Category Archives: Ethiopia

Reading the African Tea leaves at Global Airlines

From this recent article about Ethiopian Airlines, it was shocking to learn that African airlines now account for about 20% of air traffic to and from the continent, down from 60% three decades ago. This was according to Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde Gebremariam.  According to the Wikipedia, which has a list of the largest airlines in Africa by passenger numbers (2013), the top African airlines are:

1 EgyptAir 11.8 million (M) passengers
2 South African Airways 9.5M
3 Royal Air Maroc 6.2M
4 Ethiopian Airlines 6M
5 Air Algérie (4.4M in 2012)
6 Tunisair (3.8M in 10212)
7 Kenya Airways 3.6M
8 Arik Air 2.8M
9 Air Mauritius 3M
10 Libyan Airlines 1.3M

But what does Africa mean to these and other airlines? How does Africa impact these airlines financially? For some it’s clear, but for others, it’s difficult to judge as  many carriers lump their (tiny) African operations with Middle East and South Asia. Also, many airlines are state-owned and do not disclose investor levels of information that is useful for comparison.

A recent Qatar Airways financial report notes that the aviation industry in Africa is still in its early stages of development meaning that the continent is poorly served by its own national airlines. But alongside traditional extraction of natural resources, manufacturing, tourism and infrastructure investments are rising, which bodes well for the future economic and political stability of the African continent. Increasing air-connectivity between Africa and the rest of the world will drive economic growth. Another one from Ethiopian notes that jet fuel is 21% more expensive in Africa compared to the rest of the world.

Here are extracts from the annual reports and official releases of the various airlines:

Air Algerie: Flew 5 million passengers on 56 aircraft.

British Airways: Flies to 16 destinations in Africa.

Chinese Airlines: Have only recently started flights to Africa, and travel between Africa and China is mainly by African airlines and the gulf carriers. Of the six state-owned airlines, Air China flies to Ethiopia and South Africa, while China Southern flies to Kenya.

Egypt Air: Their report notes that African airlines not able to achieve adequate load factors except on a few routes and the airline operates in a territory that has lots of disruptions, cancellations, and flight & route changes due to security. The state airline comprises an international airline, a local airline, industrial training, ground handling, medical, in-flight catering, and other arms. It had 2015 revenue of 17.7 billion pounds (~$2.5) billion of which 7.5 billion pounds was from airline passenger flights in which they carried 7.4 million passengers (plus another 1.2 million in the sister domestic airline). 52% of their revenue is from the Middle East was 52%, followed by 21% from Europe. No number is given for ‘Africa’ but the report notes that African revenue declined 25% from 2014.

Emirates: Now flies to 154 cities in 83 countries. In 2016, revenue from Africa was 9 billion AED (~$2.5 billion), a 3% decrease from 2015. Africa accounts for 11% of Emirates overall revenue of their 84 billion revenue. 29% comes from Europe, 27% from East Asia, 14% from America, and they only get 10% from the gulf & Middle East – a truly international airline. Also, Dubai Tourism statistics show that only 5% of visitors to Dubai are from Africa, led by Egypt (239,000) and Nigeria (139,000). Emirates get 32% from travel services, 27% from UAE airport operations, 20% from international airport operations, and 18% from catering. 

Ethiopian Airlines: Flies to 49 destinations in Africa. It had 2015 revenue of 49 million birr (~ $2.1 billion) and 3.5 billion birr (~$160 million) profit, and is one of the few consistently profitable airlines on the continent. They have huge investments in Asky Airlines (ECOWAS airline based in Lome that flies 10 000 passengers a week to 22 destinations in 20 countries of West and Central Africa) and Malawi Airlines. Another post mentions that Ethiopian Airlines has proposed a joint pan-African airline for the  under-served Southern and Central Africa regions to the governments of Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Rwanda, Namibia, DRC and Botswana.

Etihad Airways: Own 40% of Air Seychelles and flies to 166 destinations using 120 aircraft (2014). Has 49 code-share partnerships including with Kenya Airways, South African, and Royal Air Maroc. Their 2014 revenue was $7.6 billion, with a profit of $73m profit (no further breakdown).

Kenya Airways: In 2015, 49% of its Kshs 110 billion ($1.2 billion) revenue was from the rest of Africa (down from 52%). 22% was from Europe, 19% from Asia and 10% from local flights in Kenya. So is KQ’s dependence on Africa is a drawback?

Lufthansa: Flies to 17 destinations in 14 countries in Africa. In 2015, it had 583 million euros (~$608 million) of revenue from Africa (unchanged from 2014), and this is about 2% of their overall revenue.

(Air) Mauritius: In 2015, had 490 million euros of revenue (about $600M) and a net profit of 16.5 million euro (compare to a loss of 24 million euros the year before) They carried 1.5 million passengers and flew to 23 destinations. Europe has been their main market (34% of revenue) followed by Asia 32% (they have the largest Asian network of any African airline). In Africa, they fly to 6 destinations, and 29% of their revenue is from a combined Africa/Middle East/Indian Ocean zone, earning 39.5 million euros ($49 million). The flew 247,000 passengers in Africa, a 10% increase.

Qatar Airways: Flies to 26 African destinations (our of 150 total) and plans to add more in Africa and India which they expect will be the largest growth markets in the near to medium term. In 2016, they carried 26.6 million passengers.

South African Airways: Generated 589 million rand (~$42 million) from its African routes and notes that Africa continues to have strong underlying growth. They had a fleet of 50 aircraft in 2016 and are trying to grow a hub in West Africa.

TunisAir:  Flew 2.7 million passengers in 2015, which was down from the average of 3.7 million they have carried in past years. Some of this can be attributed to curfew hours and increased security.

Turkish Airline: Got $826m from African sales in 2015 (a 9% decline from 2014). Africa accounts for 8% of revenue and passenger volumes and they fly to 48 destinations in 31 countries on the continent using a  narrow body i.e. 737 fleet of aircraft. Turkish Airlines sells 10,000 tickets per day in Africa.

Domestic Resources Mobilization in Africa

African case studies on tax reform and domestic resource mobilization from Togo, Uganda and Ethiopia.

Togo 

  • IMF was not very happy when they merged the two offices of customs and revenue. But Togo accepted performance monitoring mechanism that was funded by the WB and when they saw that it was working, then the IMF came back on board.
  • Introduced reform in a country where the richest people are civil servants
  • Invested in computers, capacity building, software to have a system that tackles all aspects from declaration to dispute resolution.
  • Got 15,000 new taxpayers last year, while in past years they used to get 7,000.
  • Also improve speed and security. Previously, petroleum revenue used to be manually recorded. They now use PIN’s in different department, and the software is connected to the banking system so no more direct payments (all are done at at banks).
  • While they initally retired a number of officers who did not want to learn or comply, those who remained had improved terms with performance targets for which they earn bonuses
  • 2015 target was 480 billion CFA and they managed to college 516 billion.
  • They have not fully used the system yet. It’s only two years old, but they rely on their neighbours for internet connectivity.

Afcop AfriK4RUganda: 

  • Is in second phase of a 2019-20  plan which targets to  fully financing budget from domestic sources. The revenue authority started in 1991 but reforms started in 2005.
  • Even as the economy has grown, surprisingly the informal sector has also grown to take a larger share of the economy (49% of GDP, up from 43% in 2002. They have had to target the informal sector to keep up e.g via presumptive tax thresholds.
  • The revenue authorities treat the government as ‘private sector’and removed their exemptions like VAT and income tax.
  • Have business bands, and a taxpayer identification number (TIN) is requires for most transactions and permits, whether livestock movement, boda boda purchase, agriculture payments etc. All professionals – doctor engineers lawyers also have TIN’s, and they hope the introduction of national ID cards will enhance tax collection efforts.
  • They have a separate section for international taxation and have built capacity in oil & gas taxation. But as they train staff, other companies hire away their top performer, so they have to be retained.
  • They have simplified tax system so people can pay at their convenience e.g. via mobile money even when banks are closed.

Ethiopia:

  • Set out to mobilization domestic resources for the largest hydroelectric dam in Africa after foreign donors and partners who had supported previous smaller dams, balked at participation.
  • The GERD (Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam) will generate 6,500 MW. It is 1,680 Sq.KM, and 120 kilometres by 14 kilometers and 146 metres high – and it took off  in April 2011, is 70% done, to be completed in July 2017.
  • Because of political impact river to other countries (shared Nile), external funding was blocked by international community and they turned to own people to meet the $4.8 billion cost (11% of their GDP or about 60% of the country’s 2012 budget).
  • Got contributions from individuals and companies –  local and diaspora –  though direct contributions, lotteries, music events.
  • They also had a diaspora bond which has raised $500 million. People bought the 1.5% bond that matured in 5,7, 10 years. The dam will generate income from electricity sales to pay back the bond – and is expected to generate $1 billion per year.
  • They also got support from banks, who expanded branches to reach more of the rural population (one bank now has 1,000 outlets) and mobilized deposits. The banks were required to allocate 27% of every loan they make to buy the bond.

Possible Economic Bubble In Ethiopia?

–>

A guest post by @Kahenya
Ethiopia has a very positive economic outlook and yes, it has a lot of development going on, but is this sustainable, now that the linchpin (Meles Zenawi) is gone? The one thing that is universal about the entire continent is that the poverty line seems to grow every year, sometimes it shrinks, but only for a moment. The cliché remains, that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer and there is no true middle class –  and if there is, its only based on people who don’t want to imagine that they are less than middle class.
Africa is the kingdom of billion {insert any local currency here} projects. Ethiopia also finds itself in the same quagmire, except for one thing. They are actually making it work for their benefit. In Ethiopia, construction and infrastructure development are at an all time high. It was necessary for this to happen until Meles Zenawi and his beloved Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) went their separate ways, much to the disadvantage of EPRDF. Zenawi’s rule transited between dictatorship and benevolence and it was working for him and Ethiopia. Love him or hate him, from being out in the rebel trenches to donning a suit, Meles was every bit a tactical genius. He grew Ethiopia from a war torn country to one of Africa’s fastest growing economies. Only Meles could conjure up infinite possibilities. – sometimes by sheer cunning and sometimes by sheer fear.
Hotel cautions on using skype
EPRDF needed Meles to live long enough to get to his end game which would have allowed EPRDF to focus on less ambitious but more people driven development. That did not happen. With him gone, and an open democracy in the horizon (since every linchpin’s death or retirement is followed by internal crisis and eventual dissolution, with less political tolerance by the citizens), with a lot of projects still incomplete, and with Ethiopia still facing many financial challenges, the positive economic outlook has quickly shifted from “going to happen” to “may happen”.
EPRDF has moved from the strong offensive, to a sullen offensive-defensive. Push-Pull. Addis, like Luanda, Angola, defies Economic Science. If you buy a vehicle in Ethiopia, when you sell it, even years later, the value generally appreciates. Rents and property rates are astronomically high, coming close to rivaling Luanda – a huge developmental Achilles heel.
Lunch at the  Sheraton in Addis
The key driver of such high rates is the presence of Diplomats and NGOs who have an unending well of money – and this is where the very living ghost of Isaias Afewerki (President of neighbouring Eritrea) comes to haunt Ethiopia. Eritrea, despite being poor, is not dependent on Foreign Aid or NGOs. They have that to pride. For Eritrea, there are no illusions. Poor is poor so the only way is to go upwards – on their own. Ethiopia lacks that. Instead, they have to endure a very faint cushion, one that is rarely successful except in dire times. Unless Ethiopia starts equal distribution of development in the small business sector and begins to really crack the whip on poverty alleviation and shakes off its dependency on NGOs, EPRDF could find itself in a lot of trouble – just like the ANC is, despite them trying to conjure all sorts of ghosts, from Jacob Zuma’s incarnation of Umshini Wami to the very living ghost of Nelson Mandela. Nonetheless, Ethiopia’s economy is about to get a very shocking reality check.

Guide to Addis Ababa

A guest post by @Kahenya who made a recent visit to Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia on a philanthropic mission. He also says that this blog is blocked from Ethiopia and that 1 birr is equivalent to about 5 Kenya shillings.

Getting There: When I arrived in Ethiopia, it took me about 30 minutes to clear at the airport, and here Kenyan citizens don’t need a visa. However a Yellow fever certificates is mandatory and they will quarantine you for not having one.

Getting Around: Normal prices for a taxi can be anything between 100 Birr to 250, but the guesthouse I was staying in sent their shuttle to the airport (to pick me). Most locals use either a matatu (big taxi) or small taxis which act as a matatu, and sometimes they even contract taxis.

I use the matatu (big taxi) and contract taxis as do many locals, and I also hired a car with a driver to take out on the , since it worked out cheaper than a contract taxi and the guy waited on me.

I have never felt unsafe in Addis – whether it’s day or night. It’s out in the desert where things tend to go wrong. My advice, is don’t travel at night outside the city, especially into the desert, as that’s time territory.

Language: With English and like about 2 words of Amharic, I am always able to find my way around. There is no local English newspaper but my favourite English magazine there is Whats’out Addis.

Communications: I have an Addis line, and I just plonked in the SIM-card and it worked. Mobile internet works, quite well now, unlike last year where I was barred from it. There are many Wi-fi hotspots, especially in the guest houses, hotels, and coffee shops, and they are usually free. I did not pay for internet this time round, but I believe it varies from .50c to 1 Birr per minute. Making local calls is easy, as are international calls, but I did not check the cost.

Hotel: I stayed in a guest house [La Source Guest House, located on Gabon Street In Meskel Square behind Adot-Tina Hotel] where usually I get a double room for about 400 birr, but this time round, I stayed in the penthouse and it was 600 birr a night. I have been staying in this guesthouse since the day they opened, in the early 2000’s, so I get very preferential rates. I am still confused by this place almost 10 years later because though the place is quite clean, and located in a nice place, the price remains very affordable. It has always thrown me off, but as they say, take it with a smile. You can also make booking online, and while I only confirmed my booking 3 hours before takeoff, I found everything ready & in order when I arrived.

Food & Bars: The local dish was injera (which I do not really like) but I had a lot of tibbs, bread, pizza, and (strangely) sandwiches.

St George Beer (my favourite there) was 35 bob (due to price caps) which made it very difficult to find – in fact, finding beer was a mission! I did not quite interact with strangers this time round, but mostly we talked about May Bread, African politics, Gaddafi some bullshit, girl talk etc.

Shopping & Sight-Seeing: I always go to Merkato, as do many tourists. The leather stuff in Addis is always a plus and as are the imported original Italian Suits (which I don’t wear) that are priced that much better than in Nairobi. Most tourists buy local wear, artifacts etc.

Also go to Langano and Awassa to enjoy some lake side action, and Gondar & Lalibella for history. But, ironically, I’ve never been to any of these places, but my opportunity will come one day.

Business & Infrastructure: – Electricity is not very reliable. There are major blackouts during the day and a lot of people have backup generators if they can afford it. The guest house I stayed at had a generator, so we were not in the dark for more than two minutes which was nice.

Opportunities?: Addis is ripe for construction and infrastructure development. If you can get in on that, or even technology work, then you are in a good place. Local product development that can be exported (I hear) is also a big hit, with the government helping with fulfillment.

Shocker: – Last year, (the economy) was good, and there was a lot of activity, but now it seems to have slowed down. With the price cuts, and shortage of food items, like sugar, cereals, and cooking oil, the economy seemed to have reverted back to the old days.

– But the construction boom is insane, and property prices I noted are quite high. In short, property prices don’t match up to the economy.