Newsroom > Blog
Matt knows a time before there was even a ring road in Addis Ababa. Now, there is not only a ring road (a highway of sorts), there are also stoplights throughout the city, a six-lane highway connecting Addis Ababa to Adama (the busiest corridor for transporting goods), a light rail system to transport city residents, and a railway will soon be commissioned to take containers from Addis Ababa to the Port of Djibouti. We still become concerned when we see people walking their livestock on the ring road, but then again, change takes time.
When we first came to the country, RENEW was the second foreign PE group to open an office in Ethiopia. Now, there are several additional firms working alongside RENEW. We still receive the occasional question from investors about whether private equity is really possible here, but in general, viewpoints have evolved and investments are being made. As more investors come, desk officers at related government organizations are starting to understand the needs and terminology of the private equity community. We do our part to educate businesses, banks and other stakeholders in the investment community about private equity through seminars and one-on-one conversations. Shark Tank Addis anyone?
If you leave Addis Ababa for even a couple of days, you’ll likely come back to a new building (or ten) going up. Every day, it seems like a new hotel or apartment building or corporate office is constructed and opens its doors. I would never pretend to be an expert on the real estate industry in Ethiopia, where the government owns the land and leases it for residential and commercial use. But, by all accounts, there has been incredible growth since we arrived four years ago, and it does not seem like it will be slowing down anytime soon. One of our investors recently commented that she thinks we should start a scaffolding business. Not a bad idea!
The quality of life becomes better each month we are here. Last month, we spent some time in the rural coffee region of southern Ethiopia, and I was astonished to find that there was an operational 3G cellphone network throughout the area. Even a year ago, this wouldn’t have been the case. Ericsson has done an incredible job of implementing said networks in locations where they’ve been asked to do so by the government of Ethiopia. Other areas we see progress in include the addition of upscale restaurants and infrastructure present in cosmopolitan cities around the world.