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Living in Ethiopia
A practical guide to the way of life in Ethiopia
Life in Ethiopia is not without its challenges, but that doesn’t mean expats can’t make a life and succeed here! The people are very friendly and schooling is generally of a good standard, so you can settle down with your family and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Read our article to know how!
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Life in Ethiopia
Healthcare in Ethiopia
Ethiopia’s healthcare system is in a state of development, although things are gradually improving. Conditions are better in the cities, where access to doctors and hospitals is easier. There are 119 hospitals, with 12 located in Addis Ababa, and 412 healthcare centers throughout the country.
Medical services are provided free of charge. However, as the standard of public healthcare is generally lower than in western countries, it is advised to take out an expatriate health insurance plan before you depart.
Education in Ethiopia
The standard of education in Ethiopia is on the rise, with the government committed to improving schooling for more rural areas, including teaching in their own languages. Children have eight years of primary school, two years of lower secondary school, and two years of higher secondary school.
Ethiopia still has a lot of ground to cover in terms of literacy, though, with 49.1% of males and 28.9% of females being able to read and write according to the 2007 census.
Transportation in Ethiopia
Ethiopia has a fairly well developed transport infrastructure, with one of its key assets being 681 kilometers of railway, the track from Addis Ababa to Djibouti City comprising the majority of this length. In 2015, the line is being improved and extended to 756 kilometers, and this will halve the travel time between the cities to under ten hours, reaching speeds of 120 kilometers per hour.
Ethiopia also has good air links, with 58 airports. International flights depart from and arrive at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa and the Aba Tenna Dejazmach Yilma International Airport in Dire Dawa. Ethiopian Airlines, the country’s flagship airline, reaches 62 international destinations and 16 domestic ones from these points.
The Ethiopian government also recently undertook a ten-year plan to upgrade the country’s paved and gravel roads, and, for example, managed to increase its share of quality roads to 89% of federal roads by 2009. When it comes to driving in Ethiopia, it’s very much a case of judging other road users and trusting your instincts, especially in the cities, as there are minimal road markings or other things that might be taken for granted elsewhere.
For example, Meskel Square, a massively busy intersection in Addis Ababa center, has no traffic lights or other provisions to direct the flow of traffic. Ethiopia does have a low standard of driving in general, and you should always take great care. Avoid driving after dark in rural areas as there is no lighting and random hazards could occur, such as people and animals in the road.
You need to get an International Driving Permit to drive there, and then obtain a temporary Ethiopian driver’s license. To do this, you need to get your own national license authenticated at your country’s embassy, fill in a certificate issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and provide two photos. Driving is on the right. There is actually no law against drinking and driving in Ethiopia, but given the general conditions on the roads, you’d have to be foolhardy indeed to get behind the wheel after having a few.
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