Entrepreneurship in Ethiopia

October 30, 2009

Martin Savidge, Ethiopian businessman Ermyas Amelga and economics professor Phillip LeBel discuss how easy it is to do business in Ethiopia, who’s investing and what this means as Ethiopia moves from an agrarian society to a more urban society. The entrenched poverty hinders the robust investment environment, saddling the country with drought, food shortages and inadequate infrastructure.

Some highlights from the show:
* Ethiopia is not a resource-based economy. The sectors that are thriving in Ethiopia are real estate, construction, services, manufacturing, textiles and commercial agriculture with arable land leasing
* A growing population topping 80 million people make Ethiopia a strong consumer society
* Major investors in Ethiopia: China, India, Turkey and Egypt — the U.S. is not a major investor
* Ethiopia’s poverty-stricken image and government-controlled electronic communications and the Internet are potential hurdles to foreign investment
* Ethiopia’s Diaspora community is driving Ethiopia’s real estate boom

Martin Savidge hosts the following guests:
Ermyas Amelga is an Ethiopian businessman based in Addis Ababa. In 1996, he returned to Ethiopia after academic training and working in investment banking in the U.S. He has founded or acquired 11 companies, overseeing more than 2000 employees in the mining, oil, agriculture and financial services sectors. Ermyas also consults investors on entering the Ethiopian market.

Phillip LeBel is an economist and business professor at Montclair State University in New Jersey. He specializes in economics of developing countries, with emphasis on Sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia. This Spring, he was a Fulbright senior fellow in Addis Ababa teaching natural resources economics. He has consulted for USAID, the World Bank, UNESCO, WHO, FAO and the U.S. State Department on various subjects pertaining to economic policy issues.

For more coverage on Ethiopia, watch Worldfocus’ signature videos on the coffee industry, a remote village and Ethiopia’s history and beauty. Watch the PBS Wide Angle film “The Market Maker” about one woman who has created a commodities exchange and revolutionized agricultural distribution in the country.

Host: Martin Savidge
Producers: Lisa Biagiotti and Ben Piven