Ethiopia Background
Ethiopia, the landlocked state in the Horn of Africa, is one of the oldest countries in the world. Officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, it is the second most populous nation in Africa with over 90 million people and the tenth largest by area.
Ethiopia has been an independent country since ancient times, and one of only two countries that has retained its independence.  A monarchical state for most of its history, the Ethiopian dynasty traces its roots to the 10th century BC.  Besides being an ancient country, Ethiopia is one of the oldest sites of human existence known to scientists today – having yielded some of humanity’s oldest traces, it may be the place where Homo sapiens first set out for the Middle East and points beyond.  It was one of only three African members of the League of Nations, and after a brief period of Italian occupation, Ethiopia became a charter member of the United Nations.  The capital, Addis Ababa became the location of several international organizations focused on Africa. The Modern Ethiopian state, and its current borders, are a result of significant territorial reduction in the north and expansion in the south, toward its present borders, owing to several migrations and commercial integration as well as conquests, particularly by Emperor Menelik II and Ras Gobena. In 1974, the dynasty led by Haile Selassie was overthrown as civil wars intensified. Since then, Ethiopia has been a secular state with a variety of governmental systems. Today, Addis Ababa is still the site of the headquarters of the African Union and UNECA. It has the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Africa.
Ethiopia has some of Africa’s highest mountains as well as some of the world’s lowest points below sea level. The largest cave in Africa is located in Ethiopia at Sof Omar and the country’s northernmost area at Dallol is one of the hottest places year-round anywhere on Earth. Ethiopia is the source of over 85% of the total Nile waters flow but it underwent a series of tragic famines in the 1980s, exacerbated by adverse geopolitics and civil wars.
There are altogether around 80 different ethnic groups in Ethiopia today, with the two largest being the Oromo and the Amhara, both of which speak Afro-Asiatic languages. Currently, Ethiopia is the top coffee and honey-producing country in Africa, and home to the largest livestock population in Africa.
In the period around the overthrow of the monarchy, Ethiopia devolved into one of the poorest countries on earth. Slowly, however, the country has begun to recover, and today the Ethiopian economy is one of the fastest growing in Africa and it is a regional powerhouse in east Africa.
Although one of the poorest countries in the world, Ethiopia has been relatively benign politically (compared to most of sub-Saharan Africa), with a lack of military coups and a stable political regime. Notable exceptions of military action are the war with Eritrea in the late 1990′s which has since ceased with a fragile truce as the demarcation of the border is still contested with UN involvement.
As with many of the poorer African states, agriculture is the dominant industry – accounting for almost 41% of the GDP. The principal crops include coffee, maize, pulses, and sugar cane. Ethiopia is said to have one of the fastest growing economies in the world and was the fastest growing non-oil dependant African nation in 2007 although the 2008 drought has slowed progress.
General Fact
Approx. 90m
Addis Ababa
1,112,000 square kilometers (472,000 sq. miles)
Ethiopian Birr, made up of 100 cents
GMT + 2
Ethiopia uses the Julian calendar which divides the year in 12 months of 30 days each, with the remaining five (or six days in a leap year) constituting the short 13th month of “pagume”. In Greek pagume means “Additional”. The Ethiopian New Year commences on the 10th or 11th of September every year.
The election for a 548 member constituent assembly was held in June 1994. This assembly adopted the constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in December 1994. Elections for the first parliament were held in 1995 and the government was installed in August of that year.
Head of State
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn (since September 2012).
Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia however Ethiopia has more than 80 languages and over 200 dialects. English is often used for business purposes.
Investment in road infrastructure is given a high priority.  The total road network is expected to reach circa 136,000km by 2015.  The road network links Addis Ababa to various parts of Ethiopia and neighbouring countries.
Air Transport
The Ethiopian Airlines (EA), African world class airline, connects the country with over 59 destinations worldwide. EA reaches to more than 20 destinations in Africa, USA and Canada, many European destinations including, London, Paris, Hague, Brussels and Rome, to China and India in Asia and Dubai, Tel Aviv and Jeddah in the Middle East. It provides both passenger and cargo flights in its domestic and international flights. EA has an outstanding safety record. Its modern air cargo terminal is furnished with cold storage to handle perishable products. Ethiopia has 3 international and 18 domestic airports.
Railways and ports
There is a 780km rail service linking Addis to the port of Djibouti (on the Red Sea coast) via the eastern cities of Dire Dawa and Nazareth. There is a plan to build an additional railway line of 2,395km in the next five years. Ethiopia also has access to Port of Berbera in the East, Port Sudan in the north-west and Mombassa in the south. Inland Dry Ports at Mojo and Semara also serve as an import and export cargo hub.
Microwave, satellite, Digital Radio Multi Access System (DMAS), VSAT and UHF connect all regional cities and a number of smaller towns have automatic telephone services. International communications links are maintained through satellite earth stations, fibre optics providing telephone, internet, telex, fax and TV services, digital data transmission, pre and post paid cellular phones and coin booth services.
Power supply
Ethiopia has vast hydropower and promising geothermal energy resources.  The main industrial towns are all connected into the national grid, and electricity is relatively cheap. Electricity generation has improved dramatically and is expected to reach up to 10,000MW in five years time from the current 2,000MW.  The Government has liberalised the sector allowing foreign investors to participate in generating of electric power.
Ethiopia is the world’s 27th largest country. The major portion of Ethiopia lies on the Horn of Africa, which is the easternmost part of the African landmass. Bordering Ethiopia are Sudan and South Sudan to the west, Djibouti and Eritrea to the north, Somalia to the east, and Kenya to the south. Within Ethiopia exists a vast highland complex of mountains and dissected plateaus divided by the Great Rift Valley, which runs generally southwest to northeast and is surrounded by lowlands, steppes, or semi-desert. The great diversity of terrain determines wide variations in climate, soils, natural vegetation, and settlement patterns.
The most famous Ethiopian river is the Blue Nile, which runs a distance of 1,540 kilometres from its source in Lake Tana, to join the White Nile at Khartoum. Other main rivers include the Tekezze (which joins the Nile in the Sudan), the Awash, the Wabe Shabele, the Omo, the Baro and Birbir.
The Gross Domestic Product in 2011 was broken down to:
Agriculture – 41%
Services – 46%
Industry – 13%
Major industrial products: food and beverages, textiles, leather, cement, metal products, paper, plastic products, automotive and tractor assembly, tires, and certain chemicals.
Major agricultural products: coffee, tea, oilseeds, cotton, tobacco, fruits, pepper, sugar cane, fish and livestock.
Major exports: coffee, oilseeds, hides, livestock.
Major imports: machinery and equipment, industrial inputs, pharmaceuticals, chemicals.
Mining in Ethiopia
The mineral sector was opened up to private investors in 1991 with new legislation and the Mineral Operations Regulations in 1994 which helped to create an environment conducive to private investment.  The development of Ethiopia’s mineral wealth is one of the Government’s leading economic objectives which serves as one of the catalysts for the export-orientated development strategy in place. Geological surveys indicate that Ethiopia is endowed with a variety of mineral resources.
Metallic minerals include gold, which is the most developed with a huge potential of exploration. A proven reserve of natural gas, in the amount of 880 billion cubic feet, has been found which is ready for commercial exploration, whilst deposits of platinum (and other PGE), tantalite, iron, copper, lead, zinc, nickel and other base metals do exist. Petroleum and gemstones have also been identified. Industrial and construction minerals such as quartz, feldspar, mica, kyanite, kaolin, talc, chromites, graphite, magnesite, industrial olivine, marble, and granite, potash, rock salt, soda ash, sulphur, silica sand, diatomite and bentonite have been identified and some are under production. Such mineral wealth, in combination with a skilled and highly motivated workforce guarantees a thriving and profitable mining sector. The Mining Proclamation recognises the significant role of private investment in capital formation, technology acquisition and marketing of minerals.
Current mining operations and investments
Gold is considered to be the mineral with the most potential for mining investment and the Government estimates that production could rise to 40 tonnes a year given sufficient investment.
The Legedembi primary gold mine, which has been transferred from public to private ownership, is the largest gold mine, while there are several  mines in the Gambella, Somali, Tigray, Amhara, Gambela, Benishangul and Suothern People’s region. Export of gold provided more than US$ 360 million in 2010. Revenue from gold exports is expected to increase as the price of gold is growing in the international market. Under this background, foreign and local investment is expected to increase.
As a result of the conducive fiscal and legislative environment, the country is now enjoying the participation of both foreign and local investors in exploration and mining. To date the Ministry of Mines and Energy has granted 119 exploration licences of which 86 are foreign and 33 on joint venture basis and 52 mining licences of which 24 are foreign and 17 are on joint venture and 11 locally owned.
The total number of licences issued has reached 171 granted to 86 companies.  These are for gold and base metals, platinum, industrial and construction minerals, notably; potash, diatomite and high quality ceramics raw materials. Intensive exploration programmes are also being conducted for oil and gas, precious stones such as diamonds and sapphires and other gemstones in different parts of the country.
Foreign companies already investing in Ethiopia’s mining sector come from all over the world including the UK, China, South Africa, Canada, USA, Guyana, Italy and Norway. In 2009 foreign investment in the mining sector reached to US$ 1billion.