It is home to the original coffee plant and some of the oldest Christian temples. But Ethiopia is also being viewed as an investor’s choice in Africa.
The past is never easy, especially this close to the Middle East. Centuries of despotic if benevolent rule by kings came to an end when Emperor Haile Selassie was overthrown in 1974. The Red Terror followed forces loyal to Colonel Mariam Mengistu oversaw the death of almost two million Ethiopians.
The country is now at peace though not a working democracy, but the government in Addis Ababa aims for middle-income status.
Ethiopia has given priority to construction industries and textile making, with incentives to draw investors.
The state has done away with many tariff and non-tariff barriers, and relaxed foreign investment in banking, and insurance. There are still some state-controlled sectors but also joint ventures in electricity, telecommunication, even the postal service.
Textiles have blossomed on the back of new agricultural policy, with small-scale farmers renting land to companies.
If an investor exports 50% of their product, they are tax exempt for five years. Basing your project in less-developed regions like Afar or Gambella means no income tax for 12 month.
And you can freely remit your profits and dividends.
Ethiopia wants to improve its road and rail network along with schools, housing and hospitals, and construction materials may be imported duty-free.
For the first time in decades, there is a peaceful and stable environment conducive to business. And the mountain of paperwork once needed to apply for anything is down to a page or two.
A unique cuisine once limited to the region has found fame around the world, as has the coffee bean, Ethiopia’s gift to the world.
And if Addis can get its act right, the world might come to Ethiopia.