Information and stories about Ethiopia

Food Security in EthiopiaFood security in Ethiopia is largely dependent on climate. This is what makes the 2011 Horn of Africa drought so devastating. The drought left 4.5 million Ethiopians in need of emergency food aid. Another drought in 2017 hit, putting another 8.5 million at-risk of hunger. In efforts to combat Ethiopia’s food insecurity, five organizations are working to provide various forms of food aid.

5 Organizations Working to Improve Food Security in Ethiopia

  1. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
    In recent years, the FAO has been collaborating with the Ethiopian Government to execute the Country Programming Framework (CPF). The CPF is a 5-year program to address crop production, livestock and fisheries, and sustainable natural resource management to combat food insecurity. In the case of crop production, crop productivity per unit of land is low due to pests, diseases, as well as the limited use of crop-boosting technologies. In response, the FAO has promoted the use of crop intensification, diversification and pest management practices.
  2. TechnoServe
    TechnoServe has been working to help Ethiopians increase the production of food and cash-based crops. This work is especially helpful for small landholders who make up 95 percent of Ethiopia’s agricultural GDP. TechnoServe’s impact involves teaching farmers techniques such as intercropping maize with beans to increase productivity. The nonprofit is also aiding forest-coffee producers to gain access to premium markets, which offer higher prices for their products. The coffee grown in the Gabrebeco Forest is not only distinct in taste from other brands, but it also serves as an important source of income for impoverished communities. However, this coffee is often sold as a low-grade bulk product, limiting the economic power of Ethiopians. This Coffee Initiative, however, is estimated to save 150,000 hectares of the forest and allow 10,000 farmers to earn higher incomes, mitigating Ethiopia’s food insecurity.
  3. USAID
    USAID’s Feed the Future initiative which focuses on helping the vulnerable gain access to markets. The plan has three main focuses: growth based food security, helping the vulnerable access markets and implementing economic regulations. To do so, USAID is looking to increase the value of products such as maize, wheat, coffee, sesame, chickpea, honey, potato, livestock and poultry. Feed the Future is also working to kickstart enterprises by providing access to both technical and credit support. Again, USAID’s initiative would not only increase the food supply but also improve the economic status of Ethiopians to purchase food as well.
  4. The Hunger Project
    In efforts to help, the Hunger Project developed the Epicenter Strategy to mobilize Ethiopians so that they may meet their own needs. The Epicenter Strategy involves the establishment of epicenters, a coalition of 5,000 to 15,000 people who work to become leaders and initiate change on a local level. In addition to leadership skills, Ethiopians learn about nutrition, improved farming methods, micro-financing, as well as water and sanitation. Epicenters also provide information on composting and environmentally sound irrigation methods like drip irrigation. All of these will help to improve agricultural output and increase food security.
  5. Farm Africa
    Farm Africa has led several climate-smart based agriculture methods. For instance, many farmers tend to rely on rainfall as a source of water for their crops. However, this method is unreliable given the droughts the nation has faced. In response, Farm Africa has provided small farmers with water lifting motor pumps, giving farmers a year-round supply of water. In addition, droughts decrease the available food supply for livestock. To protect the surrounding land, Farm Africa has also been encouraging the implementation of rangeland management cooperatives. Doing so also helps farmers to work with local government officials to develop long-term resource management plans.

While there is still much more work to be done, each of these organizations has made great strides in addressing food security in Ethiopia.

– Iris Goa
Photo: Pixabay

Top 5 facts about the Neven Subotic FoundationIn Ethiopia, there are more than 61 million people without access to safe water and even more without access to sanitation. Women and children often walk more than three hours to collect water, typically from wells or ponds that they have to share with animals.

Famous Serbian football player, Neven Subotic, has founded the Neven Subotic Foundation that works on projects focused on supplying this basic human right to as many people as possible in Ethiopia. Here are the top five facts about the Neven Subotic Foundation.

Top 5 Facts About the Neven Subotic Foundation

  1. Neven Subotic, together with a handful of volunteers, began the process of giving access to clean water to as many people as possible. This was the beginning of a life-long project that would soon develop into the Neven Subotic Foundation in 2012.
  2. 100 percent of the proceeds the Neven Subotic Foundation raises goes toward water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services. The organization is focused on building wells and sanitary facilities in the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia. The foundation currently has 121 projects in progress and 116 projects have already been realized. As much as 59 wells were built in municipalities. In an effort to provide clean and sanitary water to students, the organization built 57 wells in schools, with sanitary facilities included.
  3. The Foundation recognizes that in many vulnerable communities, girls and young women carry the burden of fetching water every day for their families. This process often takes several hours per day, preventing many girls from attending school. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that the water sources will be safe for drinking and other uses.
  4. There are four steps that the Neven Subotic Foundation utilizes in order to achieve 100 percent WASH.
    • Research. This phase lasts anywhere from six to nine months and involves assessing the most effective solutions for the proposed community or school. The Foundation also utilizes hydrologists and water authorities to locate the ideal spot for a new well.
    • Planning. It can take between nine and 12 months for costs to be analyzed and donations to be procured for the projects. Materials are purchased and teams and technicians are hired for the job.
    • Implementation. The penultimate step lasts between 12 and 15 months. The drilling team drills until they find clean water, a technician installs a pump and the community is trained on sustainable use of the well.
    • Monitoring and reporting. This process can take anywhere from 15 to 18 months. The project leads double check the work three times and the location of the well is accurately logged. Continued discussions are held with the community about the importance, as well as the impact, of these facilities.
  5. The Foundation has more than 6,000 individual donors who play their role in providing clean water access. Thanks to their generous contributions, continued focus is being placed on innovation. For example, the organization has launched a new competition for engineers in which they work to develop solutions for the construction of latrines, in a partnership with SimScale, a simulation company.

The Neven Subotic Foundation not only works to provide 100 percent WASH to the people in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, but the organization also promotes education. When the Foundation builds wells for communities and schools, they are offering opportunities for children — especially girls — to attend school instead of having to walk miles to unsanitary water sources.

– Simone Edwards
Photo: Flickr

Child Marriage in Africa
Child marriage, defined as a situation in which a person is married before the age of 18, is considered to be a violation of fundamental human rights. Child marriage generally affects more girls than boys and has been found to limit educational attainment and work opportunities, result in early pregnancy, lead to social isolation and increase the risk of domestic violence.

Globally, child marriage occurs at the highest rate in sub-Saharan Africa, where four in 10 young women are married before the age of 18. While some African countries have been able to make significant progress in reducing child marriage, overall progress throughout the continent has been slow, making child marriage in Africa a primary concern of UNICEF and other international humanitarian organizations.

Global and Regional Trends

The child marriage rate in sub-Saharan Africa is 10 percent higher than in any other region in the world. These figures vary in various regions, with 30 percent of young women married under the age of 18 in South Asia, 25 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean, 17 percent in the Middle East and North Africa and 11 percent in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Within sub-Saharan Africa, child marriage occurs most frequently in West Africa, where 41 percent of young women are married before 18. This rate is 38 percent in Central Africa, 36 percent in Southern Africa and 34 percent in Eastern Africa.

Regionally, some progress has been made in reducing child marriage in Africa, as the rate in Western Africa was 44 percent in the early 2000s, the rates in Central and Eastern Africa were 42 percent. Only Southern Africa has shown no regional progress, remaining at 36 percent for the past 15 years. These reductions are not occurring quickly enough and UNICEF predicts that child marriage rates will remain above 30 percent in Western and Central Africa and above 20 percent in Eastern and Southern Africa even until 2030.

Age and Gender of Child Marriage in Africa

While a majority of child marriages occur between the ages of 15 and 18, there are many women who were married before the age of 15 as well. In sub-Saharan Africa, 12 percent of young women were either married or in a union prior to being 15 years old.

Data on boys affected by child marriage in Africa is limited, but it is still recognized to be a significant problem in some countries. The Central African Republic has one of the highest rates of child marriage for boys in the world, with 28 percent of young men married by the age of 18. This rate is 13 percent in Madagascar and 12 percent in Comoros.

Progress in African Countries

There are some African countries with low levels of child marriage, however, including Algeria, Djibouti, Eswatini, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa and Tunisia, that all have rates of child marriages under 10 percent. In the early 2000s, only Algeria, Djibouti, Namibia and Tunisia were under 10 percent. Notably, child marriage is the lowest in Tunisia, the country that has a rate of child marriage at 2 percent.

There have also been countries with high child marriage rates that have made significant progress over the last 15 years. Ethiopia had a child marriage rate of 60 percent in the early 2000s, that has since decreased to 40 percent. Zambia decreased their rate from 46 to 31 percent, and Guinea-Bissau decreased its rate from 44 to 24 percent.

Child Marriage in Ethiopia and Tanzania

Ethiopia provides an interesting case study for child marriage in Africa. Research conducted by the Forward UK, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of girls and women in Africa, reveals the cultural beliefs that cause child marriage to remain prevalent. Marrying girls young is a social norm in the nation, and families whose daughters are not married as children are often viewed in a negative light.

In part, this stems from the importance placed on virginity, and many believe that the earlier a girl is married the more likely she is to be a virgin. Girls may also be married to priests, as this is a way for religious leaders to gain respect. Priests must marry virgins, however, and therefore tend to have the youngest brides. Families also often perceive child marriage as a way out of poverty, as they receive a bride price and no longer carry the financial burden of caring for their married daughter. Some families also want to ensure they will have grandchildren before they die.

The organization conducted similar research in Tanzania, where girls may be married as young as 11 and where most marriages are arranged by the girl’s father without consideration of what she wants. Domestic violence is widespread in the nation, greatly impacting the health and wellbeing of child brides. Husbands generally do not have patience with child brides who may be too young to effectively complete the domestic tasks required of them, making them more likely to beat younger wives. Polygamy is also legal in Tanzania, which can negatively impact young brides.

Moving Forward

To effectively reduce child marriage, Forward UK recommends increasing community programs aimed at raising awareness about the negative impacts of child marriage, providing programs that will empower girls, improving girls’ access to education and establishing legal and medical services aimed towards girls and young women.

It remains to be seen whether progress in reducing child marriage in Africa will begin to occur at a faster rate. This progress would have a large impact and could help millions of girls across the continent.

– Sara Olk

Photo: Flickr

Ethiopian PM Turns to Privatization to Further Economic Growth

In a move atypical of his political alignment with the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced in June 2018 that the government will begin procedures to implement privatization in Ethiopia of various state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in telecommunications, energy and transportation.

Already one of the fastest growing economies in the world, Ethiopia hopes to continue this trend by selling shares in some of the country’s most profitable and promising industries. In this announcement, Ahmed proposed that privatization of these booming enterprises will aim to increase foreign direct investment (FDI), lessen the unemployment rate and reduce poverty.

Ethiopia’s Recent Improvements

The second largest country in Africa and home to more than 100 million people, Ethiopia has been experiencing tremendous economic growth in recent years. Unemployment has dropped from more than 26 percent in 1999 to less than 17 percent in 2015. The poverty rate has decreased from nearly 46 percent in 1995 to less than 30 percent in 2010.

While Ahmed has only been in office since April of 2018, his vows to reform Ethiopia economically and socially have surprised many. Since their coming to power in 1991, the EPRDF’s has had a history of complete state-ownership of the majority of the industry. The state, however, will remain in control of the majority of shares in the industries being opened up to foreign investment.

His promises of calming social tension and revamping the economy have been met with some skepticism, but Ahmed fervently retains that his intentions are to restore Ethiopia to a place of social stability, economic prosperity and peace. Ahmed has even gone as far as to reach out to Ethiopia’s long-term enemy, Eritrea, to find common ground.

The Prime Minister’s Plans

Although the government has yet to release detailed plans as to how they intend to implement privatization in Ethiopia, they have been working with consulting agencies abroad such as PwC and McKinsey to determine a practical and sustainable way to carry out an economic overhaul of such magnitude.

Among the SOEs the government plans to privatize, the introduction of Ethiopian Airlines to the private sector, in particular, represents a key component in Ahmed’s economic plan; Ethiopia will experience a shift from an agrarian society to a modern, competitive, industrial society. As the country’s national flag carrier and a symbol of state pride, Ethiopian Airlines has garnered an intake of hard currency (currency unlikely to be affected by inflation) three times that of coffee, a long-standing staple of Ethiopia’s economy.

Increasing Foreign Investment

The privatization of Ethiopian Airlines also indicates Ahmed’s desire to transform Ethiopia into a major air travel hub, similar to Emirates’ position in the United Arab Emirates. This will serve as a way to bring in foreign investors and to present Ethiopia as a modern contender in the world economy. By selling shares of Ethiopian Airlines and other rapidly-growing SOEs such as Ethio Telecom, Ethiopian Electric Power and Railway Corporation, Ahmed hopes to draw foreign investment since Ethiopia has experienced an alarming shortage of foreign exchange in recent years.

While privatization in Ethiopia is sure to be a slow transition, and the government will most likely remain majority shareholders in the enterprises they are selling, the country appears to be heading in a positive direction. Between 2004 and 2014, Ethiopia averaged annual economic growth of 10.9 percent and is projected to grow another 8.7 percent in the next two years.

With a goal of reaching lower-middle income national status by 2025 and a government promising major social and economic reform, Ethiopia has established itself as a nation in the midst of a true revival. Hopefully, Ahmed’s plan of privatization in Ethiopia will prove to be a positive step for the country’s future economic growth.

Rob Lee

Photo: Flickr

The Top 10 Facts about Girls’ Education in Ethiopia
Gender disparity in education and lack of opportunity for girls worldwide create an inequality tide difficult to turn in different direction.

Ethiopia is among the 10 lowest-literacy countries in the world, and the literacy rate for girls is much lower than for boys.

However, the top 10 facts about girls’ education in Ethiopia reveal the efforts of many international and internal projects developing female literacy and expanding the networks connecting education sites.

Research shows that as more gender-sensitive education advances, higher education of women becomes possible, supporting social change, decreasing the gender gap, fostering more female teachers and building self-reliance and self-esteem.

Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Ethiopia

  1. According to UNESCO, one out of three children in sub-Saharan Africa is out of school, and girls are more likely to miss education than boys. Ethiopia follows this grim description, with only 31 percent of the total adolescent population enrolled in secondary education in 2015. Only 47 percent of females aged 15-24 years old are literate, compared to 63 percent of males the same age.
  2. In 2014, completion of the last grade of primary education was slim, with boys completing at 37 percent and girls finishing at 39 percent. These numbers show that girls are more likely to complete primary school once enrolled.
  3. The nation has one of the highest primary school enrollment rates in Africa. Percentage of girls enrollment in primary schools was around 60 percent in 2015, a huge increase from 19 percent of girls who enrolled in the same education level in 1990.
  4. Total government expenditure on education in 2015 was 4.7 percent of GDP and has fallen by more than 1 percent since 2012. The World Bank’s data shows the government is still developing ways to support sustainable education as Ethiopia depends more on its infrastructure.
  5. Socio-cultural factors include poverty and displacement. Often times, the students’ families cannot afford school supplies or afford to live far away from any educational facilities. Refugee families often must prioritize food and shelter above school fees. The organization Girl Up partners with the U.N. to bring solar lamps, supplies and scholarships to Somali refugee girls, also providing safe bathroom facilities for local schools.
  6. The lack of female educators can affect girls’ esteem since there are more men than women teachers in the country. Only 5.2 percent of women continue to tertiary school enrollment, as opposed to almost 11 percent of men. This means fewer women will go on to become professional teachers. In 2012, only 36.7 percent of primary school teachers were female. One-third of female teachers work in grades 1-4 in urban areas, only 11 percent of female teachers for grades 5-8 work in rural areas. Less female teachers exist in areas where girls need them the most.
  7. Global Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education, an act initiated by UNESCO, aims to promote equality in education by working to inspire gender-sensitive teachers and encourage girls to complete higher education. As of 2014, girls’ rates of academic performance increases in entrepreneurship, ITC skills, life skills and comprehensive sex education.
  8. The education gender gap in the Benishangul-Gumuz regional state measures higher than the national average. A project titled Crowdsourcing Girls’ Education cosponsored by the government and the Packard Foundation addresses this specific region. This project aims to empower 1,000 adolescent girls through educational programs. UNESCO also partners with country-wide organizations like the African Union – International Centre for the Education of Girls and Women in Africa (AU/CIEFFA), completing workshops with girls in vulnerable areas. The projects work to prevent gender-related violence at school, teach self-reliance and problem-solving and create safe environments.
  9. The rates of early marriage and pregnancy are higher in rural areas of Ethiopia. Unable to continue school, pregnant girls in rural areas deal with poverty, inequality or discrimination, lack of education and facilities. As of 2013, 57.7 percent of girls were marrying before the legal age of 18. In a survey taken in 2015, 3.7 percent of girls aged 15-19 in rural areas were pregnant, compared to 0.6 percent of girls in urban areas.
  10. In 2011, UNESCO launched the Better Life, Better Future Partnership, pursuing equality through programs including the gender-responsive education projects through a partnership with the HNA group and Hainan Chiang Foundation in China. These projects prioritize education accessible to all and purposefully work against school violence to create safe environments for girls. Spread throughout seven different sub-Saharan countries, the project in Ethiopia works to rebuild three higher learning institutions and 12 upper and secondary schools.

These top 10 facts about girls’ education in Ethiopia illustrate the rates of female illiteracy and school dropout in schools and universities. The discrepancy between opportunities for boys and girls shows the amount of work still needed to close the gender gap.

However, more understanding of the issue leads to the government working with education programs and involving the community. Other beneficial steps include literacy programs and specialized schooling to build esteem for young women. The challenge lies in accessibility, policy and encouraging certain rural communities to embrace girls’ education as essential.

– Hannah Peterson
Photo: Flickr

Displacement in Ethiopia
Hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians are in need of humanitarian aid due to ongoing violence as well as extreme weather conditions.

Causes of Displacement in Ethiopia

According to a recent report cited by Relief Web, “Ethiopia has seen the highest number of people forced to flee their homes within their country in the first half of 2018 [than any other country globally].” Conflict has caused some 1.4 million to flee their homes in search of safety. This has been largely due to new ethnic tensions in Gedeo and West Guji region in southern Ethiopia and ongoing violence in the Oromia-Somali border region.

The areas hosting internally displaced persons in Ethiopia are overcrowded and struggling to satisfy basic needs such as food, water and health care services. The rainy season is also making the problem worse and hindering the humanitarian response.

As a result of the El Niño induced drought between 2015 and 2016, water scarcity has become another key driver of displacement in Ethiopia. Furthermore, in 2017, 5.6 million people in Ethiopia required emergency food assistance. There are also 2.7 million children and pregnant mothers that need supplementary feeding, 9.2 million people need access to safe drinking water and 1.9 million households need livestock support. The Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD) was revised in 2017 to address the growing need for support. The needs in the food sector have been increased to reach a larger number of beneficiaries through the inclusion of 4 million former Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) clients in the HRD. Health and nutrition needs have also increased to address displacement.

Humanitarian Response to Displacement in Ethiopia

Severe drought in South Omo Zone in 2017 resulted in 40,000 livestock casualties. The Ethiopian Red Cross, with support from the Austrian Red Cross, has helped to bring back livestock due to the drought. The organizations distributed 2,100 goats in the worst drought-affected households in this region, with a total of 350 households given six goats each.

The Ethiopian and Austrian Red Cross has also distributed 3,000 moringa plants to the Hamer community in Southern Ethiopia. These drought-resistant and fast-growing trees are able to live in harsh arid environments, which will provide the community with food sources year round. These trees have been used in the past to combat malnutrition, as the seed pods and leaves are consumed as vegetables, and other parts of the trees are used for herbal medicine. Moringa is also used as forage for livestock, which ensures that Ethiopians and their livestock are both fed.

Addressing the Impact of Flooding

Ethiopia was struck by severe flooding in July 2018, affecting 2.5 million people, over 600,000 of whom are expected to be displaced in the northern, north-eastern, central, western, south-western and eastern Ethiopia. The National Disaster Risk Management Commision (NDRMC) has distributed 182 quintals of food baskets in affected areas in response to the flooding. The NDRMC has also distributed 14 cartons of milk and 63 cartons of biscuits, along with 502 nonfood items including kettles and plastic jugs.

Displacement in Ethiopia can be attributed to bad weather such as droughts and floods, as well as the ongoing ethnic tensions in certain regions. Humanitarian support from the NDRMC and Red Cross have tremendously assisted those in need.

– Casey Geier
Photo: Flickr

Ethiopian Airlines
At the 2018 Arabian Travel Awards, Ethiopian Airlines was voted as the “Best African Airline,” a recognition of the carrier’s impressive expansion into new markets over the past decade.

To fuel its growth and Ethiopia’s booming tourism industry, Ethiopian Airlines plans to build a new airport with an annual capacity of 80 million passengers. In addition to connecting Ethiopia to foreign investors and multinational companies, the airline has engaged with impoverished Ethiopians directly by funneling their profits into charitable causes.

In the article below six things to know about Ethiopian Airlines and its impact on economic development in Ethiopia are explained.

Top 6 Things About Ethiopian Airlines

  1. Ethiopia’s location in the Horn of Africa makes it a prime spot for aviation. As a proof for this statement, the number of passengers flown by Ethiopian Airlines tripled from 2008 to 2017. A 2015 United Nations article found that Ethiopian Airlines is Africa’s fastest growing and most profitable passenger and cargo airline. On the cutting edge of innovation, Ethiopian Airlines was the second carrier in the world to operate the Boeing 787 Dreamliner back in 2012. As of now, the carrier serves 101 international and 22 domestic destinations.
  2. Ethiopian Airlines is key for the country’s Vision 2025 framework, under which the government plans to make Addis Ababa the leading manufacturing hub of Africa. The national airline will help Ethiopia achieve Vision 2025 by connecting Ethiopia to China and South America. Last year, the carrier launched flight to Chengdu, China, and in 2018 the Airlines has expanded into Buenos Aires, Chicago and Geneva.
  3. The Airline’s expansive network has helped to transform Ethiopia into a major tourist destination. In 2015, the European Council on Tourism and Trade named Ethiopia the world’s best tourism destination. That same year, 681,000 tourists visited Ethiopia, supporting a tourism industry that makes up 4.5 percent of the country’s GDP and provides more than one million jobs.
  4. Ethiopian Airlines has made environmental protection a pillar of its corporate social responsibility. Under its “Plant one tree for every passenger flown” project, the company will plant nine million trees across different regions of Ethiopia. Moreover, the airline has trained its employees on integrated waste management, hazardous chemical treatment, air quality monitoring and sustainable production. At the Ethiopian Aviation Academy, pilots-in-training can now take a course on the U.N. Environment Sustainable Consumption and Green Economy Program. Erik Solheim, the Head of U.N. Environment, applauded Ethiopian Airlines for raising the bar on environmental responsibility and green business.
  5. Beyond its commitment to a green economy, Ethiopian Airlines uses its planes to deliver educational supplies to impoverished Ethiopians. For example, Ethiopian Airlines partnered with the African Legal Library Project, a nonprofit organization, to transport 40 boxes with 720 law books, as well as 101 e-Readers with over 1,000 books each to Debre Markos University.
  6. The company has also used its resources to deliver medical aid to impoverished Ethiopians. In 2010, Ethiopian Airlines collaborated with Seattle Anesthesia Outreach (SAO) to deliver 12,000 pounds worth of medical supplies, mainly anesthesia equipment to the Black Lion Hospital, the largest hospital in the country. To supplement the delivery of medical supplies, 20 SAO doctors traveled to Ethiopia as part of a humanitarian trip. To this day, Ethiopian Airlines fills empty cargo space in its passenger planes with humanitarian supplies.

Rapid, sustained growth is in the Ethiopian Airlines’s horizon. In May 2018, Ethiopian Airlines accelerated its expansion plans, confirming that it will order 13 additional Boeing 787s and six Airbus A350s. According to the Brookings Institution, the company plans to invest in start-up airlines across Africa.

It bought a minority stake in Malawi Airlines in 2013 and helped relaunch Zambia Airways in January 2018. Looking forward, Ethiopian Airlines plans to jumpstart national carriers in Chad, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea, signaling its desire to connect not only Ethiopia but the whole African continent to the global economy.

– Mark Blekherman

Photo: Flickr

Aviation Industry in Africa
Accounting for just 3 percent of the world’s total travelers, the aviation industry in Africa is poised for tremendous growth as the booming middle-class demand for air travel constantly increases. As governments from various African countries work to grow this industry, they bring opportunities for foreign investment with it as well as economic growth and job creation across industries.

Since Africa has always been known as the world’s poorest continent, the growth of the economy in this sector can bring much-needed improvements to eradicating the poverty of the population.

Key Players

Out of the countries with rapid growth in the aviation industry in Africa, Ethiopia and Kenya have proven determined to make air travel a primary focus on economic improvement.

In the years leading up to Ethiopia’s recent turn to privatization of various industries with the goal of increasing foreign and domestic investment, Ethiopian Airlines, the country’s national flag carrier, has quadrupled its passenger count, detailed plans to vastly expand destinations and announced a massive overhaul of their terminal in Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.

Seeking to enter into the competition of African air travel, Kenya Airways has made a goal to increase its presence within Africa and across the globe. The national flag carrier of Kenya has also followed Ethiopian Airlines’ example and has reopened flights to conflict-plagued Mogadishu, looking to benefit from trade possibilities with Somalia.

Besides Ethiopia and Kenya, various other African countries, seeing the success of these countries and possibilities for themselves are determined to expand their aviation industries, thereby boosting investment and global presence.

Affected Markets

While the effects of growth in the aviation industry in Africa are obvious for that sector, the growth in other markets cannot be understated.

As airlines in Africa become more affordable and plentiful for Africans and connect more diverse destinations for foreigners, the prospects for trans-continental and foreign tourism increase greatly. The more tourism a country can offer, the more workers in that industry are needed which increases job opportunities.

Similarly, as African airlines reach more destinations at more competitive prices, the potential for trade within Africa and abroad are heightened. In the past, airplanes carrying goods for trade have not been able to reach many of their destinations directly. Instead, they need to transfer at one of the larger air travel hubs that are often well out of the way, increasing costs. With increased destinations, a trade will become more profitable, improving the economies of both the country selling and the country buying the goods.

Looking Forward

Airline companies around the world are noticing that Africa is having the most potential for growth in the global aviation industry. With one of the fastest growing tech sectors in the world, a rapidly growing population, large percent of middle-class population and changes in trade policy opening up possibilities for global exports, African demand for air travel will rise exponentially in the coming decades.

If African countries’ governments invest in increasing their national carriers’ fleets and renovate airports, it will not only make air travel more convenient for casual flyers but will also incentivize investors to visit and support local markets.

The aviation industry in Africa is undergoing massive overhauls as governments, investors and citizens realize the value of efficient and forward-thinking air travel. Growth in this market has the potential to have a huge impact on the development of African economies and allow them to compete on the global stage. With the development of economies, a decrease in poverty will surely follow.

– Rob Lee
Photo: Flickr


Five Major Changes Occurring in Ethiopia
Ethiopia has the second largest population in Africa that currently serves as the seat for the African Union. It has a vast history that stretches back to over 2000 years in which kingdoms, monarchies, communism and capitalism have left their footprints.

In recent years the push toward building a strong democratic state with free and fair elections has been a critical question, causing a lot of friction between the ruling party, who has a strong grip on the social, political and economic authority for the past 27 years. This has tarnished the reputation that the government has been trying to create through one of the fastest growing economies in the world with several human rights violations including torture and extrajudicial killing of political dissidents.

The following five major changes occurring in Ethiopia this summer, however, show a different direction that the new leadership is taking with the support of the public through several major reforms.

Five Major Changes Occurring in Ethiopia

  1. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s rise to power and the overwhelming public support he received – When Abiy Ahmed took his position following the sudden resignation of the former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, he took on the responsibility of leading a nation with a double-digit economic growth that was also full of unrest due to protests from groups who felt marginalized by the ruling party. His background was a crucial part of his image among the public, including the fact that he is the country’s first Oromo leader, which is one of the major ethnic groups who has led antigovernment movements protesting the political, economic and cultural marginalization. He came to power through the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), one of the four ethnic parties that make up the ruling the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), but he has gained the support of other ethnic groups who felt marginalized through his unifying rhetoric, which has led to several mass rallies being held across the country to support Mr. Abiy’s reforms.
  2. A three months long state of emergency rule ended two months before it was due to expire – Following Abiy Ahmed’s inauguration, the Ethiopian parliament voted in June to lift the state of emergency that was put in place to curtail the antigovernment movements flaring up across the nation. The state of emergency was precipitated particularly by serious protests centered mainly in the Oromia and Amhara regions, which resulted in the arrest of several hundred.
  3. Political prisoners have been released by the thousandsBy June, more than 300 more political prisoners were released on top of the several thousand who were pardoned the months before, which the government states is aimed at widening the political space. Most of the released prisoners, three of them being foreigners, were charged with acts of “terrorism” when the antigovernment movements reached its highest points, and some of them were awaiting death sentences.
  4. Ethiopia signed a peace deal that ended 21 years of serious conflict with Eritrea – One of the major steps Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took to increase stability in the region and deliver on his promise to bring about peace and unification was to end the long-standing conflict with Eritrea. In June, Prime Minister Abiy announced that the nation is going to honor a deal brokered by the U.N. in 2000 to end the border war that had lasted two years and resulted in the deaths of more than 70,000 people. This has led to one of the most unprecedented and inspiring peace deals signed by Abiy and the Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki and formally ended one of Africa’s longest and toughest conflicts.
  5. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took a historic trip to The U.S to have discussions about the countries new direction with the Ethiopian diaspora community – Given the history of the Ethiopian diaspora (meaning displaced from their homeland), who left their home country due to the dire political environment, it was a historical trip for the new Prime Minister and the community who had been marginalized in political discourse. The leader was welcomed with overwhelming support that reflected unity and hope for the fast-paced reforms he has brought about. When he arrived in D.C last month, cars that sported Ethiopian and Eritrean flags flooded the streets with people from the metropolitan area as well as the influx of people who traveled from all parts of the country to welcome the leader. This shift to hope in the community is significant in making economic, political and social leaps as one of the most untapped resources the nation has.

Following his rise to power, the government has ended the state of emergency, released numerous political prisoners, held public forums with its citizens nationally and reached the diaspora community in The United States. Furthermore, the state of proxy war and hostility the country faced on its borders by Eritrea has been resolved through a peace deal.

This summer has been a time of monumental political change in Ethiopia both nationally and abroad. The five major changes occurring in Ethiopia this summer were launched with the inauguration of the new prime minister Abiy Ahmed, who has gained more public support than arguably any other leader in the country’s long history. Despite the several security issues, the new leadership is facing and carrying out these changes. The public support remains intact, and the country is making efforts towards building a peaceful and prosperous future.

– Bilen Kassie
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in EthiopiaThe Horn of Africa continues to be a part of the world that suffers from food insecurity as a result of drought and conflict. Ethiopia, a core part of this region and its issues, has over 7.8 million people who are food insecure. This is attributed to the cumulative effect of worsening food production over the years and long-lasting regional conflicts that have exacerbated living conditions. The issue is particularly detrimental for the population dependent on subsistence farming and the nomadic community.

The top 10 facts about hunger in Ethiopia listed above cover relevant facts that cover the historical impact of food insecurity and the current challenges.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Ethiopia

  1. Thirty-four years ago the most catastrophic famine hit Ethiopia painting the nation in the image of poverty, drought and hunger in such a huge way that the government to this day works on reversing this perception. However, this proves difficult because three decades had passed from this moment, and the United Nations announced that 15 million people will need food aid in 2015.
  2. The general trend of increase in food insecurity is caused mainly by the weather. Low rainfalls during the past few years have led to disastrous harvests. Even at times when rain returns in some areas, the ramifications of the lack of rain is proving to be a prolonged crisis.
  3. Other elements that contribute to the issue of hunger are also mostly natural factors such as the decrease in land size and quality, animal and plant diseases and the destruction of vegetation and wild products.
  4. There are several actions being taken by governmental and nongovernmental entities to tackle the high level of food insecurity in Ethiopia, that have brought notable progress. These actions include food aid, an increase in productivity and in land cultivated, improvement of seeds and irrigation.
  5. The harsh effects of famine and drought resulting in prolonged periods of food insecurity, especially in the rural areas are directly related to the high level of poverty as more than half of the population lives on less than $1 a day. In addition, considering that 80 percent of the population lives in rural areas where birth rates are high and smallholder farming is the base of the economy, weather changes affect production immensely and the population in these areas is not able to cope with the situation.
  6. The political and economic instability that intricately creates regional conflicts is a huge factor for food insecurity. Although the droughts cause a decrease in food production, it is largely the human factors such as ineffective response to this occurrence that causes famine and starvation.
  7. The prolonged effects that don’t account for the immediate disaster of food insecurity are child malnutrition that causes Ethiopia a loss of 16.5 percent of GDP each year. This is reflected in the fact that 40 percent of children in Ethiopia suffer from stunting. This condition also accounts for 1.1 years less in school education that eventually reduces the workforce.
  8. Aid for the famine and other issues in the country, such as severe droughts in 2016 and 2017 and heavy rainfalls that caused the flooding in 2018, is continuous. Organizations such as the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Food for the Hungry, Relief Society of Tigray and World Vision and USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) aim to support the food-insecure population through long-term development interventions.
  9. Despite the gravity of food insecurity challenges Ethiopia is making an effort to eradicate hunger by addressing the low smallholder farmer productivity through policies that allow big investments in agricultural research and development, especially in the aspects of making improved seeds and breeds available along with better farming practices. Moreover, there have been efforts to give prompt access to high-quality inputs such as effective fertilizers.   
  10. Zero Hunger is one of the United Nation’s Global Goals that is particularly critical for countries like Ethiopia who not only struggle with the challenges of climate change that affect food production but also with political groups working to expand the famine and only offer resettlement as a solution.

Africa has witnessed drastic changes as a result of its fast-growing economies and improved agricultural production that has cut the number of undernourished people in the continent by half. Therefore, despite the hurdles that Ethiopia has faced in the past in meeting food demands, meeting the Sustainable Development Goal, which means the end all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2o3o, is not an unreachable goal.

However, it will require a lot of work in smallholder farmers coping with weather changes such as droughts and flooding augmented by assistance from governmental and nongovernmental entities to bring a long-term solution.

– Bilen Kassie

Photo: Flickr