Young Entrepreneurs Forum Members Discuss Digital Transformation in Ethiopia

01.29.2021 | Case Studies | CIPE East Africa Regional Office in Addis Ababa

We asked nine members of the Young Entrepreneurs Forum to tell us what they see as the biggest opportunities and challenges facing digital transformation in Ethiopia. Summaries of their responses:

Mohammed, 20

Technology and Practice Oriented Education

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Q: If you could change any one policy currently affecting businesses or startups in Ethiopia, what policy would you change and why?

  • The first policy I would change is the policies surrounding tax law. If startups are given a tax break for a few years, that would help motivate and encourage startups to expand their work. Additionally, I would change the policy that requires the renting of an office to get a TIN (tax identification number) in order to allow for more inclusion of smaller startup organizations.

Rahel, 24

Entrepreneur (Travel, Communication, and Project Management) 

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Q: What challenges do you foresee for Ethiopia’s digital transformation in the next 2 to 10 years?

  • Access to quality infrastructure. Power plays a big role in any digital transformation.
  • Resistance to adapt to change; a shift in mindset is needed before Ethiopia’s digital transformation will be accepted by most of the population.
  • The quality of implementation of digital transformation experiences; making sure to engage and educate those who may need additional assistance after the implementation of a new digital economy.
  • Lack of financial capabilities to support a new digital economy.
  • Policies and regulations that might hinder the proper launch of any new system.

Samiya, 25

Education Consultant

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Q: What are you doing to help realize your vision for Ethiopia?

  • In my work, I have noticed that there is a gap in information related to startups. The overall technological skills of the population are weak, so that will be a challenge for entrepreneurs in the future as they seek to market their products using the digital economy. Therefore, I have dedicated my time to addressing practical-based learning from kindergarten to higher educational institutions.

Yohannes, 24

Construction Waterproofing

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Q: What do you think are likely to be the greatest challenges for Ethiopia’s digital transformation in the next 2 to 10 years?

  • I believe the greatest challenge will be the acceptance and education surrounding the new digital transformation for both the working class and the greater community.

Lidia, 19

Founder and CEO of LSSYA Online Counseling

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Q: If you could change any one policy that currently affects businesses or startups in Ethiopia, what policy would you change and why?

  • I would say, the need to have an office in order to operate. That policy is hindering a lot of technology startups as they try to progress with their business.

Binyam, 23

Currently working on an Environmental Project  

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Q: What do you think is expected to be the greatest challenge for Ethiopia’s digital transformation in the next 2 to 10 years?

  • I believe people’s willingness to shift toward the digital market will be a challenge for Ethiopia’s digital transformation. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done to increase trust in the digitalization of services, as well as improving income disparities and access to technology.

Aziz, 30

Advertising/Artist management/Marketing/Event Organization

Hawassa, Ethiopia

Q: What do you think will be the greatest challenge for Ethiopia’s digital transformation in the next 2 to 10 years?

  • I believe low awareness regarding digitalization, the availability and affordability of technological materials, and internet connectivity issues will be the biggest challenges for Ethiopia’s digital transformation.

Kibur, 22

Agriculture, Logistics, Supply Chain, Youth unemployment

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Q: If you had 10 minutes to pitch any initiative to AACCSA (Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce & Sectoral Associations), what would you pitch and how would you frame it?

  • I would encourage AACCSA to invest in startups. Since the AACCSA has a membership fee component, an investment in startups can make the AACCSA more sustainable in the long run and foster relationships between startups and the AACCSA early on.

Fahmi, 36

Currently works at a digital innovation company that is building products and services that serve multiple verticals such as EdTech, Pharma, FinTech and Web Development

Addis Ababa

Q: If you could change any one policy that currently affects businesses or startups in Ethiopia, what policy would you change and why?

  • I would change the requirements for business registration, as Ethiopia requires start-ups to have a business license. Expecting a startup to meet the same level of requirements as an established business is highly discouraging in a country where youth unemployment is high.
  • Additionally, looking at the digital economy, as we have seen from the outcome of the pandemic, having an office is not paramount to running a business or even government operations. Therefore, there is no reason to require startups (especially those whose business model is fully based online) to rent an office.
  • Additional policies that need to be changed are increased access to financial services and stronger incubation procedures to nurture growing businesses.