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What is the Ethiopian Birr (ETB)?

Credit Ratings & Outlook

Sovereign credit ratings play an important part in determining a country’s access to international capital markets, and the terms of that access. Sovereign ratings help to foster dramatic growth, stability, and efficiency of international and domestic markets.


In 2010 the total GDP was $29,717,009,195 in US Dollars, while the per capita GDP was $358. It grew by 10.14% over the previous year.


The latest unemployment rate for 2009 is 9.99%.

Consumer Price Index

The latest consumer price index for 2010 is 223.00.

Political Structure

The current head of the government is Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, and the head of state is President Girma Wolde-Giorgis (in a ceremonial role).

Currency Details

The Birr, denoted by ETB, is the unit of currency used in Ethiopia. The first currency of Ethiopia was introduced in 1894 and was known as the “Menelik talers.” In 1934, the occupying Italian forces made the Italian lire the legal currency in Ethiopia untiltheir expulsion in 1942. The Ethiopian Birr was finally introduced in 1945, first called the Ethiopian dollar and was only renamed the Birr in 1979.

Coins in circulation are 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents. Banknotes in circulation are 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 Birr.

1 birr can be divided into 100 cents.

Sovereign Ratings for Ethiopia

Ethiopia is not rated.

Moody’s Rating
S&P Rating

What does it look like?

Political Structure

Ethiopia’s chief of state is the President who is elected by the House of People’s Representatives for a six-year term. The head of government is prime minister and is designated by the party in power following legislative elections. The Cabinet is made up of a Council of Ministers, as provided for in the December 1994 constitution. Cabinet members are selected by the prime minister and approved by the House of People’s Representatives.

The legislative branch is made up of a bicameral Parliament consisting of the House of Federation or upper chamber (117 seats; members are chosen by state assemblies to serve five-year terms) and the House of People’s Representatives or lower chamber (548 seats; members are directly elected by popular vote from single-member districts to serve five-year terms).

The judicial branch in Ethiopia is centered on the Federal Supreme Court; the president and vice president of the Federal Supreme Court are recommended by the prime minister and appointed by the House of People’s Representatives; for other federal judges, the prime minister submits candidates selected by the Federal Judicial Administrative Council to the House of People’s Representatives for appointment.

Prominent Figures

President: Girma Wolde-Giyorgis Lucha
Prime Minister: Meles Zenawi
National Bank of Ethiopia Governor: Atnafu, Teklewold

Unique Characteristics

Political and economic data has been skewed so severely by the AIDS virus that estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS. This can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected.

Key Economic Factors

Economic Overview: Ethiopia’s economy is based on agriculture, which constitutes half of GDP, 60% of exports, and 80% of total employment. The agricultural sector suffers from frequent droughts and poor cultivation practices. Coffee has served as a mainstay in the Ethiopian economy, with exports amounting in the hundreds of millions. The war with Eritrea in 1998-2000 and droughts have hindered the economy, particularly slowing coffee production. Since then, Ethiopia has qualified for debt relief from the Highly Indebted Poor Countries initiative and has been working toward economic recovery.

Main Trading Partners: Saudi Arabia 25%, US 15.9%, China 6.7% (2004).

Import Commodities: Food and live animals, petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, machinery, motor vehicles, cereals and textiles.

Export Commodities: Coffee, qat, gold, leather products, live animals and oilseeds.

Industries: Food processing, beverages, textiles, chemicals, metals processing and cement.

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