Population: 84,321,000 (2012 est)
Monetary unit: Birr
Capital city: Addis Adaba
Major languages: Amharic
Major religions: Christian, Islamic
Ethnic composition: -
Age breakdown: -
Life expectancy: Male: (2008) 52.5 years Female: (2008) 57.5 years
Education: (Adult litracy) Male: (2006) 53.3% Female: (2006) 39.3%
Urban/Rural split: Urban: 16.2% Rural: 83.8% (2007)
Income per household (USD): 380
Broadband internet users (%): -
Source: Encyclopedia Britannica
Only 15% of Ethiopia's 91 million people work in any industry other than agriculture, and agriculture accounts for half of the country's total GDP. Yet it is a GDP which has been rising rapidly in recent years: up 7.5% in 2011%, 8% in 2010 and 10% in 2009
This is all the more remarkable when you consider that there is almost no private business in Ethiopia. The state owns all telecommunications, foreign banks are banned, and if you are one of the millions toiling on the sun-parched land the most you can hope for is a long-term tenancy; under the country's constitution the state owns all land
Rapid recent growth has been achieved because it started from a low base – in many Western eyes the country is still synonymous with the famine appeals of the 1980s – and because it has attracted significant foreign investment in textiles, leather, commercial agriculture and manufacturing.
So, there is a PR industry but it is very much in its infancy and this brings many challenges. “There is a real lack human capital to tap into,” says one agency director. “It’s not an industry that is developed yet and thus finding quality resource is difficult. On the positive side, this means that we have an opportunity to shape a new industry and to learn from best practices elsewhere. We’re starting from a fairly zero base and I see huge growth opportunities going forward.”
The government exerts strict control of media in Ethiopia. It owns the only television network - Ethiopian Television (ETV)
– as well as two of the most widely read newspapers: Addis Zemen and Ethiopian Herald.
Yet the number of privately-owned print titles has been growing in recent years and the likes of The Daily Monitor, Addis Admass
, The Reporter
, Addis Fortune
and Amharic Reporter now attract reasonable numbers of readers even if they are almost entirely within the urban elite
Radio really is the most important medium in Ethiopia. For the vast majority of the population it is their only link to the wider world, and so for PR professionals in the country leading stations Radio Fana and AFRO FM are vital targets.
One industry insider says: “In recent years we have seen many more multinationals coming into Ethiopia, and this is providing a boost to the PR industry as a whole. In the past Ethiopia was not an important destination for foreign investment but now we have the likes of Coca-Cola, Heineken, Diageo and other FMCG brands, and the arrival of Emirates airline was also an important step forward.”
Yet it remains the case that for many PR professionals in Ethiopia the most important clients are the NGOs, and the greatest opportunities for media coverage are not about brands within Ethiopia but about Ethiopia in overseas titles.
For example, in October 2012 ONE, a global anti-poverty group co-founded by Bono, took a dozen mum-bloggers from the US and one from the UK to visit schools, farms, health clinics and other sites in Ethiopia that have benefited from development assistance.
On October 11th, which was International Day of the Girl, the group visited an Addis Ababa site run by the Population Council, an organisation that provides girls in urban slums with safe places to learn, prevent pregnancy, avoid HIV, and eventually increase their chances of finding paid work. During their trip, the bloggers posted stories, photos, maps, and more on their blogs, including the Huffington Post.
The global groups have no presence in Ethiopia, and the only two local agencies of any note are 251 Communications and Cactus.