Ethiopia can look back on a history of several thousand years, which is why it is considered to be the cradle of humanity and the oldest independent country in Africa. Furthermore, coffee has its origins in Ethiopia and nowadays is the country’s main export commodity. Ethiopia is a beautiful country with a very rich culture. It is currently one of the fastest growing economies in Africa (9% GDP growth) due to its largely unexplored resources and huge business potential.
Please watch official videos made for Saudi East African Forum: Ethiopia - Land of tomorrow
Addis Ababa - Boomtown and vibrant city
However, countless people in Ethiopia still live in inhumane conditions and are dying of hunger or preventable and curable diseases. According to the UNDP Human Development Index, Ethiopia still ranks among the ten poorest countries in the world. Approximately 2 million of the 15-49 year olds are infected with HIV/AIDS. As a result of the country’s very high population increase of 3% per year, a huge percentage of Ethiopia’s population is very young. Approximately 50% of Ethiopians are below the age of 16; in other words the country has about 40 million children.
Ethiopia, a landlocked country bordered by Eritrea, Kenya, the Sudan, Somalia and Djibouti, can be subdivided into three climatic zones. Almost 80 million people live here in about 90 different ethnic groups. 82 languages and 200 dialects are spoken in Ethiopia and it is about three times the size of Germany. However, due to the lack of infrastructure, the rural population in particular is more or less cut off from the outside world.
Approximately 3.5 million years ago Ethiopia was the first country in the world to be settled. In the course of colonialism Ethiopia remained the only country in Africa that was never be completely conquered. The successful resistance to the first Italian invasion in 1896 became a firm element of the Ethiopian feeling of national identity.
Ethiopia nowadays is the largest single development aid project funded by the Federal Republic of Germany. This is due to the fact that the the Horn of Africa is politically a region of great interest – apart from any humanitarian reasons. The project ecbp (Engineering Capacity Building Programme) was initiated in 2006 and received from the start onwards a lot of criticism (see journal “Weltsichten” http://weltsichten.org/front_content.php?idart=250 (article in German only)) – one of the reasons being that the project never arrived in the regions, and in the Southern Region in particular, as had been demanded.
Ethiopia, a potentially rich country, is nowadays dependent on foreign aid (approx. 97% of their budget according to Dambisa MOYO, Dead Aid, p. 72, London 2009). Plenty of natural resources like water, forests, agriculture, cattle, cotton, coffee (the origin of coffee worldwide), tea, leather and textile production are waiting for investors or for the OECD countries to dismantle their trade barriers. These countries spend almost $300 million on agricultural subsidies alone and a piece of this cake could rescue Ethiopia's trade efforts.
Furthermore, Ethiopia with more than 80 ethnic groups is currently one of the lowest ranking countries in the HDI (Human Development Index) worldwide. That in itself is reason enough to assist the country in its stabilization and development efforts.
Awassa - near the lake
In 2006 more than 1.5 million people were living with HIV/Aids in Ethiopia, leaving orphans and dependants behind them. It is estimated that 1.2 million children are orphans (based on international projections), having lost one or both of their parents, and this number will increase to 2 million in 2009. It is also estimated that 5 million Ethiopian children are living in difficult circumstances.
The situation is nearly the same in urban and rural regions of the country. This is particularly true of Awassa where the number of orphans is increasing from day to day (approx. 5,000) and resulting in a high burden of socio-economic problems in the city.
This was the reason for EBCC to step into a project that can only be described as a pilot project for the whole of the Southern Region, where no less than 56 ethnic groups and the same number of languages are to be found.
The Southern Region is as big as Hungary and has a population of 15 million from 56 “nationalities”. Awassa is the capital of the Southern Region.
Ethiopians like to celebrate! See New Years Celebrations in San Francisco 2002
... more information (facts & figures), please see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13349398