The 2nd National Job Summit took place at the Sheraton Addis on August 15 and 16. A half-day was dedicated to the Enkopa Summit with B2B interactions, two-panel sessions, and pitches by entrepreneurs.

It is to be recalled that Enkopa is a national movement to celebrate and promote Ethiopian Entrepreneurship stories, especially untold ones, to encourage all stakeholders (engineers, startupers, ecosystem builders, entrepreneurs, policymakers, educators, etc.) to build a thriving Entrepreneurship ecosystem. It is a movement with a pan-African ambition, to increase collaboration between African countries and collectively own the narrative on Entrepreneurship, to essentially re-brand the African continent.

The two Enkopa panel sessions centered around building and Digital Entrepreneurship Ecosystem and a FROG (Freelancing, Outsourcing, and Gig) Economy. H.E Muferiat Kamil, Minister at the Ministry of Labor and Skills was present along with many public officials, entrepreneurs, representatives from large corporations as well as development partners.

The sessions were rich in key and new insights- here are the main takeaways:

Ethiopia is situated in a triangle of a high unemployment rate, a large population of youth, and limited entry-to-mid level career opportunities.

The labor environment presents many challenges: labor laws and workers’ rights are limited, unemployment and underemployment are high, and the informal sector remains significant.

These challenges can be turned into a major opportunity. Without a burdensome legacy system, Ethiopia has the possibility to leapfrog into the future of work, where gig and freelance workers can perform multiple missions and tasks, leveraging different skills while earning a decent wage.

Informal gig workers exist in the millions. Digital platforms for gig work are recently emerging, there is a great potential for them to scale to create millions of decent jobs in the next few years.

2 million individuals enter the labor market each year; The economy needs to create close to 8 thousand jobs every business day.

Every year, more than 300,000 students graduate with a STEM degree.

Education has been in the top 3 government budget expenditure for the last few years and the country hosts one of the largest pools of educated talent on the continent.

Digital platforms for freelance work are also emerging, there is a great potential for them to scale to create thousands of decent jobs in the next few years.

Ethiopia has a great potential to become an offshoring hub for multinationals looking to relocate their middle and back-office processes. Cheap electricity, internet redundancy, and labor arbitrage are the main traits of the country in this sector. CCI, one of the largest BPO companies in Africa, announced last week it launched operations from Ethiopia. More of such logos need to be attracted to Ethiopia.

Traditionally startup support programs have been led by development partners present in Ethiopia; However, this is not sustainable. Going forward, incubation, acceleration, and venture capital investment in local startups need to be led by large corporations who are sitting on extra cash like Ethiopian Airlines, Ethio Telecom, and Banks in a win-win format.