Ethiopian economy’s new gold rush

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Gold is now Ethiopia’s second largest export item as well as the country’s second foreign exchange earner, after coffee.

The horn of Africa country’s half year export earnings since the start of its fiscal year in mid July, 2010, hit US$ 1.14 billion, according to a report released by the Ethiopian Trade Ministry.

Ethiopia’s agriculture based economy employs over 80 per cent of its estimated population of 80 million. Coffee, the country’s main export crop, which provided the country with an estimated 65 per cent of its foreign exchange earnings in the 1990s, is now down to about 35 per cent due to continues price slumps on the international market.

The country has tried to diversify its coffee dominated agricultural sector by encouraging the export of oil seeds, live animals, hides and skins and khat, a mild narcotic. Very recently flower was listed as one of the country’s main foreign currency generating export items.

Gold rush

The Trade Ministry’s report shows that gold is now the country’s second foreign currency earner securing US$ 179.2 million of the total export revenue generated within the six month period.

Coffee, the country’s main foreign currency earner, maintained its leading position with US$ 320 million, the report revealed.

According to this year’s 6-month export performance data, obtained from
the of Ministry of Trade, oil seeds, which was the second largest export item last year in terms of foreign exchange earnings, lost its place to gold and is now listed as Ethiopia’s 4th foreign exchange earner.

The country earned US$ 76.6 million from the export of live animals (in 5th place), followed by flower exports with US$ 76.5 million.

The rise in gold export earnings, in the last two years alone, shows a
dramatic change for Ethiopia’s agriculture based economy. The precious metal generated US$ 300 million in the 2009/10 fiscal year, almost tripling the US$ 105 million earned in the 2008/09 fiscal year.

Ethiopia’s mining sector has recently been attracting foreign mining companies. And Monday, the London-listed gold exploration firm, Stratex International Plc announced its plan to start mining gold and silver in the northern part of Ethiopia.

Stratex said in a statement that it had acquired 75 per cent of the
AbiAdi project in northern Ethiopia which has a significant corridor of high-grade gold-silver deposits.

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