Tag Archive for Abeba

Driving in Addis Abeba

For driving in Addis Abeba you don’t need special skills; just don’t think about traffic-rules and you will blend in nicely. Driving on the opposite lane of the ring-road, stop on the middle of the road to telephone, don’t look when changing lanes, et cetera. Anyway, in this blog I’ll give some practical tips for expats coming to Addis Abeba and dare to drive a car.



When you get to Addis Abeba, you’ll most likely want to hire a car. There are plenty taxi’s, however, you’ll pay around 700,- ETB per day for hiring one. A car can be rented for example at ABC car rental next to Edna Mall. Or ask around and you will find someone who will rent you his private car (300,- / 400,- ETB). It’s not legal; just say to the police that you borrowed the car from a friend. One important warning, if you hit a pedestrian, even if (s)he jumped in front of your car on purpose, you WILL end up in jail.

IMG_1225Picture of cab drove into market.

Drivers license.

After three months of residing in Ethiopia, you need to have an Ethiopian drivers license. Ethiopia is one of the few countries (among Vietnam & North Korea) where you are not allowed to drive with you international recognized drivers license. An Ethiopian license needs to be obtained. Don’t worry that you have to take lessons again (that would be ironic), worry about the bureaucracy. It can drive you to madness!

140623 driving final

Step 1: go to your embassy and leave your license for an official translation (777,- ETB @Dutch embassy). KEEP THE RECEIPT! KEEP THE RECEIPT!

Step 2) pick up your license and the translation from the embassy.

Step 3) go to Ministry of Internal affairs (between Josef Tito Street & Zewditu Street) and legalize the translated document. You need to prove that you paid for the translation, therefore the receipt. Don’t argue with Ethiopian reason.

Step 4) take 2 passport photographs (they have to be the same).

Step 5) go to your sub-city road authorities. Bring all the receipts. You will need someone to help you filling in the documents because they are in Amharic. You’ll pay 10 ETB here, 100 ETB there, fill in more documents and voila, you may officially drive like a nutcase.

Buying a car.

Cars are very expensive in Ethiopia, unless you have a duty-free or other kind of status. You can buy a car from a dealer or from a friend of a friend of a friend. Often you will have to deal with ‘brokers’. Some of these brokers can be a pain in the ass. The usual broker fee is 2% from the selling price from the buyer and/or 2% from the selling party.

IMG_1272This car is a joke!

It’s normal to take the car of interest to a garage of your own choice for a check-up. Make sure that the car-papers are in order. A contract is then written, signed additionally by three witnesses and an advance is paid. Then, it all starts to get fuzzy and it’s the moment when the broker has to make his money worth.


The transfer of ownership is done at the road-authority bureau where the car is registered. First, you need to get a document, similar as the contract, which also needs to be signed by the three witnesses. Tax has to be paid around 2% of the selling price. IMPORTANT, don’t give the price that you actually paid for the car! You might as well write down that you paid 1 ETB for the car. The road-authorities will then make their own estimation of what the car is worth, which is usually much lower than the actual price. Otherwise, they will charge tax over the higher amount that you put in the documents. Next, papers need to be legalized or authenticated at an ‘authentication office’. It’s a sort of notary. Questions will be asked, if there are any remaining payments and if everything is understood. In between, two (same) passport photo’s have to be made. Then, go to the bank to pay a fee. Go back to the authentication office. Collect all papers.


Go back to the road authorities, fill in some more documents and then finally, the car is yours. A tip, keep an eye on ALL papers, documents and receipts. You may even want to take a picture of each paper slip with your mobile phone, just in case.

IMG_1336At the road authorities.


Once a year, the car needs a technical checkup (200, ETB) and a sticker is placed on your windscreen. Furthermore, car insurance needs to be bought. Full coverage for a mediocre car will cost around 5000,- ETB per year.

IMG_1223Somali Police car.

I think that’s it. Hopefully you found some useful tips in this blog. I wish you good luck (!) driving in Ethiopia.

Do you want to know how to do the annual car inspection in Ethiopia? Read this blog.

Driving in Addis from Rob Hove on Vimeo.

Proposal for a research partnership in Addis Abeba

International Clinical Laboratories. Addis Abebe, Ethiopia.


Prepared by: Dr. Mesfin Nigussie, Medical Director & Dr. Ir. Robert-Jan ten Hove, Parasitologist

Ethiopia – Country profile

Unique among African countries, the ancient Ethiopian monarchy, that maintained its freedom throughout the history. Ethiopia is home to numerous cultures, religions and languages and its total population is estimated at 93,877,025 (July 2013 est.). The climate of Ethiopia is as diverse as the geographical areas. The highest mountain, Ras Dashen rises to an impressive 4620 meters, while the Dalol depression is located 130 meters below sea level. Disease patterns follow this diverse geographical and ethnic diversity. Infectious diseases rank top among public health problems while non-communicable “western” disease are on the rise at an alarming rate.

About International Clinical Laboratories

International Clinical Laboratories (ICL) is a private diagnostic facility, established in Ethiopia in 2004. The mission of ICL is to contribute to the health of the nation while guarantying that the services are both affordable and of high quality. It is the only clinical diagnostic laboratory that is accredited by Joint Commission International (JCI) in sub-Saharan Africa.


ICL main facility is located in the capital, Addis Ababa and houses the main laboratory. The laboratory has over 200 test menus and performs clinical chemistry, hematology, immunoassays, molecular diagnostics, bacteriology, parasitology and mycology. In addition it is in the process of establishing a histopathology / cytopathology section.

The ICL is continuously expanding its operations with patient service centers all over the nation and, in the near future across the East-African region. At the service centers, samples are collected and transported to the main testing facility in Addis Ababa. ICL has unprecedented reach in laboratory services in Ethiopia. This gives us the opportunity to get biological specimens from all over the country and, as such, gives a valuable research opportunity.

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 10.54.20 ICL service centers on 1/08/2014

Besides the expansion of testing services, the management of ICL envisions that public health will benefits most by preventive measures. Promoting healthy lifestyle and focus on upcoming healthcare problems will have a more positive impact on the public health than diagnosing and treating the diseases. Scientific research will help understand the healthcare problems that the country has to deal with today, and in the future.

Profile of guest researcher

For the continual improvement of the laboratory services, the ICL is keen on attracting health professionals. We are therefore inviting researchers who are willing to work at the clinical laboratory in Addis Abeba for a period of several weeks or months. The ideal candidate has:

  • A PhD, or is in the trajectory of a PhD in the field of medical microbiology and / or pathology.
  • At least one year of hands-on experience in a routine clinical laboratory
  • Good interpersonal skills to cooperate with local staff and willing to train local personal or supervise local students.
  • Willing to publish and / or present the research to the national and international scientific community.

Examples of research areas

  • Sero-epidemiological studies have shown show that Helicobacter pylori is an important gastric pathogen among the Ethiopian population. There are few data on resistance in Ethiopian strains, complicating the treatment of the associated illnesses. H. pylori tends to be highly localized among families or communities and resistance patterns can be different between strains. Characterizing the H. pylori strains in Addis Abeba should be useful for future management in order to effectively deal with this illness.
  • In several African countries beside Ethiopia, the cause of severe diarrhea in pediatric patients has mainly been attributed to Rotavirus, Shigella, Cryptosporidium and ST-ETEC. In Ethiopia there is limited data on the most important causes of diarrhea both in the pediatric patient group as in the general population. For example, patients with diarrhea are often treated for Entamoeba histolytica based on microscopic examination or for Salmonella without confirmative culture (personal communications). Reliable diagnostic data on infectious diarrheal diseases give insight on the main communicable diarrheal diseases in Addis Abeba. Using molecular diagnostics with subsequent culture and analysis of resistance patterns of the bacterial infections, valuable feedback can be offered to the health-care providers.
  • Ethiopia is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The lab-work is reflected by the increase of the middle class and changes in lifestyle; all the non-communicable diseases are rising rapidly. The exact impact of diseases such as diabetes, cancer and autoimmune disorders on the Ethiopian public health is largely unknown.
  • What are the most common causes of seasonal flu like symptoms in Ethiopians? Every flu like symptom is ascribed to “colds” and nobody has done any investigation which viruses are the causes, and if it is viral at all.
  • Clinical laboratories in Ethiopia do not have a good functioning quality management system. There is no well organized national proficiency testing (External QA) and therefore nobody knows how reliable or unreliable routine lab tests are in the country. Initiating inter-lab comparison on selected common lab tests will be very interesting for the labs as well as policy makers.
  • Ethiopia is one of the countries in Africa with a high HIV burden. Antiretroviral therapy was initiated in 2005. It has been more than ten years since the treatment program was launched, however, we have no data on drug resistance. Such investigation will be extremely valuable in decision making for treatment and prevention strategies.
  • Cervical cancer is the number one killer in women of reproductive age when infectious causes are disregarded. Because of the seemingly rising incidence of cancers in Ethiopia, the government has started to take non-communicable diseases seriously. There are no national screening programs for cervical cancer and there is limited data on HPV prevalence and types. Factual information is needed to initiate vaccination or screening programs.
  • Molecular characterization of breast carcinoma in Ethiopian patients is an interesting subject. There have been sporadic investigations, however, conclusive molecular characterization is unavailable (ER, PR, HER2, BRAC, etc). With treatment increasingly available, such knowledge will be crucial in medical decision-making.
  • Parasites of the blood and of the GI are common in Ethiopia. Still, we rely on traditional microscopic methods for diagnosis. There seems to be no movement in modernizing this tradition. In the era of molecular diagnosis, can we bring about change to this old method? Is it possible to adapt molecular methods so that we will be able to make molecular parasitological diagnosis affordable and of high quality?


Questions, suggestions and propositions can be directed to:

Dr. Mesfin Nigussie, Medical Director. T +251-11 4671818. E mesfin@icl.com.et

Dr. Robert-Jan ten Hove, Parasitologist. T +251-939881532. E robert@icladdis.com