Ethiopia Economic Sectors

Products soil, agriculture, livestock, fishing, mining. – Ethiopia is a predominantly agricultural and pastoral country. The cultivation of cereals, especially that of barley, sorghum, millet, maize and, to a lesser extent, wheat, is practiced with rudimentary means by the indigenous people in the region of the plateau, but to an extent limited to the family consumption of every grower, and only in part is the subject of internal trade. In the lower territories of the south and in the vicinity of Lake Tana, tropical plants are grown, such as coffee, whose products are also exported. Coffee cultivation has been undertaken again in the southern territories (especially by Belgian planters), where the precious shrub also grows spontaneously and forms real forests in some places.

The riches of the subsoil still remain largely unexplored. Various concessions for the related research were granted to European companies, of which only some were exploited, for the excavation of platinum ores, such as at Jubdo (Yubdō) on the river Birbir, and potash (Danakil sett.). The exploitation of the Walleggà gold mines already practiced a few years ago seems to be in decline. The collection of salt in the natural salt pans that are formed in the danakil depression is of considerable importance.

Industry, trade, coins. – The industry, of very little importance, is limited to the tanning and processing of leather, to the home weaving of cotton, to the processing of iron for weapons and basic necessities, to that of silver, especially in filigree, the coinage of Maria Theresa’s thalers, to the manufacture of a few crockery, etc.

Given the limited production, the poor needs of the population and the difficulties of the means of communication, trade is still of little importance. The internal one is concentrated in markets that are periodically held in certain places where caravans from different parts of the empire converge, bringing local products that they exchange especially with salt and with products of the European industry. Addis Ababa is considered the main market, where tens of thousands of people are believed to flock. Gondar, Sokota (Saqoṭā) and Dessiè are also very popular markets.

There is no precise or sure information about external traffic. From the information gathered, it would have reached the value of 928 million in 1928 and would have developed in the ratio of 80% for the way of Djibouti, of 15.3% for Eritrea, of 2.9% for Sudan, of the 1.2% for British Somalia and 0.5% for Italian Somalia. External traffic is therefore mainly carried out on the way to Djibouti. A non-negligible part takes the road to Massawa and a part that of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, taking advantage of the concession granted by the Ethiopian government to the English in the Gambela station on the Baro river (Sobat), where river navigation can be activated for a few months. In recent years there has been a trend towards an increase in imports of manufactured products and a decrease or at least a stationarity in exports. These are limited to coffee, skins and wax. The absorption markets for Ethiopian exports are England, Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, Holland, Czechoslovakia. Imports for Italy, represented almost entirely by skins, showed a significant increase in 1928 compared to 1927 (from 584 thousand lire they rose to over two and a half million). Among the imported kinds, the first place is the cottons, supplied to a large extent by Japan, Belgium, America and in part also by Italy. This especially imports hats, cars, automobiles, artificial silk yarns and fabrics. An imported product is salt, which in the Southern Ethiopia is introduced by rail from the salt pans of Djibouti, while for central Ethiopia it comes from the Piano del Sale in the Danakil depression, where the monopoly of collection and traffic is exercised by the local Muslim populations. The salt is transported by means of camels and mules on the plateau and distributed on the various markets where it also serves as currency-merchandise. Fishing, which is carried out in Lake Tana and in the smaller lake basins scattered throughout the region, as well as in the rivers, is practiced to a limited extent by the coastal populations for their internal consumption, without however giving rise to an exchange trade of any entity.. For Ethiopia business, please check

The coin in constant use in Ethiopia is still the Maria Theresa thaler, a silver shield with a title of 833.66, a diameter of 39.5 millimeters and a weight of 28.0668 grams, bearing the date of 1780, which until in the middle of the last century it was the most widely used currency in the various countries of the East. In 1897 (1889 era Abyssinian) the Emperor Menelik minted a dollar in Paris with his effigy and various divisional coins (1 / 2, 1 / 4, 1 / 8, 1 / 16of thaler); and subsequently other thalers were also minted in 1918 in Rome (Eritrean thaler) trying to introduce its use, without however succeeding in replacing the ancient Austrian currency, of wider recognition. Its value fluctuates according to the value of the silver (around 4.50 lire in 1930). Instead, the divisional coins bearing the effigy of Menelik have come into use everywhere, but have their own exchange, which is often independent from that of the Maria Theresa thaler. It is announced that the current emperor intends to stabilize the value of the Ethiopian currency in the golden type.

Communication. – Ethiopia, it can be said, lacks real roads along its entire extension, but internal communications are ensured by a network of paths naturally formed by the constant passage of man and mounts, without any work of art has intervened to improve the layout and make it suitable for vehicles. Only in the last few years has a truckable of about 50 km been built from the capital to Addis Alem; and another was built in the Baro valley (Sobat) between Bure and Gambela. Only one railway crosses Ethiopia: the one that starts from the French port of Djibouti and ends in Addis Ababa. This railway, built by a French company, open to traffic up to Dire Daua station (Dĭrrē Dāwā, Dirḍabo nell’Harar; 309 km.) In 1903, continued up to the Ethiopian capital and completed in 1915, it has a total development of 783 km., of which 693 in Ethiopian territory. Passenger trains run twice a week in both directions; but the potential of the line for its construction is very low: with all this it is capable, as was said, of absorbing the4 / 5 of the international trade of Abyssinia.

By an agreement concluded on August 2, 1928 between Italy and Abyssinia, this authorized the construction, across the Abyssinian territory, of a truckable road intended to connect the market of Dessiè (capital of the Wollo Galla) with Assab, in whose port a free zone was granted to Ethiopia. Thus Ethiopia will be able to have a free commercial outlet on the sea. A telegraph network (3500 km.) Connects Ethiopia with Eritrea to the north, with French Somalia to the east and thus a telephone network (2200 km.) Puts the capital in direct communication with the main dependent residences. Work is underway for the installation of a powerful radiotelegraphic station in Addis Ababa and others in the smaller towns of Ethiopia; works all entrusted to the Italian company Ansaldo.

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