Source: Unless otherwise noted, material in this section has been taken from the UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME (UNDP) Post Report of October, 1992 with certain section updated in February 1997.
Exchange rates: : All prices in this Report are based on the Exchange Rate of Birr 2.07 to US$1.00 which remained stable for a decade. However on 1.10.92 the Birr was devalued to Birr 4.95 = US$1.00 and currently is about Birr 6.30 = US$1.00.
1. Unless otherwise noted, this report has been prepared by the Office of the Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme. It is provided for information purposes only and does not commit the organizations and programmes of the United Nations system in any way.
2. Much of the information in this document is subject to change at short notice. Check rules, regulations and policies.
3. The designations employed and the presentation of the material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country or territory or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers.
I. INTRODUCTION TO THE COUNTRY
History, Politics and Administration
International Organizations and Bilateral Mission Activities
II. TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS
Travel to the Country
Travel in the Country
Telephone and Telegraph Services
III. CURRENCY, CONTROLS, WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Exchange Controls and Banking Facilities
Packing and Shipping Goods
Local Weights and Measures
Hotels and Lodging
Houses and Apartments
Furniture and Equipment
VI. FOOD AND CLOTHING
Education Facilities for Foreign Residents
VIII. OFFICE ACCOMMODATION AND SERVICES
IX. EMPLOYMENT POSSIBILITIES FOR SPOUSES
X. SOCIAL LIFE AND RECREATION
National and Public Holidays
Social Life and Entertainment
Books, Periodicals and Newspapers
XI. BACKGROUND READING
1.1 Ethiopia is situated in the part of north-eastern Africa known as the Horn of Africa, sharing frontiers with the Sudan to the north and west, Djibouti to the north-east, Somalia to the south-east, and Kenya to the south. Since mid-1991, the 1,010 km Red Sea coastline, from the frontier with the Sudan to the frontier with Djibouti, has been administered by Eritrea. Including Eritrea, Ethiopia has a total surface of 1,223,600 square km, extending from latitude 3 degrees to 18 degrees north and from longitude 33 degrees to 48 degrees east.
1.2 The heart of the country is a vast highland plateau, lying at 1,500 - 3,000 metres with some peaks rising to over 4,500 metres. This central massif is divided by the deep Rift Valley which runs from northeast to southwest. To the west, the plateau slopes gently away to the Sudan and to the wide plains of the White Nile basin. To the east, a steep escarpment drops to the torrid plains of the lowlands; farther south, these merge into the great stretch of the Ogaden desert.
1.3 The Ethiopian highlands contribute to three major river systems.
The northern and central parts drain westwards into the Abay, or Blue Nile,
whose source is near Lake Tana, and the Baro, a tributary of the White
Nile; an estimated 90 per cent of the flow of the Nile, measured at Aswan,
originates in Ethiopia. The eastern parts of the plateau drain through
the Awash River, which never reaches the sea and is ultimately absorbed
into a succession of lakes and marshes near the Djibouti border. In the
south, drainage is by the Omo into Lake Turkana and by a number of streams
into the other Rift Valley lakes. In the south-east, the mountains of Arsi,
Bale and Sidamo drain towards Somalia and the Indian Ocean, but only the
Genale or Juba river permanently flows into the sea. Lake Tana, with an
area of 3,600 square kms, is the largest of numerous lakes; most of the
others are found in the Rift Valley, many of them being of volcanic origin.
1.4 Ethiopia has essentially three climatic zones: (a) a cool zone consisting of the central parts of the Western and Eastern section of the high plateaux, and the region around Harar with terrains generally about 2,400 metres, (b) a temperate zone between 1,500 and 2,400 metres, and (c) the hot lowlands below 1,500 metres.
1.5 The climate of the highlands is generally pleasant, without extreme temperatures. In the capital, Addis Ababa, day-time temperatures rarely rise above 26 degrees centigrade (80 degrees Fahrenheit) and rarely fall below 7 degrees centigrade (45 degrees Fahrenheit); the average mean temperature is 17 degrees centigrade (63 degrees Fahrenheit). Sharp drops in temperature occur in the late afternoon, and it is often chilly outdoors in the evening. Night-time temperatures are coldest in December and January, but rarely drop to freezing-point. Addis Ababa can also be chilly during the main rainy season.
1.6 There are two main seasons in the Ethiopian highlands. The dry season ("bega") lasts from October to June, but in central areas, including Addis Ababa, it is interrupted by intermittent rain in February-March (normally referred to as the short rains ("belg"). The main rainy season ("meher" or "keremt") last from July through September; these rains are often heavy and continuous, particularly in the region round Addis Ababa, where rainfall is around 1215 mm annually.
1.7 Precipitation is heaviest in the south-west near Gore where it
reaches 2121 mm a year. Rainfall decreases to the north-east, east and
south-east, to as low as 48 mm in Assab on the Red Sea Coast. Rainfall
is unreliable in many parts of the country, leading to frequent regional
droughts. The areas most frequently affected are eastern parts of Tigray
and Welo, Hararge, and the pastoral lowlands of the east and south. Drought
is recorded in Ethiopia as far back as the early Middle Ages.
1.8 The first national census in May 1984 gave an estimated population, including Eritrea and Assab, of 42.6 million. Ethiopia thus ranks as the third most populous country in Africa (after Nigeria and Egypt). The estimated population in 1992 is 55.1 million, of which 3.5 million are in Eritrea (including Assab). The annual growth rate is estimated to be over 2.9 per cent; the population density is 45 per square km, although there are many regional variations. Some 85 per cent live in rural areas.
1.9 Generally speaking, the distribution of the population has been determined by the topography. The highlands above 2,000 metres are the home of settled ox-plough agriculture. Hoe cultivation is more common in lower areas of the west, but the presence of mosquitos and tsetse fly has restricted farming in many areas. The eastern and southern lowland regions are mainly pastoral, with some scattered rain-fed farming.
1.10 Nearly all the major urban centres are in the highlands. Located almost in the centre of the country, Addis Ababa ("New Flower") is the political and economic capital. Founded just over 100 years ago by Emperor Menelik II, the city spreads over 80 square km at the foot of the Entoto hills; these rise to over 3,000 metres above sea level but most of the city lies between 2,200 and 2,500 metres. The population of 1.4 million people in 1984 Census is thought to have risen to 2.4 million by 1992. Lying at 2,300 metres, Asmara - the capital of Eritrea - with a population of perhaps 350,000 people, was considered to be the second largest city. However, in recent years, there has been growth in lower-lying urban centres, particularly Dire Dawa in the east (1,250 metres above sea level), with a population of perhaps 100,000, Nazareth, 100 km south-east of Addis Ababa (1,620 metres above sea level),with 76,000, and Jimma in the western lowlands with 61,000 inhabitants. The two Red Sea ports of Massawa and Assab, now part of Eritrea, have also become important centres.
1.11 The ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity of Ethiopia is startling. According to the 1984 census, the Oromos represent 30 per cent of the population, spread over a large swathe of territory from Wellega to Hararge, including Shewa, parts of Wollo, Arssi and Bale. The northern highlands are inhabited largely by the Amharas (28 per cent, according to the 1984 census) and the Tigreans (9 per cent), speaking different, though related, languages. The Gurage people (4.3 per cent), mainly living in a region south-west of Addis Ababa, and the Somalis (3.7 per cent), spread over a large area of eastern Ethiopia, are the next most numerous groups. The Afars inhabit large parts of the lowlands in the northeast, while the southern Rift Valley is home to numerous smaller population groups.
1.12 Over 100 languages are spoken in Ethiopia. For the last century,
the official language is Amharic, like Tigrigna derived from ge'ez,
an ancient semitic language now used only in the liturgy of the Ethiopian
Orthodox Church. Amharic and Tigrigna share the same script. Amharic continues
to be the language of public administration and the language of the capital,
but since mid-1991, Oromos, Tigreans, Gurages, Somalis, Afar and other
groups are increasingly using their languages. The most widely spoken foreign
language is English, the language of instruction in secondary schools and
universities and frequently used in both Government institutions and commercial
enterprises. Italian is spoken by some of the urban population in Addis
Ababa and elsewhere, particularly among the older generation. Knowledge
of French is found among a small section of people.
1.13 Christianity and Islam are the two major religions. Although religious observance was not encouraged after the 1974 Revolution, most Ethiopians continued to practice their faiths, and since mid-1991 all obstacles have been removed.
1.14 Christianity was first introduced into Ethiopia in the 4th Century, and Christians are thought to constitute about half of the population. The vast majority of the Christians belong to the Orthodox Church, deeply-rooted in the highlands; its most important celebrations, apart from Christmas and Easter, are "Timkat" (Epiphany) in January and "Maskal" (the Finding of the True Cross by St. Helena) in September.
1.15 Islam was introduced into Ethiopia in the 7th Century, and today more than one-third of the population is thought to be Muslim. While particularly strong in southern, eastern and southeastern regions, mosques and Muslim communities are to be found throughout the country, and there is a significant Muslim population in Addis Ababa.
1.16 Traditional animist religions still prevail among the peoples in the far south and in the south-western foothills, but are losing ground to both Christianity and Islam. A small number of pre-Talmudic Jews known as the "Falashas" were to be found in Gondar, but most have now been re-settled in Israel. Legend has it that they descend from Menelik I, the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, but historically they probably descend from Jewish immigrants who crossed into Ethiopia from either Egypt or Yemen at the beginning of the Christian era.
1.17 There is religious tolerance, and most foreigners will find
facilities for worship in Addis Ababa. There are churches for most Christian
denominations, including Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Church of England, Armenian
and Greek Orthodox, an International Evangelical Church, and Seventh Day
Adventists. The Jewish Faith has a small synagogue. There is a temple for
the Bahai's. There are no temples for Hindus and Buddhists.
History, Politics and Administration
1.18 North-eastern Africa has been a region of population movements since time immemorial. Some 3,000 years ago, Cushitic peoples settled in the north-western part of what is now known as Ethiopia, and over a large part of northern Sudan. Later, a second influx of Semitic people from present-day Yemen colonized the Red Sea coast of Eritrea and gradually penetrated the high plateau imposing their language and customs upon the Cushites. Their ancient capital at Axum became the centre of an important realm.
1.19 In the sixteenth century, after a long series of wars, the Oromos - who formerly inhabited only the extreme south of Ethiopia - moved into the southern central parts of the high plateau, where they settled and mostly discarded their nomadic way of life.
1.20 In 1632, Emperor Fasilidas established a permanent capital in the city of Gondar. However, subsequent emperors were unable to retain control of their extensive empire, and their central authority gradually collapsed. The 19th century dawned on a divided Ethiopia in which the governors of the principal provinces remained nominally subject to the emperors at Gondar, but pursued their own policies and fought their own wars.
1.21 The first significant attempt to unify and modernize Ethiopia was made by Emperor Tewodros II (1855-1868). He moved the capital from Gondar and established his residence at Magdala in the austere central mountains. Besieged in 1868 by a punitive expedition sent by the British Government, Tewodros killed himself and was succeeded by Emperor Yohannes IV (1868 - 1889) whose reforming zeal was frustrated by internal disunity and the threat of invasion from Egypt and the Sudan.
1.22 Emperor Menelik II (1889-1913), supported by the strong-minded Empress Taitu, established Addis Ababa, built the railway from Djibouti as well as the first modern schools and hospitals, introduced the first bank, the first printing press and the first Ethiopian currency and postage stamps. His reign, with the expansion of central authority from the highlands towards the south, southwest and east, laid the foundation of the Ethiopian state as it was to exist for nearly the next 100 years. It also coincided with the scramble by European nations to establish their influence in Africa, and it was in his reign that Eritrea was ceded to Italy. Menelik was succeeded in 1913 by his grandson, who was deposed by a palace coup in 1916. He was replaced by Empress Zewditu, Menelik's daughter, with the assistance of a regent, Ras Teferi Makonnen of Harar. Following a series of power struggles during the 1920s, Ras Teferi established himself as de facto ruler, and when Empress Zewditu died in 1930, he acceded to the throne as Emperor Haile Selassie I.
1.23 Haile Selassie brought Ethiopia into the League of Nations in 1923, and drew up the first written constitution. In 1936, Ethiopia was conquered by Mussolini's forces, and the Emperor went into exile. On the defeat of the Italian forces in Ethiopia by British forces in 1941, the Emperor returned, although Ethiopia was at first regarded by Britain as a conquered Italian colony and was returned to the Emperor's authority only after agreements in 1942 and 1944. The Ogaden remained under British military administration until 1948. Eritrea was administered by the British until 1952, when it was joined with Ethiopia under United Nations auspices in a federative form, with its own parliament and administration. In 1962, it was declared an integral part of the empire and its 14th province, and an insurgency began which was to last nearly 30 years.
1.24 In February 1974, as severe famine affected Welo and Tigray and in an atmosphere of labour and student unrest and military discontent, the Government was overthrown. Until September 1974, a government held office under the nominal authority of the Emperor, until the Armed Forces finally deposed him, dissolved Parliament and established a Provisional Military Administrative Council (PMAC), better known as the "Dergue". After considerable turmoil, particularly from 1976 to 1977, Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam emerged as the country's ruler.
1.25 In December 1974, the PMAC announced a programme under which the entire economy was to be in the hands of the state. All major industrial, financial and commercial companies, including land and extra houses, were nationalized in 1975. Neighbourhood Associations (Kebeles) and Peasant Associations were to implement policy and assist in the administration of town and country respectively. Large estates were confiscated, and the Government embarked on programmes of "villagization" and re-settlement from the Highlands in lowland areas; some 600,000 people were re-settled, mostly unwillingly, before the policy was abandoned in 1986.
1.26 The unpopularity of PMAC policies in rural areas was compounded by the long-standing insurgency of the secessionist Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front (EPLF) and the start of a new revolt by the Tigrayan Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF). An invasion of south-eastern Ethiopia by Somali forces in 1977-78, although pushed back, was a further drain on resources. Despite this, with famine again ravaging large areas in the north, the Workers Party of Ethiopia (WPE) was established in 1984, with Col. Mengistu as Chairman. The People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (PDRE) was founded in 1987, with him as its first President, just as the balance in the two civil wars began to tip inexorably against the central Government. Major successes were achieved by the EPLF in Eritrea from late 1987 onwards, and the TPLF dislodged Government forces from Tigray in 1989. An attempted military coup in May 1989 failed to oust Col. Mengistu, but in February 1990 the port of Massawa was taken by the EPLF and the northern third of the country, with the exception of an enclave around Asmara, was entirely lost to Government control.
1.27 On 28 May 1991, the forces of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), a coalition of opposition groups led by the TPLF, entered Addis Ababa as resistance by Government troops collapsed one week after Col. Mengistu had fled the country. EPLF forces had already taken control of Asmara and the port of Assab.
1.28 A conference on a peaceful and democratic transition in early July, 1991 approved a Transitional Charter, and formed an 87-member Council of Representatives, composed of representatives of numerous ethnic and political movements. The Charter provides for basic human rights, as well as self-determination by all "nationalities" within Ethiopia who so wish. The Council elected Mr. Meles Zenawi, leader of the TPLF, as President of the Transitional Government; the Prime Minister is Mr. Tamrat Layne.
1.29 Although public administration has continued functioning as before, many of the political structures created after the 1974 revolution have ceased to exist. New ethnic, regional and local alignments developed, and many changes took place over the next few years.
1.30 During the July 1991 conference, agreement was reached on Eritrea's
right to self-determination, ending nearly 30 years of civil war. A referendum
in Eritrea in April 1993 established Eritrea as an independent country.
Economic Conditions 1992
1.31 Ethiopia's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was estimated at Birr 11.5 billion (us$5.6 billion) in Financial Year 1991/92. Annual growth during the 1980s was about 2 per cent. Per Capita GNP in 1989 was estimated at US$120.
1.32 Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy; it provides a livelihood for some 90 per cent of the population and accounts for perhaps 45 per cent of GDP and, despite fluctuations in coffee prices, about 70 per cent of exports. Services represent some 40 per cent of GDP and 7 per cent of employment. Manufacturing only contributes 7 per cent of GDP and 3 per cent of employment.
1.33 About 9.5 million hectares, or 8 per cent of land area, is under cultivation at present; about 100,000 hectares are irrigated. Peasant holdings still account for over 90 per cent of crops by area and production. The yield is primarily used by farmers themselves, and only a small proportion of the produce reaches the markets. Since the changes of mid-1991, the State Farms, Production Co-operatives, parastatal marketing organizations and price-control mechanisms established following the 1974 Revolution have changed radically.
1.34 Grain crops (the most important of which is teff, a species endemic to the Ethiopian Highlands) account for some 80 per cent of the area cultivated under major crops, and over a third of the value of total agricultural production. Although drought causes marked fluctuations from year to year, cereals production has remained around the 7.5 million metric tons mark until the exceptionally good rains of 1995 and 1996, which along with increased fertilizer use, increased production to around 11 million tons in 1996.
1.35 Coffee, still accounting for about 70 per cent of exports, is mainly produced in Wollega, Kaffa, Illubabor, Gamo Gofa, Sidamo and Harerge. Other important agricultural products are cotton, sugar cane, oil seeds, vegetables and fruits. Ch'at, a mildly narcotic leaf, is an important cash-crop in Hararge. Ethiopia's livestock population, estimated at more than 70 million cattle, horses, donkeys, sheep, goats and camels, is the largest in Africa. In addition to leather, (16 per cent of exports), canned and frozen meat and livestock on the hoof are exported, mainly to the Arabian peninsula. Fisheries are still insignificant, although the potential of Ethiopia's rivers and lakes is considerable.
1.36 At the beginning of this century, forests covered probably as much as 40 per cent of the Ethiopian highlands and large areas in the lowlands. During the past 40-50 years, however, the forests have been reduced at an alarming rate to only about 4 per cent of the total land area. Reforestation programmes to restore forest cover and to supply fuel wood have been started in many parts of the country, but progress is slow.
1.37 Manufacturing involves processing of agricultural and livestock products, textiles and clothing, construction materials and metal goods, and is mostly publicly-owned. There is, however, an increasing number of small privately-owned businesses.
1.38 Although only a small part of the country is geologically mapped, mineral deposits are probably considerable, including gold, platinum, lead, tungsten, and copper. A large gold mine has come on stream in Sidamo, and official exports of gold trebled to reach perhaps Birr 75 million in the 1990/91 financial year. Exploitable non-metallic deposits include marble, limestone and industrial minerals such as kaolin and silica, while the volcanic deposits of the Danakil Plain contain sulphur, sodium and potassium salts, gypsum, rock salt and potash.
1.39 Petroleum and natural gas occurrences in the east and south-east and extensive geothermal resources in the Rift Valley are not yet exploited. Ethiopia's rivers are its main source of commercial power. The hydro-electric potential is estimated at over 60 billion kwh a year; the capacity installed so far is 1.2 billion kwh, mainly at Fincha in Wellega and on the Awash and Wabe Shebelle rivers.
1.40 Since mid-1991, the TGE has given greater attention to economic
and social development, with an emphasis on the rehabilitation of drought-
and war-affected regions and groups and on the move away from central planning
to a mixed economy.
International organizations and Bilateral Mission Activities
1.41 The Resident Representative of UNDP is also Resident Co-ordinator for the United Nations System's Operational Activities for Development in Ethiopia. Since the 1984-85 famine, the Resident Representative has also chaired the inter-agency Emergency Prevention and Preparedness Group (EPPG)- now the Disaster Management Team (DMT). The UNDP office and the offices of the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) and the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) are all located in the Africa Hall complex which is the Headquarters of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). In addition, there are representative offices of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank (IBRD) and International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is to open an office in 1993.
1.42 Addis Ababa is a major centre for international organizations, notably the headquarters of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), in addition to the ECA. Addis Ababa is also co-host to the International Livestock Centre for Africa (ILCA - recently renamed international Livestock Research Institute - ILRI), the Desert Locust Control Organization of East Africa (DLCO), the All-Africa Leprosy Research and Training Centre (ALERT), and the Association for the Advancement of Agricultural Sciences in Africa (AAASA).
1.43 More than 90 diplomatic delegations from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas, as well as the Holy See, can be found in Addis Ababa. There is a Delegation of the Commission of the European Community (EC) and a country office of the African Development Bank, as well as representatives to OAU of regional and sub-regional groupings and liberation movements.
1.44 Official Development Assistance (ODA) in 1989, both loans and grants amounted to 741.9 million USD (source OECD 1991). This assistance originated from multilateral aid organizations such as the U.N. agencies and the development banks (40.8%) bilateral governmental donors (55.4%) and non-governmental (3.8%). Among the bilateral donors, the largest volume of assistance was recorded from Italy (US$ 94.4 m). The top ranking 4 sectors of foreign assistance to Ethiopia were: Humanitarian aid and relief (19.7%); Industry (18.2%); Energy (14%); and Agriculture (11%).
1.45 Numerous non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have offices
in Addis Ababa, mainly dealing with emergency relief assistance. Most of
them co-ordinate their activities through a grouping known as the Christian
Relief and Development Association.
II. TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS
Travel to the Country
2.1 Ethiopia is well served with international flights from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and other parts of Africa, mainly through its respected and efficient national carrier, Ethiopian Airlines (EAL). EAL maintains jet services with Abidjian, Abu Dhabi, Accra, Aden, Arusha/Kilimanjaro, Athens, Bamako, Beijing, Bombay, Brazzaville, Bujumbura, Cairo, Dakar, Dar-es-Salaam, Djibouti, Douala, Dubai, Entebbe, Frankfurt, Harare, Jeddah, Khartoum, Kigali, Kinshasa, Lagos, Lilongwe, Lome, London, Luanda, Muscat, Nairobi, Ndjamena, Niamey, Ougadougou, Riyadh, Rome and Sana'a. Foreign airlines with scheduled flights include Aeroflot, CAAC, Kenya Airways, Lufthansa and Yemen Airways.
2.2 Cargo ships call at the port of Assab, now in Eritre, on the Red Sea coast, as well as at Djibouti. The bulk of ocean freight for the interior of the country is shipped via Assab which is linked to Addis Ababa by an all-weather road of 861 km. The capacity of the Djibouti-Addis Ababa railway is limited and erratic, but road transportation from Djibouti is improving. unreSome cargo for the north enters via Massawa, also in Eritrea.
2.3 Road crossings to Kenya at Moyale 752 km south of Addis Ababa, to Djibouti through Sardo south-west of Assab, to Somalia and to the Sudan are not much used by private travellers at present.
2.4 "Entry visas" are required for all nationalities except for citizens of Ethiopia and Kenya; they should be obtained, before departure, from Ethiopia's diplomatic representations abroad. Exceptionally, if there is no Ethiopian representation in the traveller's country of origin or departure, a visa may be issued on arrival at Addis Ababa to travellers on business for the United Nations (except to nationals of Somalia and South Africa); at least ten working days advance notice must be given to the office in Addis Ababa of the organization concerned so that arrangements can be made, otherwise the traveller may be denied entry. Those arriving on assignment should take particular care to obtain "Entry Visas", as otherwise entitlements such as identity cards, bank accounts, customs clearance of personal effects may be delayed. Extended delays can occur in converting any other kind of visa (such as "Business", "Tourist" or "Visitor") into "Entry Visa". Without this conversion entitlements cannot be processed.
2.5 Entry visas for Ethiopia are valid for 30 days. UN personnel
coming to take up long term assignments in Ethiopia should apply, as soon
as possible after arrival, for an exit/re-entry visa that entitles them
to remain in the country -and to go abroad and return - for a period of
six months. Newcomers should bring at least 12 passport-size photographs
of each adult family member to be used for various settling-in formalities
(ID cards, driver's licenses, etc.).
Travel in the Country
2.6 EAL operates scheduled flights to some 30 domestic airports in various parts of the country. There is a jet service to Dire Dawa, as well as to Asmara in Eritrea; smaller aircraft serve the lesser destinations. EAL has a good record of punctuality on its international routes, but its domestic air services can vary, particularly during the rainy season, when smaller airfields may be closed by bad weather.
2.7 The schedule of the Ethio-Djibouti railway provides for cargo and passenger service three times a week on the 778 km long route from Addis Ababa to Djibouti, via Nazareth, Awash and Dire Dawa, which takes, in theory, 40-42 hours. However, the service is unreliable and often interrupted by maintenance and other problems.
2.8 The estimated 63,000 commercial vehicles in Ethiopia operate on a network of about 17,000 km all-weather roads and about 35,000 km dry-weather roads. About one-quarter of the all-weather roads is paved, but the condition has deteriorated due to lack of maintenance in recent years. Four-wheel drive vehicles are preferable for travel to most project sites beyond the proximity of Addis Ababa and one or two towns nearby; minor roads can be quite challenging, particularly in the rainy season. Pedestrians and animal-drawn vehicles make caution necessary, particularly when approaching villages. An extensive country bus system exists, but schedules are irregular, and vehicles are old and very crowded.
2.9 Since mid-1991, a Government permit is no longer needed to travel outside the Addis Ababa region. However, it is essential to carry the UN Laissez-Passer or the special Identify Card issued to foreign residents by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The security situation in rural areas, particularly in southern and eastern parts of the country, may change from one month to another, and travel plans are therefore subject to modification at short notice; the UNDP office issues security circulars from time to time, and travellers should seek information from knowledgeable sources before departing on journeys. As a general rule, it is advisable to be off the road well before dark.
2.10 Reasonable hotel accommodation is found in larger towns such as Arba Minch, Awassa, Bahir Dar, Dire Dawa, Gondar, Harar, and Jimma, although standards of maintenance and service vary. Accommodation in the smaller centres varies, and in rural areas tends to be unattractive. Many foreigners take camping equipment along on field trips, but security is a consideration in such cases.
2.11 It can be difficult to obtain diesel outside Addis Ababa, and
even more difficult to obtain gasoline. Travellers should therefore take
jerry cans with an adequate supply for the entire round trip, if possible.
Vehicle spare parts and tyres are rarely available outside Addis Ababa,
and travel to more remote areas should preferably be undertaken with at
least two vehicles. Local authorities are usually helpful in sending messages
by radio or telephone to Addis Ababa in case of breakdown. Some UN system
programmes and projects have outposted offices with their own radio communication
and travellers are advised to obtain information about these.
2.12 The main thoroughfares of Addis Ababa are asphalted and spacious,
but have suffered badly from lack of recent maintenance. Many side streets
are still unpaved, badly-potholed especially during the rainy season, and
wearing on tyres. Drivers and pedestrians frequently ignore traffic lights,
so it is advisable to drive slowly, particularly at night on poorly-lit
streets. The public transportation system in Addis Ababa leaves much to
be desired. Buses are available on the main routes, but do not service
some of the city's residential areas. The best and most expensive taxis,
meant for tourists and visitors, are yellow Mercedes-Benz cars based at
the major hotels operated by National Tour Operation (NTO). They do not
have meters, and the fares must be agreed upon in advance. Residents of
Addis Ababa make extensive use of another type of taxi, painted blue with
a white roof, which cruise the main streets choosing fares among the many
who flag them down. They are shared with other passengers, and are often
over-loaded. The normal fares are reasonable - between Birr 0.35 cents
and Birr 1.00 depending on the distance -but foreigners are advised to
negotiate the price in advance.
2.13 Because of the inadequacies of the local transportation system, a private car is a necessity, particularly for families. Vehicles can be purchased overseas and shipped to Ethiopia, obtained duty-free from suppliers in Addis Ababa (or Djibouti), or bought second-hand from departing UN or embassy personnel. The purchase price of most cars may be lowest overseas, but delivery time could be as long as 3-5 months. In addition to ocean freight charges, handling and transportation charges from the port of Assab to Addis may amount to US$ 500-750. There is a rather steady supply of low-mileage second-hand cars because of the continuous turn-over in the large international community in Addis Ababa, but prices are relatively high. Information on regulations for the importation of cars and on their re-sale can be found in Chapter III, paragraph 3.9.
2.14 As driving in Ethiopia is on the right-hand side, a vehicle with left-hand drive is required. Right-hand drive vehicles are not authorized to be on the roads and as such can not be imported. Fuel consumption is increased by some 25 per cent because of the altitude; diesel is preferred. Most UN personnel choose small or medium models from makes such as Datsun, Fiat, Peugeot, Renault, Toyota and Volvo, which have relatively good servicing facilities. However, Toyota appears to be a more popular brand. Service is also available for Mercedes and Landrovers, but for other less common vehicles it may be necessary to have spare parts flown in. While labour costs for vehicle service are reasonable, spare parts are generally very expensive and sometimes out of stock, so it is advisable to import a supply of basic spares with the vehicle. A four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended if touring within Ethiopia is planned; an extra tyre, jerry-cans, heavy-duty suspension and air-cleaner are useful.
2.15 Premium grade petrol is not available.
2.16 A valid Ethiopian driving license is required, which is obtainable in exchange for a valid overseas driving license, which is retained by the authorities until the Ethiopian license is surrendered, normally upon final departure. It is useful to obtain an international driving license before arrival, as otherwise the national license must be handed in. The application must be accompanied by four photographs and a fee of Birr 17.50. Those not in possession of an overseas license must pass an Ethiopian driving test, which may be both a lengthy and a costly process.
2.17 Private vehicles may be imported into Ethiopia on foreign registration plates, but these must be replaced as soon as possible.
2.18 Third-party vehicle insurance is required by law. Rates vary
with the size and value of the car, but are normally around Birr 70-100
annually. However, in view of the high traffic accident rate in Ethiopia,
it is strongly recommended to arrange for comprehensive coverage, either
through the Ethiopian Insurance Corporation or through an insurance company
abroad. "No claim bonus" certificates from insurance companies abroad are
recognized in Ethiopia and are required to obtain "safe driving" discounts
on local insurance policies. A further discount may be obtained by joining
the group policy arrangements of the ECA Mutual Benefit Association. The
rates for comprehensive coverage for a medium-sized private vehicle range
from Birr 600-800 annually, excluding "no claim" bonuses.
2.19 Air and surface mail services are available with all parts of the world. Airmail normally takes a week or so between Europe and Ethiopia, 7-10 days with North America, and up to 14 days with the rest of the world; the service is quite reliable. Outgoing parcels are subject to certain restrictions on size and must not weight more than 10 kg (22 lbs); those with a value above Birr 25 must be cleared by customs.
2.20 There is no house-to-house delivery, and all mail should therefore
be addressed to a Post Office Box number.
UN Agency Post Office Box Number
UNDP 5580 Addis Ababa
ECA - 3001 Addis Ababa (for official mail)
ECA - 3005 Addis Ababa (for personal mail)
FAO - 5536 Addis Ababa
ILO - 2788 Addis Ababa
UNESCO - 1177 Addis Ababa
UNHCR - 1076 Addis Ababa
UNICEF - 1169 Addis Ababa
World Bank - 5515 Addis Ababa
WHO - 3069 Addis Ababa
Telephone and Telegraph Services
2.21 The telephone service within Addis Ababa is generally satisfactory. International direct dialling abroad is available on most telephone numbers; otherwise the operator service come through with only minor delays. There is direct dialling between Addis Ababa and most major cities in Ethiopia. Reception is good, following the entry into service of a new ground satellite station. There is no direct dialling facility to Eritrea.
2.22 The Ethiopian Telecommunications Authority charges Birr 115
for the installation of a new telephone as well as the transfer of an existing
telephone from one subscriber to the other. The monthly subscription charge
is Birr 9. Local calls are relatively inexpensive. The price of a 3-minute
call to Europe is 23-25 Birr depending on the country, 30 Birr to North
America, and 37.50 Birr to most other parts of the world outside Africa
and the Middle East.
III. CURRENCY, CONTROLS, WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
3.1 The Ethiopian currency is the Birr which is equal to 100 cents. Bank notes in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 Birr and coins of 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents are in circulation.
3.2 The exchange rate of the Ethiopian Birr is linked to the U.S.
dollar and remained stable at 2.07 Birr to the dollar for more than a decade.
However, on 1 October, 1992, the Birr was devalued and made 5 to US$ 1.00
and in early 1997 the exchange rate was about Birr 6.35 per US Dollar
Exchange Controls and Banking Facilities
3.3 There are no restrictions on the import of foreign currency into Ethiopia, but all amounts imported must be listed on a declaration form upon arrival. When leaving the country, short-term visitors may reconvert excess Birr on presentation of this form which should record all bank transactions made during the visit. But actually this is a time consuming affair. Residents, however, cannot reconvert funds without the permission of the National Bank of Ethiopia. Payments in foreign currency to Ethiopian citizens are illegal, and all foreign currency transactions must be conducted through the banking system.
3.4 Residents may take a maximum of 10 Birr per person out of the country when travelling to meet porterage and taxi costs upon return. An airport tax of Birr 20 is payable on departure on international travel and Birr 6 on domestic travel.
3.5 All private banks in Ethiopia were nationalized at the time of the Revolution. All resident UN personnel are required to open Birr accounts with the Government-controlled Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE).
3.6 With the permission of the National Bank, personnel may remit
abroad limited funds from their earnings deposited into their bank account;
such cases are considered individually and after deduction of a reasonable
amount for local living expenses for any given period. On home leave and
for official travel, the Bank also provides foreign currency in travellers
cheques or in cash drawn against a bank account. On final departure from
the country, the balance of Ethiopian currency held in the staff member's
bank account may be converted into foreign currency upon presentation of
evidence to the National Bank as to how the remaining funds were acquired.
The total transfer cannot exceed 50% of the salary earnings including sale
of household goods and personal car.
3.7 There are no quarantine regulations for pets being brought into
the country. However, dogs must have a valid certificate of inoculation
against rabies. A Veterinary certificate of good health and certificate
of vaccination against rabbies are required for import of pets.
Local Weights and Measures
3.8 The metric system is officially in use in Ethiopia, but other
weights and measures are occasionally applied in the rural areas.
3.9 The Ethiopians follow the Julian instead of the Gregorian calendar
and are therefore 7 years and 8 months behind; for instance, September
1992 in the Gregorian calendar corresponds to the Ethiopian month of Meskrem
in the year 1985. The Ethiopian calendar consists of the following 13 months:
Meskrem (New Year): 11 September-10 October;
Tikemt: 11 October-9 November;
Hidar: 10 November-9 December;
Tahsas: 10 December-8 January;
Tir: 9 January-7 February;
Yekatit: 8 February-9 March;
Megabit: 10 March-8 April;
Miyazya: 9 April-8 May;
Ginbot: 9 May-7 June;
Sene: 8 June-7 July;
Hamle: 8 July-6 August;
Nahase: 7 August-5 September;
Pagume: 6-10 September.
The Government's fiscal year runs from 1 Hamle (8 July) to 30 Sene (7 July).
3.10 Ethiopians usually count the hours of the day from sunrise,
that is from 6 a.m. Their reckoning is, therefore, six hours behind Western
usage: 10 a.m. is 4 o'clock in the morning to an Ethiopian, and 3 p.m.
corresponds to 9 o'clock Ethiopian time. Likewise, the hours of the night
commence at 6 p.m.: 10 p.m. is therefore referred to as 4 o'clock at night,
while 2 a.m. is equal to 8 o'clock at night. This can give rise to some
Hotels and Lodging
4.1 There is a range hotels in Addis Ababa. The rates for rooms with
private bath vary considerably so it is worthwhile checking at several
Houses and Apartments
4.2 Following the nationalization of urban land and extra houses in 1975, accommodation for expatriates was only from the Public Housing and Rental Administration of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. This department has established separate housing pools for different organizations and groups employing foreign personnel, such as embassies, UNDP and UN Agencies, ECA, and OAU. Each of these bodies administers the allocation of accommodation within its own pool according to its own rules. Housing regulations have now eased and foreign residents are now allowed to seek housing on the open market.
4.3 The UNDP/Agencies pool caters for all UN personnel except ECA. The allocation of housing in both the ECA and UNDP/Agencies pool is done strictly on a "first come, first served" basis, depending on the date of arrival in Ethiopia. "Reservations" of housing prior to arrival cannot be made.
4.4 Depending on their requirements, staff may have to settle for less than ideal accommodation both in lay-out and location. However, most accommodation in Addis Ababa and its environs is of good standard; virtually, all houses and apartments offer basic modern facilities, including hot and cold running water and electricity. There are no distinct residential areas in Addis Ababa; suitable houses may be found in all parts of the city, although some areas are more popular with foreigners than others. Most houses have pleasant gardens in their own compounds.
4.5 The monthly rent for "Government" apartments ranges from 600 to 1,600 Birr (US$290 - 773). The rent for houses varies from 800 to 3,000 Birr (US$386-1,450). A deposit equal to two months rent must be paid before a new tenant moves into an apartment or a house. Rent payments are made at the end of the month. The lease between the Public Housing and Rental Administration and the tenant must be renewed every year. Rental fees for private houses and apartments are usually higher than the rates charged for government owned accomodation.
4.6 Housing in other parts of Ethiopia is usually of a poorer quality
but also cheaper than in Addis Ababa. The same difficulties and delays
in finding adequate housing occur there as well in greater degree.
Furniture and Equipment
4.7 Virtually all housing for UN personnel is unfurnished. Furniture and appliances must therefore be imported or purchased locally. Many foreign residents buy one or more of the thick woollen carpets produced locally; they come in many different sizes and are both very attractive and durable. Hand-carved wooden chairs with cushions are also popular among the expatriates, but most other locally-made furniture is of mediocre quality. Foreign-made furniture can often be bought second-hand from departing foreigners, but it is normally in short supply and rather expensive. It is therefore advisable for newcomers to bring as much furniture as possible with them.
4.8 Essential electrical appliances such as stoves and refrigerators are available locally, either from department stores or from departing foreigners. But the ones on sale in local stores (duty paid) are very expensive, and the supply from departing expatriates (normally duty free) is somewhat unpredictable. As a result, many newcomers prefer to import their own stove and refrigerator along with their other belongings. Butane gas for cooking is available throughout the year, but shortages do occur. Since there are also electricity cuts, it is recommended to buy combination stoves with both gas burners and electric hot plates.
4.9 Appliances such as washers, dryers, dish washers, polishers, vacuum cleaners, electric heaters, irons, mixers, toasters, coffee percolators, pressure cookers, electric kettles, hair dryers and shavers are rarely available locally and should be imported, if needed.
4.10 Imported cooking utensils, pots and pans, glassware and cutlery are available in local shops, but their quality varies considerably, and prices are higher than if imported directly. The same applies to curtain material, towels, table clothes, bed linen, bedspreads, blankets and pillows. It is therefore recommended to bring as much kitchen equipment and as many textile necessities as possible. Other useful household items not easily found on the local market are, inter alia, reading lamps, mirrors, simple household and car tools, ironing boards, picture hooks for concrete walls, curtain requisites (pleater tape, hooks and rings), shower curtains, and airtight containers for staples such as flour and sugar.
4.11 Some heating may be required in the house during the rainy season.
For apartment dwellers small electric heaters may suffice. Many houses
have open fire places, and it is recommended to buy firewood before the
rainy season, when it is less expensive.
4.12 Voltage is 220 V, 50 cycles A.C., and plugs are of the European type with two round pins. The cost of 100 KWH is close to 15 Birr. Voltage fluctuations do occur and use of stabilisers is recommended on more sophisticated electric equipment. Scheduled cuts in electricity are announced on radio and television, but unscheduled breaks, sometimes for several hours also occur. Rechargeable emergency lamps and a supply of candles should be kept to hand. The charges for water are 0.50 Birr per cubic metre plus a service charge of another 0.50 Birr per month. In some areas of Addis Ababa, there are water supply problems which can take time to fix. Many houses have storage tanks, but it is advisable always to keep some jerry cans with water for emergencies.
4.13 There is no public gas supply, and butane gas is generally used for cooking purposes. Gas cylinders are in short supply. Empty cylinders may be exchanged for full ones at a cost of 16.25 Birr (12.5 kg cylinder) or 19.50 Birr (15 kg cylinder). One cylinder usually lasts an average family of four for 2-3 weeks. The supply of gas is erratic.
4.14 There is no city-wide public sewerage system in any of the cities
in Ethiopia. Cesspools and septic tanks are used in most villas. Garbage
is generally collected once a week by the municipal authorities and burnt
at a dump outside the city limits.
4.15 There is a ready supply of both male and female house servants
in Addis Ababa and elsewhere. Men work mostly as day or night "zebanyas"
(watchmen), gardeners or cooks. Women are normally employed as cooks, nannies,
maids or cleaners. In the majority of cases, servants live out, but many
houses have special quarters for those who choose to live in. Most of the
cooks and maids employed by UN personnel speak some English, while a few
know another foreign languages, such as Italian or French. There are no
fixed wages, but foreigners are normally expected to pay more than locals,
particularly if the servants speak some English and have some experience
with "foreign ways".
4.16 No written contract is required by law, but it is advisable to interview and make an agreement on wages in front of an Ethiopian friend, just as it is recommended that domestic staff sign a receipt for wages received. Days off are by agreement, but in most cases one day off is given each week, and special arrangements are made at the time of Ethiopian feasts and holidays. Domestic staff who have been employed for more than one year are entitled to 2 weeks leave with pay. The employer is further expected to pay the medical expenses of their household help living in, and medical treatment for all full-time employees after 6 months of service. Finally, it is customary to give gratuities on certain occasions such as New Year (11 September) and the most important religious feasts.
4.17 Before hiring household help, proper inquiries should be made
as to their previous service. Written references produced by persons seeking
employment may not always be reliable, and it is prudent to consult at
least one former employer. Servants, particularly those who are to cook
or care for children, should be required to pass a general medical examination
before being hired.
5.1 The requirements of the Government of Ethiopia for international vaccination certificates under the WHO International Sanitary Regulations should be checked prior to travel by consultation with the personnel office of the employing organization. The present immunization requirements for Ethiopia are:
Yellow fever: Vaccination required for arrivals from all countries (except children under 1 year).
Cholera: Vaccination required for travellers arriving within 6 days after leaving or travelling in infected areas.
In addition, the United Nations Medical Service recommends immunization
against typhoid, hepatitis A/B, tetanus, poliomyelitis and, meningitis.
Cases of infectious hepatitis occur among foreigners working in Ethiopia,
and it is rather common in the local community; travellers are therefore
encouraged to take gamma globulin injections immediately prior to their
5.2 International personnel considering an assignment in Ethiopia are advised to consult their physician to ascertain whether the altitude is likely to affect their health. Persons with heart or chronic pulmonary conditions, or high blood pressure, are normally advised not to accept a posting in the Ethiopian highlands, including Addis Ababa.
5.3 Generally speaking, health conditions in Addis Ababa are satisfactory, although the thin highland atmosphere requires some adjustment. Altitudes above 1,800 metres (Addis Ababa, Harar and Asmara) can cause slight dizziness, insomnia, tiredness and shortness of breath, especially during the first few months of assignment. Healthy people normally need a short period for adaptation and then find the climate in the highlands invigorating. Rapid changes of altitude should be avoided, especially by older people. It is advisable to avoid fatigue during the first few days and to rest as much as possible. Changes in temperatures at sunset are abrupt, and care should be taken against sudden chills.
5.4 Addis Ababa is fairly free of the more serious tropical diseases. Malarial mosquitoes are virtually unknown in Addis Ababa, but are found at slightly lower altitudes. Travellers to the surrounding areas, particularly the lowlands of the Rift Valley and other more tropical areas of the country, should take malaria suppressives; chloroquine is recommended and available from the ECA Clinic. Yellow fever, hepatitis A + B, typhoid fever, typhus and other tropical diseases are not uncommon. Bilharzia or snail fever is fairly widespread in the rural areas; it results from bathing in polluted water, and for this reason only one of the Rift Valley lakes (Lake Langano) is considered safe for swimming. The incidence of HIV/AIDS is increasing.
5.5 Rabies is prevalent among dogs in all parts of Ethiopia, and
one must be extremely careful about approaching strange animals. There
are also occasional epidemics of cat distemper. Inoculations of pets at
regular intervals are therefore imperative. To import pets into the country,
they should have valid anti-rabies vaccination certificate.
5.6 Medical facilities are limited.
5.7 There is a small number of hospitals in Addis Ababa; most prominent among them are the Black Lion Hospital. Empress Zewditu Memorial Hospital, Balcha Hospital, St. Paul Hospital and Gandhi Hospital. They are all characterized by an acute shortage of beds, doctors and qualified nurses, incompletely equipped laboratories, inadequate medical supplies and poor maintenance. Some improvements have been made in recent years, but there are still many short-comings. Often excellent medical personnel have poor support services and are therefore struggling against great odds. The Red Cross and some local churches operate clinics in the rural areas in addition to the Government's health centres, but large parts of the rural areas still do not have any health care facilities whatsoever.
5.8 The pharmacies in Addis Ababa and other major towns offer a reasonable, but still limited, supply of common drugs, most of which are imported and therefore rather expensive. Prescription drugs are unlikely to be available and must be purchased abroad.
5.9 The few eye specialists in Addis Ababa are greatly over-worked. Chronic eye disease or eye muscle weakness should be treated before arrival. Simple eye glasses may be obtained locally, but smoked lenses and bifocals are unavailable. It is therefore advisable to bring along one or two sets of spare eye glasses.
5.10 To minimize the risk of amoebic or bacillary dysentery, scrupulous cleanliness of hands and proper care of edibles are necessary. Food handlers in the home should have periodic stool examinations. In restaurants and at social functions, one must insist on well-cooked food and avoid salads as well as milk products. Tap water should be boiled and filtered before drinking (filters are available locally though expensive.
5.11 Fruits and vegetables must be peeled or cooked before eating.
Leafy vegetables may be eaten if the sources are known to be reliable.
However, leafy vegetables that have been freshened only in tap water are
unsafe and should be soaked in an appropriate disinfectant (available locally)
which, while not giving absolute protection, does provide safety from bacterial
diseases. All meat should be thoroughly cooked.
VI. FOOD AND CLOTHING
6.1 The main food of the highland people is a spicy dish called "injera and wot". "Injera" is a thin, large flat bread with a somewhat sour taste, usually made from teff; "wot" is a highly spiced stew prepared with meat, poultry and vegetables - or a combination of all these - and is eaten by hand with the help of piece of the "injera". The main local beverages are "tej" (mead) made from a honey base, "talla" (beer) produced from barley or maize, and "Katikalla" (brandy) made mostly from sorghum.
6.2 The Government operates a special department store called "Victory" for UN and diplomatic personnel and other willing to pay in cash dollars or NT check. Household items, groceries, liquor, clothing, appliances, etc. are normally available there (duty paid), and payment must be made by cheque drawn against the staff members account. The choice is very limited and some of the items may have exceeded their expiry date. In addition, there are several private shops and government-owned stores in Addis Ababa which cater to foreign tastes in food. Common brands of processed and tinned foods are for sale there, but at considerably higher prices than in their countries of origin. A limited range of powdered baby food products (e.g. Cerelac) is found in a few stores; pre-cooked baby food preparations in jars are not available.
6.3 Fresh vegetables such as artichokes, potatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, spinach, peas, beans, onions, asparagus, pepper and radishes are abundant and cheap. Fruits are available in season and include citrus fruits, bananas, water melons, pineapples, mangoes, papayas and grapes. Plums and strawberries can also be found, but they are more expensive than other fruits. On rare occasions, there are imported apples and pears in the Victory Store, but these are very expensive.
6.4 Some grocery stores offer fresh milk, but it should be boiled before use. Canned and powdered milk is sold in many stores and is recommended for younger children. Locally made as well as imported cheese and butter are available, as are eggs.
6.5 There is an ample supply of beef and lamb. Chicken is available, but can be scrawny. Pork is not usually eaten by Ethiopians and is less readily available. All meat must be cooked thoroughly as a safeguard against infection. Fish from nearby lakes and streams (mainly Tilapia and Nile perch) is sold on the local market, but sea food is difficult to come by. It should be remembered that, because of the altitude of Addis Ababa, cooking takes longer than usual, and adjustments have to be made. Pressure cookers are therefore recommended.
6.6 All liquors as well as wines and beer (local and imported) can
be bought in the supermarkets. Locally-produced white and red wines are
6.7 All hotels in Addis Ababa offer non-residents the use of their
dining facilities; in addition, there are some independent restaurants.
These include Chinese, Indian, Italian as well as Middle Eastern restaurants.
A 10% service charge is added to the bill, but the individual waiter is
also normally given a small tip.
6.8 In the highlands there is little variation in daily temperatures throughout the year, and seasonal changes of wardrobe are therefore not necessary. Mornings are generally cool, while midday can be very warm. Evenings are often quite cold, especially during the rainy season. Wraps and sweaters are therefore very useful. In the hotter climate of the lowlands, light clothing is required.
6.9 It is strongly recommended to bring as much personal clothing as possible to Ethiopia. The selection of good quality clothing in the local market is limited, and prices are substantially higher than abroad, as there are restrictions on the commercial importation of textiles. A few good tailors are available in Addis Ababa; however, materials are expensive, and choice is limited.
6.10 Men should bring business suits, sport costs and slacks, and a few wash-and-wear light weight woolens. Light tropical suits can be worn in Addis Ababa during the day. A light top-coat is often useful at night. Sweaters, umbrellas and raincoats are a necessity. Hats are seldom worn in the urban areas. However, when travelling to the warmer regions of the country, light headgear is recommended. Clothing for camping trips and sports is also handy. For the technician in the field, khaki or denim work clothes, work shoes, and sweaters or jackets are advisable.
6.11 Women should bring light suits and dresses as well as skirts. Cottons and silks for midday and sports clothes are also needed. Sweaters over blouses or light dresses are often worn since homes and offices are cool. Light day-time coats, raincoats and umbrellas are frequently needed. A coat, jacket or stole is often used at night, and so are warm robes, nightgowns or pyjamas. All lingerie should be brought. Locally-made stockings are not of the best quality; many colours and sizes over 9 1/2 are not available.
6.12 Good quality shoes are produced locally, but they are relatively expensive. Sturdy walking shoes are recommended as side-walks are few, and the unpaved roadways are hard on shoes. In addition, sneakers and/or tennis shoes are commonly used for sports and other outdoor activities.
6.13 Children's clothing should be brought from home. Children will
need a good supply of sweaters, light wind-breakers, raincoats, rain boots
and warm pyjamas. Long trousers or jeans are recommended for toddlers and
small children. Light clothing for warm weather should also be brought.
Cotton hats or caps should be worn as a protection against the strong sunlight.
Jeans are acceptable for school attire. They are particularly suitable
for play clothes since weather permits outdoor activities most of the year.
6.14 A narrow range of cosmetic products and toilet articles for men and women is sold in the Victory store along with a limited number of baby and child care articles. A couple of hair stylists and barber shops are found in Addis Ababa (e.g. at the Hilton and at May Fair in Ras Makonnen Avenue).
6.15 There are half a dozen dry cleaning shops in Addis Ababa; they
accept all ordinary types of clothes, but do not have the facilities to
dry clean leathers, suede and similar materials. Laundry service is available
in all the major hotels. Shoes can be repaired adequately by local shoemakers.
The Government-owned Ethiopian Household and Office Furniture Enterprise
(ETHOF) and the local branch of Philips offer repair facilities for some
of the most common appliances, but their supply of spare parts is very
7.1 Until the mid-1970s, the illiteracy rate of Ethiopia was among the highest in the world. Following the 1974 Revolution, an ambitious literacy programme benefitted millions of Ethiopians, both children and adults; the adult literacy rate in 1990 was reported to be 66 per cent. The sequence of general education in Ethiopia is six years of primary school, four years of lower secondary school and two years of higher secondary school.
7.2 Addis Ababa University was established in 1950 as a university college, but is now a full-fledged university which confers its own degrees in a wide range of disciplines, and also has a graduate school. The Alemaya College of Agriculture near Harar, founded in 1954 as part of Addis Ababa University, became an independent Agricultural University in 1985.
7.3 In addition, there are 16 junior colleges offering specialized
training in agriculture, technology, trade and commerce, and teacher education.
Seven are in Addis Ababa, and the other nine in provincial towns in various
parts of the country.
Education Facilities for Foreign Residents
7.4 Foreign nationals are not accepted in the public schools of Ethiopia. However, there are quite a few private schools in Addis Ababa specifically for the children of foreign residents:
1) International Community School (ICS): Tel: 71.10.62, 71.08.70, P.O. Box 70282, Addis Ababa. Language of instruction: English. Follows an American curriculum. Covers pre-kindergarten through grade 12 and has been accepted for the International Baccalaureate. School year: early September-mid-June.
2) Sandford School: Tel: 12.52.52 Principal, 55.22.75, P.O. Box 30056, Addis Ababa. Language of instruction : English. Follows a British curriculum. Covers kindergarten through form 12. Year: mid-October to early July.
3) Lycee Franco-Ethiopien: Tel: 55.21.30, 55.21.33 P.O. Box 1496, Addis Ababa. Language of instruction: French. Follows a French curriculum. Covers kindergarten through grade 12. Year: October-June.
4) Bingham Academy: Tel: 13.14.01, P.O. Box 4937, Addis Ababa. Language of instruction : English. Follows an international curriculum drawn up by the sponsors of the school, the Society School fees: Birr 2,200.
5) German Embassy School: Tel: 55.04.33, P.O. Box 1372, Addis Ababa. Language of instruction: German. Follows the curriculum of the Federal Republic of Germany. Covers grades 1-10. Year: September-July. Fees: 1,900 Birr.
6) Indian Community School: Tel: 11.70.66, 12.00.46 Principal, P.O. Box 21499, Addis Ababa. Language of instruction: English. Follows a combined Indian/British curriculum. Covers grades 1-10. Year: April-March with an extended holiday from mid-June to late August. Fees: 450 Birr per year for grades 1-3; 550 Birr for grade 4-6; 650 Birr for grades 7-10.
7) Norwegian Mission School: Tel: 15.94.92, P.O. Box 5540, Addis Ababa. Language of instruction: Norwegian. Follows the school curriculum of Norway. Covers grades 1-9. Year: August-June. Fees: 900 Birr for Scandinavians; 3,900 Birr for all other nationalities.
8) Swedish Community School: Tel: 55.20.70, P.O. Box 44810,
Addis Ababa. Language of instruction: Swedish. Follows the school curriculum
of Sweden. Covers grades 1-9. Year: August-June.
IIX. SOCIAL LIFE AND RECREATION
National and Public Holidays
8.1 The Ethiopian Government observes 13 public holidays in the course of the year. Of these, 9 fall on the same date each year, whereas 4 vary from year to year depending on the position of the moon. The international Christmas Day (25 December) is observed as a holiday by the U.N. System, but not by the Government
Social Life and Entertainment
8.2 Most of the social life in Addis Ababa is centred in private homes because of the relatively limited evening entertainment facilities in the city. Before inviting Ethiopians for dinner, it should be remembered that Wednesdays and Fridays are the days on which many Ethiopian Christians do not eat meat, fowl, eggs or dairy products. Like elsewhere, Muslims in Ethiopia do not eat pork.
8.3 An Ethiopian man takes his father's name as his surname (i.e.
second or family name) but is always known primarily by his own first name.
The equivalent of "Mr." is "Ato"; "Mrs." is "Woizero" (Wzo.), and "Miss"
is "Woizerit" (Wzt.). Therefore, a man called Tesfaye Desta would be referred
to and introduced as "Ato Tesfaye". Women do not change their names on
marriage, but simply take the title "Woizero". For example, if Ato Tesfaye
marries a woman by the name of Almaz Teferra, she will be referred to as
"Woizero Almaz" and not as Mrs. Tesfaye or Mrs. Teferra.
8.4 There are two active women's groups in Addis Ababa. The U.N.
Women's Association (UNWA) organizes monthly meetings and various social
and welfare-oriented activities; its Thrift Shop sells clothing, books
and household items on commission and uses its 20% of the proceeds for
welfare. The International Women's Club (IWC) arranges language lessons
and other group activities such as bridge, keep fit sessions and welfare
8.5 Short-wave radios are considered essential by most foreigners as Ethiopian radio broadcasts in English and French are limited to one hour per day. The Ethiopian Television broadcasts 4-5 hours each evening, mostly in colour; about one third of the broadcasting time is devoted to English language programmes. A technical point to bear in mind is that PAL system TVs and VCRs are required.
8.6 Video tapes are available from several rental shops in Addis Ababa, but exchanges among private individuals are also widespread. The majority of video owners have chosen VHS recorders, but Betamax systems are also found, and both types of video cassettes can be rented. Most video cassettes in circulation have been recorded on PAL or SECAM, but a limited number of NTSC recordings is also available.
8.7 Two large cinemas in Addis Ababa show English language films on a regular basis. Film shows are also organized from time to time by the U.S. Embassy, the British Council, the Alliance Francaise, the Italian Cultural Institute and the German Goethe Institute. Musical concerts are also offered on occasion by these institutions. The English language theatre club and the French community produce two or three plays a year, and people with acting or stage management experience are always welcome.
8.8 The Harar Grill at the Hilton offers music for dancing most evenings
of the week until midnight. The "tukul" (or round house) restaurant at
the Ghion hotel offers Ethiopian food served in a traditional style, with
colourful singing and dancing on Tuesday and Friday evenings. In addition,
there is a small number of night clubs which offer music and entertainment
all evening and night on Fridays and Saturdays. Some of them are located
in the main hotels, while others are independent establishments.
Books, Periodicals and Newspapers
8.9 Book stores catering to foreign customers are few in number in Addis Ababa. They carry a limited supply of English language paperbacks and hard-cover books. International weekly and monthly magazines (e.g. Time, Newsweek, Jeune Afrique) are not available, and neither is English literature for children. Subscribers to European dailies and the international editions of American dailies receive them from 6 to 10 days after their date of issue. There is one English-language daily newspaper, "The Ethiopian Herald", which reflects the Government's position on both domestic and foreign policy issues; it does not provide extensive foreign news coverage. UNDP Ethiopia has now been granted the privilege of having weekly or monthly international publications sent through the UNDP pouch.
8.10 The main library facilities in Addis Ababa are found in the
National Library and in the University. The British Council and the Alliance
Francaise have modest libraries. The ECA library offers a large selection
of books and documents, particularly on African social, economic and political
8.11 A number of tennis courts is found in Addis Ababa, and there is no shortage of tennis partners. It is recommended to bring adequate supplies of special high-altitude tennis balls and extra strings for the racket, as both items are difficult to find locally. Arrangements to play squash can be made at ILCA.
8.12 Football (soccer) is the most popular national sport, and games are held regularly at the National Stadium. Those interested may play at one of the many local amateur clubs. Riding is also a popular sport, and the terrain around Addis Ababa is ideal for it. Horses are relatively inexpensive to buy; prices range from 150 to 400 Birr. Saddles run from 150 Birr second-hand to 500 Birr new. The cost of a groom and maintenance is around 200 Birr per month.
8.13 There are two swimming pools in Addis Ababa, one at the Ghion Hotel and the other at the Hilton. Regular access to the latter requires membership of the Gazebo sports club at a cost of 960 Birr annually. There are no fresh-water swimming facilities close to Addis Ababa, and it is unsafe to swim in waters which are not specifically known to be free from bilharzia.
8.14 The Ethiopia Wildlife and Natural History Society organizes
hikes on week-ends to explore the bird life and the local flora of the
hills and lakes in the Addis Ababa area. The Hash House Harriers meet most
Saturday afternoons to walk, jog or run in the countryside around Addis
Ababa. Hunting and fishing is possible in the Bale mountains and Omo valley,
and fishing at Arba Minch.
8.15 There are many historic sites in the country. In the ancient city of Axum one finds the magnificent monuments of Axumite culture, such as the giant stelae, the ruins of the "Taskha Mariam", palace of the Axumite Kings, and St. Mary of Zion, the most famous of the cathedrals in Ethiopia, with numerous murals depicting important episodes in the religious tradition of the country.
8.16 The historical town of Gondar contains several magnificent castles
and many beautiful churches with ancient paintings of unique design. Nearby
Lake Tana, with its 37 small islands sheltering monasteries with priceless
ecclesiastical treasures, is also well worth a visit. At Lalibela to the
north of Dessie, there are 11 churches of great interest; these monolithic
edifices, carved out of living rock in the 12th and 13th centuries, are
unique in the world. The monasteries of Zuquala and Debre Libanos make
interesting one-day outings from Addis Ababa.
8.17 Week-end excursions from Addis Ababa are very popular. The most common destinations include Lake Langano located 210 km south of Addis Ababa. It is a safe fresh-water lake with a pebble beach suitable for swimming. Camp sites, cottages and a hotel are located there. Hiking, fishing and boating are possible, but boats are not provided. Sodere is a popular week-end spot 125 km south-east of Addis Ababa. It has two outdoor swimming pools, a large hotel, and camping facilities. Crocodiles and hippopotami may be seen in the nearby Awash River.
8.18 Extended week-end visits can be made to the city of Harar 525 km east of Addis Ababa, which has a very Arabic flavour and is much the same city today as it was centuries ago, or to the beautiful Tississat (Smoking Water) water falls on the Blue Nile just south of Bahr Dar some 550 km north-west of Addis Ababa, which are over 1,500 metres wide during the rainy season, and where the water thunders down more than 100 metres.
8.19 The mountains, acacia woodlands, lakes and wetlands of Ethiopia are a bird-watcher's delight; even the leafy gardens of Addis Ababa offer a number of varieties. National parks include the Awash National Park, 225 km (three hours) east of Addis Ababa in the Rift Valley, where accommodation is available in a lodge and at a camp site. Farther afield, an abundance of hippopotami and large crocodiles can be seen in Lake Chamo near Arba Minch. The Bale Mountains park provides an
Afro-Alpine habitat for several endemic species; good hotel accommodation is available at Goba, and the trip can be extended to the Sof Omar caves. The remote south Omo valley, with the Mago National Park, offers a wilderness where few outsiders go. The Simien Mountains in the north have recently become accessible for the first time in a number of years. In both the Omo and Simien areas, all necessary camping equipment and supplies must be taken along.
8.20 Group travel under the auspices of the National Tour Operators
is arranged from time to time to Axum, Lalibela, Gondar and Harar, usually
by air; due to limited numbers of participants, the prices are quite high.
Hotel accommodation in most of these places is reasonable, but it is best
to reserve rooms in advance, particularly at peak times such as Christmas
and New Year, Timket, Holy Week and Meskal. There are a few private guides
who can organize safaris to the more remote parks and have the necessary
8.21 Since mid-1991, previous Government restrictions on travel outside
the Addis Ababa region have been lifted. The northern regions of Gondar,
Tigray and Lalibela are readily accessible to private travellers by road
or air for the first time in a number of years. Road conditions in the
south and east, however, are still quite uncertain, and access to some
areas is questionable; the latest security advice of the UNDP office should
be sought in advance of any travel.
8.22 Ethiopia offers innumerable possibilities for photography and video. While ordinary film is available in Addis Ababa, it is costly and most visitors will prefer to bring a good supply with them; any specialized films and equipment should be brought in from abroad. Developing facilities are also available, but most foreigners will prefer to have their films developed abroad; returning transparencies or photographs are liable to inspection, if sent by regular mail, so the pouch service may be used.
8.23 Many people, particularly in rural areas, are sensitive about
having their pictures taken; tact and courtesy should be used. While the
attitude of the present administration to photography in previously-prohibited
areas is noticeably more relaxed, considerable caution is still needed.
Signs are not always posted in zones where photography is forbidden; no
photographs should be taken of government installations, military areas,
bridges, and similar installations. Sometimes soldiers in town may become
sensitive. The use of binoculars can also provoke sensitivity.
XI. BACKGROUND READING
ADDIS Hiwot: "Ethiopia from Autocracy to Revolution", Review of African Political Economy, London (1975)
CLAPHAM, Christopher: Continuity and Change in Revolutionary Ethiopia
CLAY, Jason W., and Bonnie K. Holcomb: Politics and the Ethiopian Famine, 1984-85, ...
GILKES, Patrick: "The Dying Lion", Davidson Publishing Co., 20 Northgate Street, Devizes, Wilts, England (1974)
HALLIDAY, Fred & Maxine Molyneux: "The Ethiopian Revolution", Verso Editors, London (1981)
HALTENORTH, Theodor and Helmut Diller: A Field Guide to the
Mammals of Africa, Collins, London, 1980
HANCOCK, Graham: "Ethiopia, The Challenge of Hunger" Victor Gollancz Ltd. London, 1987
JANSSON Kurt, Michael Harris and Angela Penrose: "The Ethiopian Famine," Zed Books Ltd., London and New Jersey, 1987
KAPUCINSKI, Ryszard: "The Emperor - Downfall of an Autocrat", Polish original 1978, English translation published by Quartet, London (1984) and Vintage Books, Random House, New York (1984)
LEFORT, Rene: "Ethiopie: La Revolution Heretique", Francois Maspero, Paris (1981); English translation: "Ethiopia: A Heretical Revolution
LEGUM, Colin: The Fall of Haile Selassie's Empire", African Publishing Company, New York (1975)
LEVINE, Donald N.: "Wax & Gold - Tradition and Innovation
in Ethiopian Culture", University of Chicago Press, Chicago (1985), and
"Greater Ethiopia - The Evolution of a Multiethnic Society", University
of Chicago Press, Chicago (1974)
MARKAKIS, John: "Ethiopia: Anatomy of a Traditional Polity", Oxford University Press, Addis Ababa (1975)
MESFIN Wolde Mariam: "Rural Vulnerability to Famine in Ethiopia: 1958-1977", Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi (1984)
OTTAWAY, Marina & Devid: "Ethiopia: Empire in Revolution",
African Publishing Co., Holmes & Meier Publishers, London (1978)
PANKHURST, Richard Press, Addis Ababa (1966); and The History
of Famine and Epidemics in Ethiopia prior to the 2Oth Century, .......................
PANKHURST, Sylvia: "Ethiopia: A Cultural History", Lalibela
House (1965), distributed by Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd., 1 Tavistock Chambers,
Bloomsbury Way, London W.C. 1
SPENCER, John H.: "Ethiopia at Bay - A Personal Account of
the Haile Sellassie Years", Reference Publications, 218 St. Clair River
Drive, Box 344, Algonac, Michigan 48001 (1984)
ULLENDORFF, Edward: "The Ethiopians: An Introduction to country
and People", Oxford University Press, London (1973)
VANDERLINDEN, Jacques: "L'Ethiopie et ses populations", Editions
Complexe, Bruxelles (1977)
WILLIAMS, J.G. and N. Arlott: A Field Guide to the Birds of
East Africa, Collins, London, 1980
PANKHURST, Richard - 'A Social History of Ethiopia, Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa University, 1990.