Ethiopia - Country Commercial Guide
Selling Factors and Techniques

Identifies common practices to be aware of when selling in this market, e.g., whether all sales material need to be in the local language.

Last published date: 2020-07-20

Selling Factors and Techniques

The most important consideration for the majority of Ethiopian customers is price rather than life-cycle cost. Durability is seen by few as an important purchasing factor. Given the significance of price, businesses often import low cost goods with a high turnover. However, for capital/durable items, buyers tend to prefer reliable, quality equipment, with dependable after-sales service. Presenting sales materials in the official local language, Amharic, in addition to English, is an effective way to reach a broader customer base. Nevertheless, the use of English is prevalent in the business community.

USTDA is supporting the GOE’s efforts to incorporate life-cycle cost analysis and value-for-money elements in their public procurement practices to obtain the best value for government funds and to improve overall procurement outcomes. Such initiatives and programs are intended to bring about transparency and level the playing field allowing U.S. companies to effectively bid and compete in GOE tender based public procurement programs.

Trade Promotion & Advertising

Advertising and trade promotion are important in the Ethiopian market. Government-owned mass media outlets (radio, television, and newspapers) and privately-owned magazines, satellite television stations, newspapers, radio stations and billboards are the major means of advertising. Annually, the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce organizes several international trade fairs in Ethiopia. These events attract many Chinese, Indian, European and local exhibitors. Please visit the chamber website for show information. http://addischamber.com/
United States companies can contact the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service Addis Ababa office for a Single Company Promotion (SCP) service to brand their company’s products and services.

Please refer to the following list for more information: 
Disclaimer: This list is not comprehensive and inclusion does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by the U.S. government. 

American Chamber of Commerce – Ethiopia (AmCham
Mina Building, Addis Ababa
https://amchamethiopia.org

Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations 
P.O. Box 2458 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel: +251-11-551-8055
Fax: +251-11-551-1479 
Email: aachamber1@ethionet.et
http://www.addischamber.com 

Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations 
Tel: +251-011-551-8240 
Fax: +251-011-551-7699 
E-mail: ethchamb@ethionet.et 
http://www.ethiopianchamber.com

Advertising agencies
B.T. Digital Advert 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel: +251-11-663-1717 
Fax: +251-11-662-6545 
Email: btta@ethionet.et 

Champion Communication
Addis Ababa Ethiopia
Tel: +251-92-440-9569
http://www.Ethiopianbusinessreview.net
ebr.magazine@gmail.com

Cactus Advertising 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel: +251-11-554-4901 
Fax: +251-11-554-4907 
Email: cactusplc@ethionet.et
http://www.cactusethiopia.com 

Flawless Events
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Tel: +251-11-6186915
E-mail: info@flawlessevents.net
http://www.flawlessevent.net
I Print Digital Advertising Plc 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel +251-11-554-5777
Fax +251-554-5778
Mobile +251-911-62-5779/+251-911-52-3398
Email: info@iprintadvert.com
http://www.iprintadvert.com

251 Communication
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Tel +251 911 25 96 94 
Email: info@251communications.com
www.251communications.com

Horizon Ethiopia 
P.O. Box 26782/1000 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel: +251-11-618-4045 
Email: advertising@addisconnexion.com 
http://www.horizonethiopiatours.com/

Ozzie Business and Hospitality Group
Tel: +251-934-240443
Info@hotelshowethiopia.com
http://www.hotelshowethiopia.com/

Lion Advertising and Public Relations Organizations
P.O. Box 5372 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel: +251-11-552-7835 / 552-7836 
Fax: +251-11-551-2499 
Email: lionadpr@ethionet.et 

Mono 2000 PLC 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel: +251-11-663-3060 
Fax: +251-11-663-3061 
Mob: +251-91-121-2091 
Email: monoplc@yahoo.com 

Sonic Screen Advertising Plc
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Tel:+251-11-661-6104
Fax: +251-11-661-6104
Mobile: +251-911-20-8335
Email: onscreen@ethionet.et

Zeleman Productions 
P.O. Box: 17629 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel: +251-11-663-2800/01/02/03/04 
Mobile: +251-91-124-5627 
Fax: +251-11-662-6238 
E-mail: info@zelemanproductions.com 
www.zelemanproductions.com 

Newspapers
Addis Business (Weekly)
P.O. Box 2458 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel: +251-11-551-8882
Fax: +251-11-551-1479 
Email: aachamber1@ethionet.et
 http://www.addischamber.com 

Addis Zemen (Daily Amharic newspaper) 
P.O. Box 30145 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel: +251-11-662-5466
Fax: +251-11-661-2261
Email: info@ethpress.gov.et 
http://www.ethpress.gov.et 

Capital (weekly) 
P.O. Box 95 Code 1110 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel: +251-11-618-3253 / +251-11-651-3375 
Fax: +251-11-618-5206 
Email: syscom@ethionet.et 
http://www.capitalethiopia.com 

Ethiopian Business Review Magazine (monthly)
P.O. Box 54605 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
 ebr.magazine@gmail.com
info@ethiopianbusinessreview.net
Tel: +251- 92-440-9569  
Fax:  +251-11-554-6450     
http://www.ethiopianbusinessreview.net/

Fortune (weekly) 
P.O. Box 1110, Code 259 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel: +251-11-662-7150 
Fax: +251-11-662-3727 
Email: tamrat@addisfortune.com 
http://www.addisfortune.com 

New Business Ethiopia (Online newspaper)
contactus@newbusinessethiopia.com 
http://newbusinessethiopia.com

Press Digest (weekly) 
P.O. Box 12719 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel: +251-11-111-2154 
Fax: +251-11-551-3523 
Email: Phoenix.Universal@t.ethionet.et 
http://www.Press-digest.info
 
The Daily Monitor (Daily)
P.O. Box 4502 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel: +251-11-156-0199/156-0794 
Fax: +251-11-156-0515 
E-mail: themonitor@ethionet.et 
http://www.theafricamonitor.com

The Ethiopian Herald (Daily)
P.O. Box 30701 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel: +251-11-156-9983 
Fax: +251-11-156-9862 
Email: et.press@ethionet.et 
http://www.ethpress.gov.et 

The Reporter (weekly) 
P.O Box 7023 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel: +251-11-661-6188 
Fax: +251-11-661-6189 
Email: mcc@ethionet.et 
http://www.ethiopianreporter.com 

Government Media

Ethiopian News Agency 
P.O. Box 530 
Tel: +251-11-155-0011 
Fax: +251-11-155-1609 
E-mail: ena@ethionet.et or enas@ethionet.et 
http://www.ena.gov.et 

Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency 
P.O. Box 1020/5544 
Tel: +251-11-550-5483 / 553-6566 
Fax: +251-11-550-5174 
E-mail: etv2@ethionet.et 
http://www.ebc.et 

Fana Broadcasting Corporation
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel: +251-11-551-6777 
Fax: +251-11-551-5039 
E-mail: rfana@radiofana.com 
http://www.fanabc.com 

Sheger FM
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Tel: 251- 93-007-6849  
Email: info@shegerfm.com
https://shegerfm.com/

Walta Information and Public Relation Center S.C 
P.O. Box 12918 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Tel: + +251-11-416 9032 
Fax: +251-11-4670302
http://www.waltainfo.com

Pricing

Commercial imports are subject to up to five separate import taxes, which are all collected by the Ethiopian Customs Commission (ECC). These taxes are charged in a compounding, sequential order as follows: customs duty, excise tax, value added tax, surtax and withholding tax (not compounding). All taxes are payable at the time of import.

Custom duties range from 0% to 35% and are levied on CIF (cost, freight and insurance) price applied based on Harmonized System (HS) tariff codes. The calculation of the total customs duty is based on the CIF (Cost + insurance + freight) of the imported good.
An excise tax is imposed on products deemed to be luxury items or other demand inelastic products. The tax is product dependent and ranges between 10 to 100 percent. The excise tax is applied to 19 specified classes of products identified by ECC.
The value added tax (VAT) is a flat 15 percent tax on all imports, unless otherwise exempted.

The surtax is a flat tax of 10 percent on all imports, unless otherwise exempted.
The withholding tax is a flat tax of three percent on the CIF price of all imports, unless otherwise exempted. A withholding tax may be offset against qualified business income taxes.

The former Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority was restructured in 2019. According to the new structure, the Ministry of Revenue is the highest authority with oversight over customs issues. The Ethiopian Customs Commission operates now under the Ministry of Revenue and is led by a commissioner.

ECC has developed an import tax calculator to assist traders in determining the applicable taxes for their products. The calculator requires entry of the following information: six or eight-digit Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) code, cost of the imported item, freight, and insurance, as well as any other cost. The HTS code along with the associated import taxes can be found in ERCA’s HTS. Please visit Ethiopian Ministry of Revenue website http://www.erca.gov.et/.

The Government of Ethiopia (GOE) sets prices for local transportation fares, petroleum, and fertilizer; with periodic reviews on the prices to reflect prevailing local market situation. 

Prices of locally produced products have increased significantly in recent years. The relative prices of imported goods are also high, due to customs duties, transportation costs, and a 15% devaluation of the local currency, the Birr, against the U.S. dollar.
For more information on customs, please refer to the Ministry of Revenue website.
For more information on the African Growth Opportunity Act please refer to the following link: https://ustr.gov/issue-areas/trade-development/preference-programs/african-growth-and-opportunity-act-agoa

Sales service is available for most products, but customer service levels are poor in comparison to international standards. Service providers that rely on imported parts often face delays in obtaining the foreign exchange to purchase these goods. Consumer advocacy or protection associations that operate in Ethiopia have weak enforcement capacity. 

Local Professional Services

The following list includes companies that render general professional services (see Web Resources section below for website and email links). 
https://et.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/attorneys/

Disclaimer: This list is not comprehensive and inclusion does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by the U.S. government. 

Banking and Finance
Ethiopia’s commercial banks include Abay Bank, Addis International Bank, Awash International Bank, Bank of Abyssinia, Berhan International Bank, Bunna International Bank, Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, Construction and Business Bank, Cooperative Bank of Oromia, Dashen Bank, Development Bank of Ethiopia, Enat Bank, Lion International Bank, Nib International Bank, Oromia International Bank, United Bank, Wegagen Bank, and Zemen Bank. 

Hotels and Meeting Facilities
Ethiopia has a number of hotels that meet international standards operating in Addis Ababa, including: Capital Hotel and Spa, eLilly Hotel, Ghion Hotel, Golden Tulip Hotel, Harmony Hotel, Hilton Addis Ababa, Best Western, Hyatt Regency Hotel, Jupiter Hotel, Marriott Executives Apartment, Radisson Blu, Ramada Addis, and Sheraton Addis Ababa. 

Tour Operators
Several tour operators serve the country including: Abyssinian Tours, Altour-Ethiopia, Ethiopia Travel, Ethiopian Rift Valley Safaris, Experience Ethiopia Travel, GETTS Travel, and Travel Ethiopia. 

Others
Other entities that work with international companies doing business in Ethiopia include: American Chamber of Commerce in Ethiopia, Association of Ethiopian Microfinance Institutions, Construction Contractors Association of Ethiopia, Deloitte Ethiopia, Encore Employment Training Services, Ernst & Young, Grant Thornton, Ethio-Jobs, Ethiopian Bar Association, Ethiopian Cotton Producers and Ginners Association, Ethiopian Business Development Services Network, Ethiopian Economics Association, Ethiopian Horticulture Producer Exporters Association, Ethiopian Information Technology Professional Association, Ethiopian Leather Industries Association, Ethiopian Medical Association, Gazebo International, Grant Thornton Ethiopia, HST Consulting, Precise Consult International.

Principal Business Associations

The establishment and operation of foreign chambers of commerce is governed by the Ethiopian Investment Commission. In 2016, the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Ethiopia signed a cooperation agreement with the Ethiopian Investment Commission, which allowed for the formal establishment of the AmCham and its registration as a legal entity. The AmCham was officially launched in December 2016. 
Other business associations include Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association and the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce and Sectorial Association, Ethiopian Entrepreneurs Association, Ethiopian Women Entrepreneurs Association, Addis Ababa Women Entrepreneurs Association, Ethiopian Coffee Exporters Association, and Ethiopian Bankers Association.All these business associations share a similar goal of promoting trade. Ethiopian business associations look favorably on U.S. companies and are interested in working with them to attract U.S. trade and investment to Ethiopia.

Limitations on Selling U.S. Products and Services 

The investment and business environment in Ethiopia has considerable limitations and market challenges. Major challenges are shortage of foreign currency, lack of finance, high logistics costs, bureaucratic approval procedures and slow decision-making. Other challenges include unreliable internet connectivity and power supply and closed service sectors such as the financial and insurance sector. U.S. companies interested in selling their products and services in this market will generally need to bring their own financing and have patience to obtain payment from buyers.

The most important consideration for the majority of Ethiopian customers is price rather than life-cycle cost. Durability is seen by few as an important purchasing factor. Given the significance of price, businesses often import low cost goods with a high turnover. However, for capital/durable items, buyers tend to prefer reliable, quality equipment, with dependable after-sales service. Presenting sales materials in the official local language, Amharic, in addition to English, is an effective way to reach a broader customer base. Nevertheless, the use of English is prevalent in the business community.

USTDA is supporting the GOE’s efforts to incorporate life-cycle cost analysis and value-for-money elements in their public procurement practices to obtain the best value for government funds and to improve overall procurement outcomes. Such initiatives and programs are intended to bring about transparency and level the playing field allowing U.S. companies to effectively bid and compete in GOE tender based public procurement programs.