Ethiopia: Country Overview

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 94.1 million.

Ethiopia's capital is Addis Ababa, in the centre of the country, which has a population of 3.38 million. Centamin's exploration licence areas are in Tigray, the northernmost of the nine ethnic regions of Ethiopia and towards the south and west of Ethiopia in the Oromiya region and Benishangul Gumuz region (held as part of the joint venture with Alecto Minerals plc).


Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe has served as Prime Minister of Ethiopia since 2012.

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 with Agriculture accounting 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.

Mining Legislation

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.