Ethiopia: Country Overview
Ethiopia is a landlocked country in north-east Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan and has a population of 84.9 million.
Ethiopia's capital is Addis Ababa, in the centre of the country, which has a population of 2.9 million. Centamin's 4 exploration licence areas are in Tigray, the northernmost of the nine ethnic regions of Ethiopia.
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) won a fourth term in elections held in May 2010.
Ethiopia is regarded as one of Africa's most stable countries, and is becoming one of the leading economic, diplomatic and political forces on the continent.
Economy and Currency
Ethiopia has a strong emerging economy and GDP was expected to grow by 9% in 2011. Agriculture accounts for almost 45% of GDP and 85% of total employment. Coffee, hides, oilseeds, beeswax and sugarcane are the main exports.
The Ethiopian currency is the Birr (ETB) and it is divided into 100 cents.
Like Egypt, Ethiopia is situated on the Arabian-Nubian Shield and rich gold deposits are found throughout this region. Historically it has been underexplored and now there is an emerging gold mining industry with significant artisanal gold mining activities. There is an operating gold mine owned by a private company in the south of the country and other London-listed exploration and development companies are also present.
The Ethiopian mining industry is governed by the Modern Mining Act (proclamation) effected in 2010. The enshrinement in law of a mining code demonstrates the Ethiopian government's support for the mining industry and government policies are favourable towards mining companies.
The terms of the Modern Mining Act are as follows:
5% government free-carried interest in mining projects
Corporate tax of 35% with negotiable breaks and holidays
Royalty of 8% at the discretion of the Minister
Exemption from customs duties, carry forward on losses for 10 years
Languages and Religion
A variety of religions are practiced in Ethiopia. 43% of the population are Ethiopian Orthodox, 34% are Muslim and 19% are Protestant.
The four main languages spoken in Ethiopia are Amharic (the official language), Oromo, Tigrinya and Somali. English is the principal foreign language taught in schools.
Ethiopia is Africa's oldest independent country and its second largest in terms of population. Apart from a five-year occupation by Mussolini's Italy, it has never been colonised.