Upcoming Economic Report on Africa to Highlight Ethiopian Industries

Ethiopian shoe factory
Chinese owned shoe factory in Ethiopia

First Consult is conducting a survey on Ethiopia’s leather and coffee sectors which will be used as an input for the United Nations, African Union Economic Report on Africa (ERA) for 2013.

The theme for the new annual report is ‘value addition’ in extractive industries and primary activities such as agriculture. Two exceptions will be the sections on Kenya, which includes a report on the flower sector, and on Ethiopia.

Africa’s fast economic growth in the past decade has not managed to solve major challenges that the continent is facing, such as high unemployment and poverty rates, says Elvis Mtonga, Economic Affairs Officer at the Macroeconomic Analysis Section of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). These problems are rooted mainly on the dependency of African economies on primary economic activities such as agriculture. And this is the reason for choosing such a theme, said Mtonga.

“The report is expected to highlight on how to promote value addition in extractive industries as a way of achieving economic diversification and contribute to the decrease of unemployment and poverty,” he said.

Case studies for the report are ongoing in 10 countries including Ethiopia. Other countries include Zambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria, Cameroon, South Africa, Kenya and Senegal.

The case studies will be mostly on extractive industries such as mining and oil exploration. Countries like Nigeria are included to see if there is value addition. The section on South Africa, where there already is value addition, will see if there is experience sharing with other African countries, says Mtonga.

“We have chosen the coffee and leather sectors as showcases for value addition in Ethiopia, as coffee is Ethiopia’s major export item and leather is one of the priority sectors in which value addition is a trend with Ethiopia exporting finished products,” Ahmed Kellow, managing director of First Consult, told reporters.

Ranking eighth in the world and first in Africa, Ethiopia’s annual coffee production is approximately 280,000tns, almost half of which is consumed domestically, according to a study on the value chain approach to coffee production. The country’s export revenue from leather and leather products in 2011/12 was 832.9 million dollars.

First Consult began conducting the survey around two weeks ago and it is expected to be completed in about a month’s time, according to Ahmed. The firm was given the job by recommendation and prior experience of working with the UNECA, according to Mtonga.

Ahmed Kellow, who has a PhD in finance from Manchester Business School, had been CEO of Ethiopian Airlines from 1994 to 1997. He had also been a manager in state owned enterprises such as Central Printing Press & Paper Converting Company and State Glass & Bottle Company.

The Economic Report on Africa has been published annually since 2000 and previous reports had focused on a variety of issues such as trade potential, unemployment and poverty challenges, capital flows and development financing, diversification of economy and the role of the state in economic transformation.

In 2012, the theme was ‘Unleashing Africa’s Potential as a Pole of Global Growth’. The report has recommended that Africa needed to sustain the present growth momentum for at least another two decades while improving good governance, human capital, infrastructure and technology and increasing regional integration.

The next report is expected to be released in March, 2013.