Samuel Teklay, owner of a construction firm based in Addis Ababa, is one of the richest persons in Ethiopia. The road and highway construction company that he began to build more than two decades ago, Satcon Construction, is one of the largest private-sector employers in Ethiopia, with approximately 1,000 full-time employees. Yet Samuel is not universally admired and many question linger about the source of his wealth and his links to the regime.
Born in 1957 from parents were originally from Adigrat, Tigray, Samuel grew up in Cherkos area of Addis Ababa. He came from a family of relatively modest means. He attended the local public schools, completing elementary grades and high school there. He was a good student. At the age of 25, Samuel graduated from Addis Ababa University’s Engineering Faculty and was immediately employed by a state firm but was assigned in a remote area near Jijiga, the capital of Somali Regional State. Two years after his stay there, in 1991 the former regime collapsed and EPRDF took power. The company he worked disintegrated and Samuel came back to Addis Ababa. But mysteriously he came up with huge amount of money and established his company, Satcon.
The firm quickly expanded, working on several high-profile, large-scale infrastructure projects in Benishangul Gumuz, Oromia and Gambella and Amahra regional states. It has flourished financially, along the way bringing the owner into contact with powerful government officials who have the capacity to offer him lucrative contracts. Satcon currently is executing the Buhait-Dilyibza asphalt road, the 72Km road linking Debark to Dilyibza town, the capital of Beyeda Wereda in Amhara region, which from the start raised controversy about the bid.