Ethiopia is a deeply troubled country: it was the site of a major famine in the 1980s, and has a long history of civil and other wars, which have resulted in some former regions now being independent states. It has also had a series of revolutions, and turmoil continues to this day.
In these circumstances, business is – unsurprisingly – difficult, with foreign currency being difficult to access. Despite this, participants generally have successful businesses, with a remarkable consistency in approach and problems:
- Most businesses provide infrastructure type hardware products. Typically, the hardware is sold outside the country, and paid for in hard currency. Warranty and maintenance services have to be provided onshore and billed in local currency – it is very difficult to remit the profits back to HQ, and trapped cash builds up.
- The hardware imports are usually covered by LCs – but these can be expensive (up to 11%), and difficult to obtain. It is also not unusual for their settlement to be late, by up to nine months is one case.
- No international banks operate in the country. This leads to the following issues:
- The local banks often do not speak English, and have a tendency not to turn up for meetings when they have been arranged.
- This often results in a need for face to face meetings, which can be challenging, with current travel restrictions
- There is a need to recruit and maintain local staff to manage the resulting relationships – most treasurers do not like doing this.
- Most processes are...please sign in to continue reading
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