The times are changing in the Horn of Africa and the larger East Africa region. Ethiopia – once the byword for famine in the region – is now garnering attention from foreign investors. Sitting in the Sheraton Hotel in Addis Adaba, it is hard not to notice the number of private investors from London to Nairobi to Johannesburg passing through and talking about the changing environment and potential of investment in Ethiopia.
Government officials claim an average GDP growth of 10 to 11 percent over the past 7 years. Supporters and critics alike question these figures. International experts, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), suggest that actual growth numbers average 5 to 7 percent. Regardless of which figures are right – both are respectable – the buzz in the street is justified.
All the excitement can overwhelm and confuse the first time visitor. “You hear all the talk and see all the news,” says one private equity investor from the U.S., “but when walking around you do not exactly see where the opportunity [for investment in Ethiopia] is because you still see so much poverty.”
This article is the first of two parts and is for that investor and every other investor wondering about the best opportunities for investment in Ethiopia. Here are my recommendations from number 5 to number 1 in order of potential return. The top two will be covered in next week’s article.