By William Foreman
During his many trips to Ethiopia, Prashant Yadav used to be surrounded by aid workers on flights to the country. But lately, he’s noticed that his fellow passengers are working for large financial firms in London that are investing in the East African country.
“Ethiopia is the second most populous country on the African continent after Nigeria,” said Yadav, a senior research fellow at the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
“Gradually, what we are starting to see is that a lot of companies are thinking about the potential demand for consumer products, electronics, infrastructure and other things. That is what is driving huge growth, at least in Addis Ababa,” said Yadav, who also holds faculty appointments at U-M’s Ross School of Business and the School of Public Health.
Ethiopia’s economy has been growing between 8 percent and 10 percent in recent years. Giant billboards around Addis Ababa advertise chilled bottles of Heineken beer or the latest Samsung smart phones. Cranes are busy constructing high-rise buildings, and a mass-transit tram system is being built on elevated tracks.
Yadav is researching Ethiopia’s health-care system and will soon return to the country this summer. He’s particularly interested in how private hospitals, which traditionally cater to the wealthy, can expand their customer base to include patients who aren’t among the super rich. I’ll write more about that in a later post.