Ambassador Mark Green travels to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for a conference with the Aspen Institute, “Africa’s Emergence: Challenges and Opportunities for the United States.” Along the way, he shares his thoughts with the IGD community.
Today I visited ECX, the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange, which has a remarkable story to tell. It was started by one of IGD’s Frontier Leaders, Ms. Eleni Gabre-Madhin, is run by a nonprofit organization with a steering board of directors – six government representatives and five private business representatives. It is the commodity exchange for coffee, but also four other agricultural commodities – including sesame oil and chick peas. It currently has more than 300 members, representing more than 2.5 million farmers in Ethiopia. It handles more than 2.65 million tons of product and facilitates over $5 billion worth of trade. To handle the coffee transactions, it sends key market data out across the country, using 90 rural electronic ticker boards and an 800,000-subscriber strong SMS text messaging service.
ECX was created five years ago to take on the problems of poor information sharing, uneven quality and money being absorbed by “middle men” (and not farmers themselves). It utilizes standard trading contracts, market data dissemination through internet and movile technology. It also helps farmers with risk management that is needed in commodities markets.
What a tremendous use of ICT technology, and how luck was I to get to tour this facility firsthand! This also exemplifies the tremendous work of IGD’s Frontier Leaders, on the forefront of some exciting developments throughout Africa!