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October 28, 2009
Worldfocus Radio: Entrepreneurship in Ethiopia

Last year, the Economist magazine slotted Ethiopia as the fourth fastest growing economy in the world, ahead of China. The World Bank report “Doing Business 2010” ranks Ethiopia in the top 10 African nations in terms of the ease of doing business. The Ethiopian government is trying to strengthen local and regional businesses and attract foreign direct investment.

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

For more Worldfocus coverage of Ethiopia, visit our extended coverage page: Ethiopia Past and Present.




Kip up it is very intersting information i get

Thank you


[…] Worldfocus Radio: Entrepreneurship in Ethiopia […]


Dear Martin,

Thank you for your interest in Ethiopia. I enjoyed the discussion; however, Ermyas is rather circumspect because he is scared of stating the facts, given his financial interest in a dictatorial state.

Ethiopia besides being landlocked by choice of the current regime, it has primarily a state and ethnic run economy, where there is no transparency, no political freedom and there is no free market as we know it in the West.

The government monopoly in land, telecommunication, Internet and politics makes it very difficult for those who are not subservient to the political ideology of the regime, which is ethnic polarization of Ethiopia.

I wonder if your future panels could be more diversified which may include the likes of Dr. Berhanu Nega, who is also an economist like Prof. LeBel.

By the way, I was aghast that the issue of property rights was understated, as a roadblock to Ethiopia’s development. Here is a recent press release from our Organization for your records as we see it about the famine and the government.




Hey Ato Tedla, Are you still crying for your dead father that has been almost 19 years since he died? That is awful! No matter how strongly you bark,no matter how much saliva you drop out of your mouth, the camel(EFFORT) will keep going forward and will strengthen its share on the war declared by the Ethiopian people against their enemy; poverty.However, it is your right to cry and step backward with your old and already fed-up, and hatred propaganda that has not any contribution to the people of Ethiopia on their way ahead.




[…] hosts “Entrepreneurship in Ethiopia” October 29, 2009 – Martin Savidge hosts Entrepreneurship in Ethiopia with Ethiopian businessman Ermyas Amelga and economics professor Phillip […]


We can’t discuss about one cash crop, coffee, without seeing the big picture of farming in Ethiopia. Land is owned by the unelected government, Ethiopian farmers are now tenants of the ruling regime TPLF led by Meles Zenawi and his company EFFORT established by stolen aid money twenty five years ago. Go to for detail

Large tracts of land have been also leased for foreign countries or are converted to crops that produce bio energy. When it comes to the small farms of coffee the regime wants to discourage farmers to abandon planting coffee to turn it into large scale coffee farms and it is amazing to see that USAID is part of this project at the expense of poor farmers.

Some farmers switch to other crops like Kat a narcotic crop to support their families. Large areas of Teff farms surrounding Addis Ababa also turned by government to flower farm for European markets by those connected with the regime.

No wonder we are now where we were twenty five years ago and famine is threatening millions of lives again.

In general Ethiopia is run by unaccountable regime who cares less for its people and profit at their expenses. The crisis we witnessed in coffee farms just a tiny fraction of our overall land policy crisis in Ethiopia.

The least we Ethiopians in the diaspora do is to stop the Starbucks and others exploit our people with collaboration with unelected regime in Ethiopia. Those like your guest from Ethiopia today are only interested in making money at the poor farmers expense. We saw on Market Makers program recently that Eleni Gebremedhin working hard on behalf of the regime to collect each sack of coffee to the government stores to be shipped to profit her company called GUNA.

The Bonga and Harar I see on your program has not changed a bit since I saw it more than twenty years ago. Where does the tax revenue go ? Surely used on the race of our rich tyrants to catch up with the world rich and famous. Ethiopia needs real change, democratic and accountable government, until then we say no to Starbucks, no to flower farm and no to misguided USAID.

I appreciate if you give me a chance to participate on your program today.

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