Ethiopia’s tech hopefuls

from BBC News..

By Jonathan Kalan
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

June 27, 2013

When it comes to technology and innovation, Ethiopia appears a long way away from the rest of Africa’s rising “silicon savannahs.”

The most advanced form of banking in Africa’s second most populous country is an ATM – there are no credit cards and no international banking systems.

This makes app stores like Google Play and Apple’s Appstore inaccessible.

Mobile money, which has taken off places like Kenya, has only just arrived, but with significant limitations.

Skype and other VoIP (voice over internet protocol) services are banned for business purposes.

With a lumbering government-owned telecoms monopoly, staggeringly low internet penetration (less than 1% of Ethiopia’s 85m citizens are connected), just 17% mobile penetration, and a very “security conscious” government approach to new technology and services, it’s not the most encouraging environment for small technology start-ups to grow.

Ethiopian children play with a mobile phoneCall me: Only 17% of Ethiopians have access to a mobile phone, lagging behind many of its neighbours

But that doesn’t mean some aren’t trying.

“There are a lot of opportunities for techies in Ethiopia,” claims Markos Lemma, co-founder of iceaddis, Ethiopia’s leading technology hub, accelerator and co-working space.

“The middle class is increasing, the market is growing,” he says.

“Agricultural productivity is increasing, farmers are making more money, and even they are interested in new solutions.”

All change

In recent years Ethiopia has become a model of rising Africa.

From a poster child for poverty and famine in the 1980s to an economy seeing an average 10% growth since 2004, the country is witnessing a remarkable turnaround.

Addis Ababa, the capital, is attracting investment and talent from around the world, and cranes and construction projects are now a hallmark of the city.

Addis AbabaCan we build it: Ethiopia’s rapid growth can be seen in the contruction projects going on across Addis Ababa

Yet much of this growth is from sweeping policy changes, government infrastructure projects, and big donor-driven or private investment programmes.

Iceaddis, which opened its doors in May 2011, is trying to change this.

It has become a home for start-ups, promoting local technology and focusing on young Ethiopian entrepreneurs and individuals interested in ICT, green technology, and the creative industries.

Originally designed as an art gallery by a Swiss architect, it is a striking mash-up of six interlocked shipping containers, located on the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building, Construction and City Development (EiABC) campus, in the heart of the capital.

“In the beginning, we didn’t know what exactly what we were working on,” admits Mr Lemma, one of the four co-founders. “We were just bringing the community together to interact.”

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Link to the entire article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23086014

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2 comments on “Ethiopia’s tech hopefuls

  1. metatrader says:

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    Is it difficult to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast. I’m thinking about
    setting up my own but I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Thanks

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