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Ethiopia Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is very likely to merge the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition into a single party before the August 2020 legislative elections. Previously dominant coalition member the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front will probably exit the coalition. The merged EPRDF probably will retain a legislative majority. Ethno-nationalist factions of Ahmed's Oromo Democratic Party (ODP) and the Amhara Democratic Party (ADP) will support local opposition parties, but this is unlikely to break the ODP-ADP alliance: together they control 58% of parliamentary seats. Civil war is unlikely. However, the June assassinations of Amhara regional and federal officials did indicate the military's declining cohesion.The government is committed to transitioning from debt- to equity-based foreign investment to support economic growth – which we forecast to reach 7.7% GDP in 2019 – by privatising state-owned entities in aviation, electricity, and telecommunications. Privatisation is slow because the debt profile of these assets is likely not fully represented on the Treasury's balance sheet. Foreign currency scarcity persists because of an imbalance between high import volumes and lower exports. Export growth remained weak in January–March 2019, at a decline of 7% on the previous quarter, reaching USD678.5 million in total. Imports reached USD3.6 billion. Small and medium-sized businesses face foreign-currency delays of over 90 days, while delayed letter-of-credit payments affect importers. The persistent fiscal imbalance is a key driver of Ethiopia's sovereign credit rating outlooks being lowered to Negative by two rating agencies in September–October 2019. Localised mob violence (involving arson and vandalism) and militia small-arms violence between rival political, ethnic, and security forces groups is likely around adjustments to administrative boundaries, referendums on creating regional states, and during the legislative elections. Rioting poses looting and damage risks against foreign-owned commercial cargo vehicles, coffee farms, and washing stations. Progress towards Eritrea and Ethiopia normalising relations has decreased the risk of interstate war.
Last update: October 16, 2019

Operational Outlook

The most likely targets for government investigations into slow project implementation and misappropriation of funding are state-owned Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC) and state-directed and -owned conglomerates that have benefited from priority access to foreign exchange and more lenient credit provision from state-owned banks. The perceived success of protest movements in 2018 is likely driving increasingly assertive behaviour by unofficial labour groups and "youth activist" gangs, particularly in Oromia, Amhara, Southern Nations, Somali, and Afar. This is likely to be driving strikes at industrial parks, in public transportation and construction, demands for local ownership of projects (particularly during privatisations and contract renewals), and mining site invasions by illegal miners and looters.

Last update: June 28, 2019

Terrorism

High

Across Ethiopia, adjustments to administrative boundaries, the national census, and elections will provoke localised attack risks. In Benishangul-Gumuz, Somali region, western and southern Oromia, northwest Amhara, and southern Afar, armed groups pose sporadic small-arms attack risks to security forces, state-owned assets, local civilians, and road travellers and cargo. Large commercial investments, particularly inside industrial parks, are unlikely to be directly targeted. The Ethiopia-Eritrea rapprochement has decreased risks of cross-border militant raids. Successful Al-Shabaab attacks inside Ethiopia are unlikely, but Ethiopia remains an aspirational target for the group because of the presence of its troops in Somalia. Al-Shabaab attacks would be most likely in the Somali region or Addis Ababa.

Last update: June 28, 2019

Crime

While a growing menace, crime is not a major problem, even in urban areas, and crime levels are low by regional standards. Although violent crime (particularly robbery) has increased in Addis Ababa, most incidents involve edged weapons rather than firearms, limiting death and injury risks. This is despite multiple well-publicised police interceptions of large quantities of smuggled weapons, including into Addis Ababa. Cash-intensive businesses and locals are most likely to be robbery targets, but the risk also extends to expatriates. There will likely be marginal increases in opportunist theft among displaced populations from the drought, particularly around food distribution centres. Organised crime is largely limited to rural banditry (especially on the road from Gondar to Sudan, southern Oromia and the Somali region), bank robberies staged by the armed wing of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), which is particularly active in western and southern Oromia, and human trafficking to neighbouring countries.

Last update: June 28, 2019

War Risks

Interstate war risks have significantly decreased following Eritrea and Ethiopia's July 2018 peace declaration, ending the 18-year 'No peace, no war' stalemate, despite Eritrea's ongoing closure of the border. Although escalation to civil war is unlikely, there is an increasing probability that security forces elements will be drawn into escalating political competition and internal territorial disputes ahead of elections (likely delayed beyond 2020). Covert parallel structures of influence have emerged within the federal and regional state security forces, and Prime Minister Ahmed's ability to effectively command Tigray-based forces is particularly threatened. War with Egypt is unlikely, despite differences over Nile water allocations and the planned Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Last update: August 7, 2019

Social Stability

Very high

Localised mob violence – involving edged weapons, arson, and vandalism – between rival political and ethnic groups will become more frequent and widespread across Ethiopia around the (likely delayed) 2019 local and 2020 legislative elections, national census, and creation of new regional states or districts. Commercial assets will largely not be directly affected (particularly in well-guarded industrial parks), although protests will pose particular risks to banks (looting) and commercial coffee projects in Gedeo, Guji, Segen, and Sidama zones (arson and vandalism). Political competition between ruling and opposition parties will likely intensify (especially in Afar, Amhara, and Oromia), further driving protests. Central Addis Ababa protests will likely be peaceful and tightly controlled by police.

Last update: June 28, 2019

Health Risk

Severe

Vaccinations required to enter the country

Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required if traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission and over one year of age.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Yellow Fever: A vaccine is available for children over the age of one year.

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

Meningococcal Meningitis: For prolonged stays, or in case your travels will put you in close contact with a local population affected by an epidemic of the disease (for children over the age of two years).

Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam) or doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Natural Risks

Very high

The country is affected by extreme climates; both the rainy season which frequently causes flooding, and periods of drought have devastating consequences. Some 7.7 million people are struggling with famine in Ethiopia amid a severe and deadly drought.

Furthermore, Ethiopia is situated in a seismic zone.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Transportation

Elevated

The transportation infrastructure in the country is largely obsolete, insufficient, and degraded. During the rainy season (June to September), a number of roads are not navigable. The danger on highways is worsened by a general lack of adherence to traffic laws, the poor condition of many of the vehicles, and the lack of health facilities. The absence of street lighting and traffic lights makes traveling at night inadvisable. Instigators of traffic accidents are liable to face a fine or prison sentence. Following an accident, one should remain at the site and call the police. In cases of injury to a third party, one is expected to take the victim directly to hospital. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the mortality rate in Ethiopia is one of the highest in the world.

Outside of major cities, travel by road should be undertaken by day in an all-terrain vehicle (4x4), with a driver and preferably in convoy. One should also travel supplied with extra water and fuel. It is advisable to ensure that your vehicle is equipped with replacement parts (spare tire, cables, etc.) as well as telecommunications devices. Individuals should always carry a means of identification (e.g. passport and visa). During travel in the capital, it is advisable to communicate travel arrangements to a trusted confidant.     

Intercity travel via road can prove perilous. Official and unofficial roadblocks are frequent. Furthermore it is recommended to remain vigilant when traveling in isolated regions; cases of armed theft, carjacking, and the presence of bandits have been reported across the country.   

Public transport should be avoided. Taxis may be used provided that they have been ordered via telephone prior to being taken; taxis should not be hailed in the street. There is a railroad between Dire Daouna and Djibouti that has recently been constructed, however it is not advisable to use the rail system. 

The safest means of transport within the country is plane. Ethiopian Airlines provides flights connecting all major cities.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

The west and east of the country experience persistently high temperatures during the summer months. Only the central plateau has a more temperate climate (mild temperatures during the day, cool at night). The rainy season begins in mid-June and lasts until mid-September. Lighter rain is common in March and April.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +251
Police: 1 110 055
Ambulance: 1 613 622

Electricity

Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019