Ethiopia awakens.

Position:Per capita income to rise

Ethiopia has the second largest consumer base in the Africa Mid-East region (after Nigeria). The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that in 2007 per capita income will grow by us$35.54 to us$893 making Ethiopia one of the poorest countries in the world. Citing a 2000 household survey in a September 2005 review of the economy, the World Bank reported that 44 percent of the population could not meet basic survival needs.

Additionally, the country is in the grip of a severe five year drought that creates a critical food shortage, especially in rural areas where 85 percent of the population lives-according to the Population Reference Bureau (PRB).

What, then, would be the rationale for taking a detailed look at Ethiopia as a "market" for anything?

The short answer is: Potential. The major factor is Ethiopia's 77-million consumer base. A second important factor is the country's abundant natural resources. A third factor is that Ethiopia is one of the world's oldest continuous civilizations with a cohesiveness-that goes back thousands of years. This cultural homogeneity means that developmental marketing efforts can more easily be replicated throughout the country. But considering the extreme nature of economic and social environment, are even such trial efforts realistic?

There is a budding consensus that supports a very cautious, 'Yes.'

On May 4, 2006, Business in Africa (Johannesburg) said the Ethiopian government was targeting "double digit" GDP growth. IMF statistics show the average annual growth rate for Ethiopian GDP from 2004 through...

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