How Attractive Is Ethiopia To Young Professionals?

young ethiopians

Either by choice or circumstance, people find themselves relocating from one country to another. So often, we hear jaw-dropping statistics of xyz millions of Africans living and working in North America, with no faces to these stories. But beyond crossing the Atlantic Ocean for greener pasture, how is the situation with Africans crossing borders within the same region or continent, to set up or take-up new business opportunities?

VENTURES AFRICA – In March last year, I started this interesting series of “Relocating to Another African Country for Work“. The first article featured two young African professionals, Kathleen and Nicolas-Patience, who relocated to Nigeria and South Africa, respectively, for work.

In this new feature, Ethiopia is the center of focus! With news of how the once poverty ridden country is growing fast to become Africa’s lion economy, many people are adjusting their business lens to focus on the country. As BBC Africa once reported, modernity might have brought with it some interesting new job opportunities to Africa’s fastest growing non-oil economy.

BUT, how attractive is this country to young professionals from other African countries? I’m excited to chat with Gamu and Chernor, who relocated from two distinct countries to work in Addis Ababa.

The goalof this interview is to share first-hand experience of what it means to work out of another African country. Hopefully, this will inspire more young professionals to seek opportunities within borders and explore the rich work experiences that might exist within the continent. Yup, lets make the trend of relocating to another African country for work more attractive!

Chat with Gamu Tagwireyi, Zimbabwean

What do you do for a living?

Gamu: Child Protection Specialist. I support programs on Law Reform on Child Rights in Africa.

What is your country of origin?

Gamu: The Republic of Zimbabwe

How long have you lived in your present country? And why did you move here?

Gamu: I have lived here for 8 months. I moved to Ethiopia for career development strategy because this is home to the African Union, and other major UN agencies. The country is safe, and cost of living it generally reasonable.

What do you like most about this country?

Gamu: The terrain, the rich culture and heritage. The diversity of its people. The cosmopolitan features of the caipital city Addis Ababa. The food, security and economic development.

How will you describe the business and leisure environment?

Gamu: The business and leisure environment has grown considerably in the past five years. Many locals now own current and innovative businesses that serve the Ethiopian people.

Does $1 have more value here or in your country of origin? Give an example of what it can buy in both countries.

Gamu: Coming from Zimbabwe where the dollarisation process has led to the distorted values of the US dollar, the US dollar has more value in Ethiopia. In Zimbabwe, $1 will buy candy for a child, maybe half a loaf of bread. In Ethiopia it can buy basic breakfast ingredients. bread, milk and 3 eggs.

What are you not so impressed about in this country?

Gamu: The way foreigners and expartriates can be treated. Prices are not regulated and so prices escalate because you are a forgeigner. A foreigner is most likely to be charged double sometimes tripple the price than a local. The high taxes are prohibitive to the development of the people. While I assert that the governments need some form of revenue, the tax rates in this country tend to be inimical to development. The health sector needs a lot of developing to meet international and regional standards. A lot still need to be done in that area too.

What are the shared values you see between here and your country?

Gamu: The value of family, career and safety of the people.

What other African country do you think you will like to live in near future and why?

Gamu: I would love to stay in Mauritius, The Gambia or Sierra Le one All countries are rich in culture and strategically important for my career too.

Name two of your favorite public spots here? On non-work days, where is someone most likely to find you aside your house?

Gamu: I love any Kaldis, gives me a good joll of coffee, hot chocolate and food. I would visit the Entoto once again, it was so captivating. I am have a plan to go out of Addis and experience the country side in the next weeks to come.

Will you recommend that other young professionals seek out opportunities here? Why?

Gamu: Of course. Addis Ababa is the political, social and economic capital of Africa. There is great opportunities to learn, expand, network here. Many development agencies and international organisations are setting up offices in Addis. It has a diverse culutre, or non profit experts, economists, diplmomats, politicians. Theres a lot to learn from this country. It is definitely a place that can make you develop and make a head start to your career.

Say something in the local language (and share what it means)

Gamu: ”Shanda nesimba kuti ubudirire” a Shona saying meaning work hard so you can be successful.

 

Chat with Chernor Bah, Sierra Leonean

What do you do for a living?

Chernor: I work for Nike Foundation as a brand manager.

What is your country of origin?

Chernor: Sierra Leone

How long have you lived in Ethiopia? And why did you move here?

Chernor: Eleven months. For work…to start a project.

What do you like most about Addis?

Chernor: The organized chaos and the fact that there is an active night life. And the people are generally meek and nice.

How will you describe the business and leisure environment?

Chernor: One of the things about ET is the gap between the haves and the have-nots. It is very evident in the night life, and the leisure life. I kind of think sometimes that I inhabit the intersection of that. I’m interested in seeing where the poor people hangout, which is a lot of fun. The country has a lot of diversity; there is always something going on here. You can always have fun if you want.

But the business environment is very closed. It is still a very command economy, so there is not a lot of entrepreneurship. There are opportunities that I see on a daily basis but nobody is actually taking advantage of them. It is just overwhelming.

Does $1 have more value here or in your country of origin? Give an example of what it can buy in both countries.

Chernor: A dollar probably has more value in my country than here. In Ethiopia, a dollar can buy you bread. It can buy you coke, depending on where you are. It can also buy you a cup of tea/coffee, which is huge here. In Sierra Leone, one dollar is 4,000 leone. It is a lot of money. A family can cook on that.

What are you not so impressed about in Ethiopia?

Chernor: Conformity. Ethiopians are slow. They follow too many rules. It is a closed society. I’m disappointed by mostly young people who are smart but who see Ethiopia as the world and whose perspective are mostly in a cocoon.

What are the shared values you see between here and your country?

Chernor: Family! There is respect for family, there is respect for food, and there is respect for communion- eating together in one plate. It is a very conservative society as well in terms of relationship. There is a shared value of marriage.

What other African country do you think you will like to live in near future and why?

Chernor: I’m fascinated by Botswana because of parallel between them and a small country like Sierra Leone. I do like Ghana. I’ll love to spend some time there. I have never been to South Africa. It remains an enigma. It has a unique history… I’ll love to experience the progress or lack of in its relations.

Name two of your favorite public spots here? On non-work days, where is someone most likely to find you aside your house?

Chernor: Bole Rock… and Radison Blu
Will you recommend that other young professionals seek out opportunities here? Why?

Chernor: Ethiopia is a very diverse country. It is an interesting experiment between a government that is progressive economically but politically questionable. Ethiopians are beautiful people, very dignified, with a history that they a very proud of. It is also one of the few countries in the world where the perceptions of outsiders are so different from the perception of the people themselves of themselves. Life is good here. It is safe.

Say something in the local language, Amharic (and share what it means)

Chernor: Betam amesegenallo, meaning thank you very much.