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PanAfriL10n - PanAfrLoc - Ethiopia

Ethiopia - Ethiopie - ኢትዮጵያ (ET)

1.  Language information / Données sur les langues

1.1  Languages spoken / Langues parlées

a) Official / Officielle(s) :

According to Article 5 of the constitution (as shown in Aménagement linguistique) Amharic is the "working language" of government. In the same article, all languages are equally acknowledged by the state. (Technically then there is no "official language" but apparently Amharic serves this role de facto since it is the working language of government.)

b) National, indigenous / Nationale(s), indigène(s) :

Each state may choose a working language (Amharic, Tigrinya, Oromo, Afar, Somali, Harar). Aménagement linguistique features a table showing which languages have been chosen where.

Over 80 languages are spoken. Ethnologue has an extensive list at http://www.ethnologue.com/show_country.asp?name=ET

Linguistic and Ethnic Groups as Percentages of Population (Dutcher 2004):

  • Amharic: 33% (including second language speakers)
  • Oromo (Southern, Eastern, West-Central): 26%
  • Somali: 5%
  • Tigrigna: 5%
  • Sidamo (Sidama): 3%
  • Gamo-Gofa-Dawro: 2%
  • Afar: 2%
  • Gurage (East): 2%
  • Hadiyya: 2%
  • Wolyatta: 2%
  • Gurage (West): 1%
  • Gedeo: 1%
  • Kaficho (Kefa): 1%
  • Kambatta (Kambaata): 1%
  • Other: 14%
  • Languages less than 1% with more than 100,000 speakers: Aari, Alaba (Halaba), Awngi, Bench (Gimira), Berta (Wetawit), Gumuz, Komso, Koorete, Xamtanga

c) Relevant pages in the Major Languages section of this report / Pages appropriées dans la section de ce rapport sur les Langues principales :

Amharic, Tigrinya, Oromo, Sidamo, Gurage, Somali, Nuer

1.2  Language policy / Politique de langue

a) Laws/legislation / Lois/législation :

The site L'aménagement linguistique dans le monde has a page on Ethiopia at http://www.tlfq.ulaval.ca/axl/afrique/ethiopie.htm

b) Agencies / Agences :

c) Languages in education/literacy / Langues dans l'éducation/l'alphabétisation :

Ethnologue says that Amharic is used in "education to seventh grade in many areas."

According to Dutcher (2004), "Regional languages are the media of instruction for primary education. English is the medium of instruction for secondary and higher education. Both English and Amharic are taught as subjects from Grade 1."

UNDP (2006) gives a literacy figure (without reference to which language[s]) of: 42%

1.3  Writing in national/indigenous languages / Ecriture en langues nationales/indigènes

a) Orthographies / Orthographes :

Ethiopic (also called Ge'ez in Eritrea is used for Amharic and Tigrinya. The Arabic script is used for Arabic. The Latin script is used for some other languages. [verify and also if it uses extended characters]

b) Print publications / Editions imprimées :

Ethnologue notes that there is a "wide variety of literature (fiction, poetry, plays, magazines)" in Amharic.

UNESCO (1985) reported the following periodicals (name, frequency of publication, circulation, language). Updated information is needed:

1.4  Other comments / Autre commentaire

2.  ICT situation / Situation des TIC

2.1  Infrastructure / Infrastructure

a) Telephones / Téléphones :

  • Fixed lines:
    • Telephone mainlines: 4 per 1000 people (APC)
    • Telephones - main lines in use: 740,250 (2006) (Wikipedia)
  • Mobile subscriptions:

b) Radio stations / Stations de radio :

Radio broadcast stations: AM 8, FM 3, shortwave 1 (2001) (CIA)

c) Connectivity / Connectivité :

  • International internet bandwidth / Bande passante internationale d'internet :
  • ISPs / FSI :
  • Internet hosts :
    • 88 (2006) (CIA)
    • 86 on .et domain (ISC 2007)
  • Geographic coverage / Couverture géographique :

2.2  Computer & internet access / Accès aux ordinateurs et à l'internet

a) Computers & points of access / Ordinateurs et lieux d'accès :

  • Number of computers / Nombre d'ordinateurs: 1.1 per 1000 people (APC)
  • Cybercafés / Cybercafés:
    • "Hundreds of village telephone kiosks (souks) have been operating for over 20 years, providing telephone services 'illegally' because they were contravening the policy that makes ETC the sole provider of telephone services." (Towards an African e-Index)
    • "Internet cyber cafés began to appear on the scene in 2000 and their numbers have been growing in the capital and spreading throughout the country. Like village kiosks, cyber cafés were originally discouraged because they were contravening the policy that makes ETC the sole provider of ICT services. ... Despite the poor quality of the dial-up connection, which in itself is shared among five to six cyber café users, there has been a considerable increase in the usage of cyber cafés, particularly by visitors to Ethiopia, people with relatives outside of the country and students." (Towards an African e-Index)
  • Project telecentres / Télécentres de projets:
    • "Despite efforts by institutions like the British Council, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Organization de la Francophonie to introduce pilot community centres throughout the country, Ethiopia has limited experience of public telecentres." (Towards an African e-Index)

b) Internet / Internet :

  • Dial-up subscribers / Abonnés par ligne téléphonique :
  • Internet users / Utilisateurs de l'internet : 113,000 Internet users as of Sept/05, 0.2% of the population, per ITU (Internet World Stats)

"Access to the Internet is partly hampered by lack of computers at household levels but is also due to limited telephone penetration. Only 2.2% of those surveyed said that a member of the household had access to computers. The principal point of access of the Internet was the workplace, followed by cyber cafés." (Towards an African e-Index)

c) Other / Autre :

  • Digital Opportunity Index (DOI): 0.09 (ITU 2006)

"The ICT sector in Ethiopia is still characterised by a low penetration of services, including fixed-line telephones and mobile and internet services." (Chekol in GISW 2007)

2.3  ICT policy / Politique de TIC

Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) is the telecommunications company.

"Ethiopia’s monopoly market structure and a policy where a sole operator provides fixed, mobile and Internet services has been a major stumbling block for innovation and widespread access to communication services. Although access to telecommunications has improved over the last two years, it trails far behind the levels of access in other countries." (Towards an African e-Index)

"Although Ethiopia was active in developing a national ICT policy for sometime, it has remained one of the slowest in terms of translating policy efforts into concrete actions." (UNECA/AISI)

"In recent years, the government of Ethiopia has tried to take advantage of ICTs in a bid to accelerate the rate of economic growth. To this end, it is conducting multi-sectoral projects. The objective of these projects is to deliver IP-based services through the use of broadband terrestrial and VSAT (satellite) infrastructure." (Chekol in GISW 2007)

Ethiopian Information and Communication Technology Development Agency (EICTDA):

Information on Ethiopia's NICI (National Information and Communications Infrastructure) policy process is available via

The APC page, "ICT Policy in Ethiopia" has some information and links: http://rights.apc.org/africa/index.shtml?apc=s21841e_1

2.4  ICT4D/E & ICT training / TIC pour le développement/éducation, et formation en TIC

WikiEducator has a page on ICTs and education, including table on enabling and constraining factors, at http://www.wikieducator.org/ICT4Africa/Country_Report_Ethiopia

2.5  Resources / Ressources

  • Ethiopian Free and Open Source Software Network (EFOSSNET) http://www.efossnet.org/
  • Ethiopian ITC Professionals Association

3.  Localisation situation / Situation de localisation

3.1  Country web content / Contenu web du pays

3.2  Web content in indigenous languages / Contenu web en langues indigènes

(See also specific language pages.)

3.3  Software localisation / Localisation de logiciel

(See also specific language pages.)

3.4  Projects & organisations / Projets et organisations

3.5  Localisation policy / Politique de localisation

4.  References / Références

Adam, Lishan, with Kifle Woldekidan. 2005. "Ethiopia." In Gillwald, Alison (ed.), Towards an African e-Index: Household and individual ICT Access and Usage Across 10 African Countries. (Research ICT Africa!, http://www.researchictafrica.net/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=504 )

APC, "ICT Policy in Ethiopia," Africa ICT Policy Monitor, http://rights.apc.org/africa/index.shtml?apc=s21841e_1

Chekol, Abebe. "Ethiopia." Global Information Society Watch (GISW) 2007 Report http://globaliswatch.org/en/node/460

Dutcher, Nadine. 2004. Expanding Educational Opportunity in Linguistically Diverse Societies, 2nd. ed. Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics. http://www.cal.org/resources/pubs/expand.html

International Telecommunications Union (ITU). 2006. World Information Society Report 2006. Geneva: ITU. http://www.itu.int/osg/spu/publications/worldinformationsociety/2006/wisr-web.pdf

______. 2004. African Telecommunication Indicators 2004. Geneva: ITU.

Internet World Stats: Africa. 2006. http://internetworldstats.com/africa.htm

Leclerc, Jacques. L'aménagement linguistique dans le monde, "Éthiopie," http://www.tlfq.ulaval.ca/axl/afrique/ethiopie.htm

Research ICT Africa! "E-Access & Usage Index: Ethiopia Report," http://www.researchictafrica.net/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=496

SIL International, Ethnologue: Languages of the World, "Languages of Ethiopia," http://www.ethnologue.com/show_country.asp?name=ET

__________, "Amharic," http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=amh

UNDP. 2006. ''Beyond scarcity: Power, poverty and the global water crisis. Human Development Report 2006.'' New York: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). [Human development index Adult literacy rate (% ages 15 and older) (HDI) http://hdr.undp.org/hdr2006/statistics/indicators/3.html ]

UNECA/AISI (2005?) "NICI Country Pages: Ethiopia" http://www.uneca.org/aisi/nici/Ethiopia/ethiopia.htm

UNESCO Regional Office for Education in Africa. 1985. African Community Languages and Their Use in Literacy and Education: A Regional Survey. Dakar: UNESCO.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), "The World Factbook: Ethiopia" https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/et.html

Vodafone. 2005. "Africa: The Impact of Mobile Phones." The Vodafone Policy Paper Series, Number 3, March 2005. http://www.vodafone.com/assets/files/en/GPP%20SIM%20paper.pdf

WikiEducator, "ICT4Africa/Country Report Ethiopia," http://www.wikieducator.org/ICT4Africa/Country_Report_Ethiopia

Wikipedia, "Communications in Ethiopia," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communications_in_Ethiopia

______, "Languages of Ethiopia," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Ethiopia

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