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Feleg Tsegaye is an American-born Ethiopian who previously worked in IT at the US Federal Reserve. He recently moved to Addis to found ArifMobile, a phone and sim card rental service for tourists, and knows these challenges well.
"People aren’t always sure of the laws. They seem fluid and changing depending on who you talk to," he says of Ethiopia’s regulatory environment.
For example, only after multiple trips to the Ministry of Business to register his company did he discover business names cannot be adjectives.
Then, it took months to get an internet connection in his office thanks to notoriously slow state-owned Ethio Telecom.
In the World Economic Form’s Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013, Ethiopia ranks almost dead last.
Of 144 countries, it’s ranked below 130 in technological readiness, competitiveness, and access to financial services and loans.
Perhaps one of the reasons for such a dismal competitive environment is when it comes to technology, the government is often both the biggest competitor and biggest client.
Most large companies are either state-owned, or partially state-owned, and there is a certain degree of distrust between private and public sectors resulting in the government taking a very security-conscious approach, according to Mr Tsegaye.
"Government is the prime consumer for services in IT, but they are frustrated, in part because their policies are inhibiting private sector growth," he says.
The BBC reports on Ethiopia’s lagging technological advances, in comparison the rest of Africa, and the challenges that both citizens and businesses face in adapting to the red tape and lack of access to essential resources (Skype and other VoIP (voice over internet protocol) services are banned for business purposes) in a country where less than 1% of of Africa’s second most populous country’s 85m citizens are connected to the internet, and mobile penetration is at just 17%.