News / Africa

    Ethiopian Food Prices Up Nearly 50 Percent

    Ethiopians awoke Tuesday to news that food prices had increased nearly 50 percent over the past year. They didn’t need to be told. Even middle-class Ethiopians are finding it more difficult to feed their families.

    Ethiopia’s annual inflation rate jumped to nearly 40 percent in July.  The Central Statistics Agency says food prices, which comprise more than half the Consumer Price Index, were up 47.4 percent from a year ago.

    In local markets, faces were glum, but few were willing to talk about their condition.  One shopper, who gave his name as Geremew, simply held up the thick wad of birr, the Ethiopian currency, that he was holding as he waited to pay for a small basket of food.

    Mansour Mohammed, a grocer in central Addis Ababa, says prices of essentials such as cooking oil have risen much more than the average, forcing consumers to switch to cheaper alternatives. "People say that’s expensive.  Once you [could] buy vegetable oil 20 birr, [approx.$1.25] now it’s 60 birr ($3.75).  It’s almost 200 percent increase.  But you can change.  Instead of vegetable oil you can use palm oil," he said.

    The statistics agency says transportation costs and housing were up more than 40 percent during the past year. The price of a liter of gasoline stood at 21 birr this week, a massive increase despite government promises to keep inflation in single-digit territory.

    When prices began to shoot skyward earlier this year, the government imposed price controls on a number of items and began selling sugar and cooking oil directly to consumers.  But the controls led to shortages, and were dropped after infuriating shop owners and failing to ease inflationary pressure.

    While the price caps were in place, shopkeepers were accused of keeping goods off the market until prices rose.  But after the controls were removed, shortages continued and prices surged.

    Government economists say the inflation rate is being driven largely by the drought that is crippling food production in parts of the Horn of Africa.  But others, such as opposition leader and former World Bank director Bulcha Demeksa, says factors such as government land policy and corruption are just as much to blame.

    "The farmers are not producing enough.  There is commotion in the agriculture sector.  Commotion meaning the farmer’s mind is not at rest.  He is not even sure whether the local officials are going to take his particular plot or not.  These are people who take a small bribe and take land from one and give it to the other, and [so] people do not produce as much.  The population is increasing; production is not increasing because of government land policy," Bulcha said.

    Government statistics indicate more than 13 million of Ethiopia’s 80 million people will receive some sort of nutritional assistance this year.  About 4.5 million are in urgent need of help, and emergency food stocks are stretched by the arrival of an additional 150,000 refugees from famine-stricken Somalia.

    Despite the difficulties, the government is predicting economic growth of 11 percent this year.  The International Monetary Fund says inflation troubles are likely to cut that figure by half.

    You May Like

    Video Russia's Expat Community Shrinking

    Russia's troubled economy, tensions with West have led hundreds of thousands of foreigners to leave for better opportunities

    Accelerating the Push Against Islamic State: What Will Work?

    Experts stress need to step up military action, address root causes of Muslims' disaffection, counter IS social media messages in a massive way

    Experts: N. Korean Abductions Sought to Halt Brain Drain

    Pyongyang abducted about 3,800 South Koreans and more than a dozen Japanese nationals in late 1970s

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.