hindrances to the lagging Japanese investment in Ethiopia. FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, BROOK ABDU talks with one Ethiopian businessman who has had a successful joint venture with Japanese partners, and delves into the history of Ethiopia and Japan’s diplomatic and trading relations, with the former seeming to overshadowing the latter.

Holiday Concerts Becoming a Rarity in the City

The entertainment industry is changing in many ways, mainly due to ready access to music availed by modern technology but also due to changing tastes and lower purchasing power. LUCY KASSA, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER went in search of concerts and tried to find out why this interest in this once-popular holiday activity has waned. Explanations were provided by the people in the business who are all affected by the forces of concert demand and supply.

The Rapidly Changing Movie Distribution Business

Piracy has become more than a trend in the movie industry; it has become a business in its own right which legal measures alone have not been able to stem. Ethiopian movie makers are not exempt from this phenomenon and some are on the verge of giving up. FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, HIDAT ARKEBE finds out how those who own copyright and registered businesses try to protect themselves against the losses.

HELP – Only a Phone Call Away

Information and Communication Technologies are making an impact in Ethiopia as they are worldwide. Call centres are among the new information service providers giving easy access to professional advice in the fields of medicine and law as well as the more traditional telephone directory services. They are even providing intermediary banking services all in collaboration with ethio telecom. FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, HIDAT ARKEBE recently delved into this business space and found out more about the telephone services provided, their benefits and challenges.

Ethiopia Awaits Visitors with Open Arms

Ethiopia has begun to win tourism awards and there is consensus about the country’s vast potential as a visitor destination. Yet there is recognition of the need for adequate infrastructure, appropriate institutions and strategies to maximise this potential sustainably. The country’s rich offerings are still not well-known and attractions not sufficiently promoted and managed to entice visitors to stay just a bit longer. This was the thrust of FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, LUCY KASSA’s interactions with some of the players involved in tourism development in the land that boasts 13 months of sunshine.

Great Business Keeping Households Clean

Adding to the variety of soap products on the market, the small scale production of liquid and other soaps seems to be making an impact that cannot be ignored by the manufacturing sector. Several businesses have sprung up around the city and in a recent visit to their factories and retail outlets, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, HIDAT ARKEBE finds out what is required in the business of soap-making and what accounts for the success of these cottage industries.

Homecoming March

As the first National Diaspora Day looms, pertinent questions revolve around the various ways in which Ethiopians living outside of the country contribute to its economic development. While formal remittances are easily counted, it is known that significant sums are sent home to relatives informally. Despite investment incentives, more needs to be done to attract diversified investment and to make it viable for desiring Ethiopians in the Diaspora to return home. These are some of the issues explored by FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, LUCY KASSA as she discusses Diaspora engagement initiatives and plans for the approaching five days of activity from August 12 to 15, 2015.

Weaving the Yarn Around GTP II

Industry everywhere is highly dependent on an enabling environment with availability of the necessary infrastructure and utilities to inspire investor confidence. Yet, as FORTUNE’S STAFF WRITER, BROOK ABDU discovers in talking to manufacturers, this sector is fraught with challenges, and it is not clear how the transformation from its dismal performance in GTP I to its hoped-for performance in GTP II will be realistically achieved.

New Trend in Banking

Wegegan Bank and Bank of Abyssinia have joined the ranks of banks concerned to enhance their capacity to compete internationally and improve service delivery to their customers. Both have contracted the consultancy firm Deloitte to provide consultancy expertise in designing new strategies to manage the changing environment and respond to customer demand. DAWIT ENDESHAW, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, hears from the bankers and their consultants what is required to centralise and modernise banking services.

The Significant Role of Women for Sustainable Development

Of all the visits he could have made, UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon opted to prioritise his visit to the women in micro-enterprise for export. This sends a strong signal about this sector and gender in financing the post-2015 development goals. In talking with women about their varied roles and issues in the production process, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, BROOK ABDU has helped to connect the development dots between women, trade and empowerment in the sustainability equation.

Schools Close, Businesses Open

Summer camps are not only for children. They also provide for parents the answer to their question of how to occupy their children during the long school vacation. They provide new learning, social interaction and fun, creating lasting memories and often forging friendships. FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, HIDAT ARKEBE enters the world of summer camps in Ethiopia and explores not only the interesting programmes they offer but also the business experience of running them.

Custom-Made Coats For A Long Cold Summer

Summer wear in Ethiopia is not light and skimpy as this is the cold, wet season which warrants wearing warmer clothing than the rest of the year. Locally sewn, custom-made summer coats are the latest trend and LUCY KASSA, FORTUNE’S STAFF WRITER explores what this fashion statement means for business as she talks with tailors, designers and retailers of cloth and coats.


Information and Communications Technologies have changed the world and business owners who wish to remain competitive comprise the clientele of website hosting and design entities. FORTUNE’S STAFF WRITER, SNETSEHAY ASSEFA discusses the technical and artistic side of this business with Website developers in Addis Abeba.

Motion Picture Music

As Ethiopia’s film industry matures, increasing attention is being paid to the creation and use of movie scores as an integral aspect of the production. They add to audience enjoyment of the films being viewed and as FORTUNE’S STAFF WRITER, SNETSEHAY ASSEFA discovers, they mean new business opportunities for the country’s musicians

Social media in Fifth National Election Campaigns

Social media can be a boon, particularly when freedom of expression is denied. Though some of the parties that contested last week’s election have social media sites, they can use them more strategically to garner a greater number of votes and to educate the electorate. FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, SNETSEHAY ASSEFA explored the terrain not virtually, but face-to-face with party spokespersons and may follow them all on Twitter after this.

Anatomy of democracy

There are signs and indicators of the potential for a culture of democracy to flourish in Ethiopia. One such sign is
the fact of national elections, along with supporting pillars to protect the credibility of institutional governance. FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, LUCY KASSA is educated on the nature of a culture of democracy in this interview with experts and academicians in the aftermath of last week’s election.

Wall Branding Bombardment

Despite its expense, wall branding is gaining traction and it is more effective than billboards, which have been controversially banned from public property since 2012. As FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, BROOK ABDU discovers from advertisers and their clients, wall branding is increasing but its cost is becoming prohibitive.

Music Schools Boom

Music schools cater to the needs of those pursuing careers in classical music or jazz but more so to those who enjoy playing music as a hobby. While the number of private music schools is growing, LUCY KASSA, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER finds out that they are not lucrative businesses as the requirements for licensing are stringent.


Cosmetics are always in high demand as people like to look, smell and feel good about themselves. As FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, SNETSEHAY ASSEFA visits the cosmetic shops in Piassa, both their owners and customers share details about the dynamism of formal and informal trade in the products of the beauty business.


eddings are not a low-cost affairs nowadays and rentals are bound to feature in the budget, especially when the guest list is long. At this peak wedding season, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, SNETSEHAY ASSEFA is enlightened by those in the rental business about the costs of wedding rental services they provide.


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