By Madote

Eritrea introduced Resolution L38 at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva calling for a Country Specific Mandate to investigate Human Rights violations and abuses in Ethiopia.

The following is Resolution L38:

__________

Human Rights Council
Thirty-fifth session
6–23 June 2017

Agenda item 2


Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner

for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the
High Commissioner and the Secretary-General

Eritrea:* draft resolution

35/… Situation of human rights in Ethiopia

The Human Rights Council,

Guided by the Charter of the United Nations, as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments,

Reaffirming that all Member States have an obligation to promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of their citizens and to fulfil their obligations under international human rights conventions,

Recalling the press statement of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights of 2 September 2016 on the human rights situation in Ethiopia as well as its resolution ACHPR/Res. 356(LIX) of 4 November 2016 on the human rights situation in Ethiopia,

Expressing grave concern about the alarming situation in Ethiopia, the increase in persistent, widespread and systematic human rights violations and abuses, including killings and excessive use of force by the Ethiopian authorities against civilians and peaceful protesters as well as the arbitrary detention and torture of tens of thousands of Ethiopians,

Expressing grave concern also about the state of emergency that the Ethiopian authorities declared in October 2016 and renewed in April 2017, the provisions of which suspend all civic and political rights, prohibit public gatherings, further limit freedom of expression, criminalize accessing the Internet, impose dusk-to-dawn curfews and declare large areas of the country “red zones”, where military and security forces can take all necessary measures, including shooting to kill, against citizens whose presence in those zones during curfew hours is not “authorized” by the authorities,

Recognizing that the current political situation in Ethiopia, the political and economic marginalization of the country’s largest ethnic groups and the brutal repression of peaceful assembly and expression of grievances and demands is causing serious risk to security and stability in the country,

Recognizing also that the international community can play a critical role in preventing the further deterioration of the human rights situation in Ethiopia and the risk of further insecurity in the country and the region by highlighting the human rights violations by the Government and abuses and the risk of escalation of the civil strife,

Recalling the appeals made by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights and a number of thematic special procedure mandate holders for the Ethiopian authorities to provide unhindered access to the country for independent international observers to assess the alarming human rights situation,

Noting the recent visit of the High Commissioner to Ethiopia, in which he expressed concern at the lack of the rule of law and renewed his call to the Government of Ethiopia for access to affected areas,

Mindful that Ethiopia is a State party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and recalling the statement of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights calling upon the Government of Ethiopia to allow the African Commission and other international and regional human rights mechanisms unimpeded access to the concerned areas in order to carry out prompt and impartial investigations,

Deeply concerned by the dire human rights and security situation and the lack of accountability and impunity in regard to widespread and persistent violations of fundamental freedoms in Ethiopia,

1. Strongly condemns:

(a) The ongoing persistent, widespread and systematic violations and abuses of fundamental rights in Ethiopia by the Government, particularly the excessive use of force by the security forces against peaceful demonstrators and other civilians, arbitrary mass detention of protesters, students and political and business leaders, as well as acts of torture and ill-treatment of detainees and extrajudicial killings;

(b) The prohibition of the freedom of peaceful assembly and all expressions and symbols of political aspiration, as well as the right to ask for leave and resign from a job;

(c) The repeated abuse of the 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and Charities and Societies Proclamation and the utilization of the October 2016 state of emergency to suspend basic freedoms and rights and to employ force to crush all independent political expression;

(d) The forcible transfer of populations and massive land grab that violates the social and cultural rights of indigenous groups;

(e) The refusal by the Ethiopian authorities to cooperate with international and regional mechanisms to allow an independent, transparent and impartial investigation, which is warranted by the alarming human rights and security situation in the country;

(f) The extrajudicial killing and forced disappearances committed by the Government;

(g) The lack of cooperation with regional and international human rights mechanisms;

2. Calls upon the Ethiopian authorities, without delay:

(a) To lift the state of emergency decree, restore civic and political rights, respect the right to peaceful assembly and protests and respond to the demands of the Ethiopian people;

(b) To account for and release all arbitrarily detained political prisoners and peaceful protesters;

(c) To cooperate fully with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights, by, inter alia, allowing access to a mission by the Office of the High Commissioner, the African Commission and other regional and international human rights treaty bodies;

(d) To end the use of arbitrary detention of Ethiopian citizens and to end the use of torture and inhumane and degrading treatment and punishment;

(e) To immediately repeal the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and the Charities and Societies Proclamation used by the Government of Ethiopia to restrict freedoms, silencing dissent, and release immediately those detained under these laws;

3. Requests the Office of the High Commissioner to urgently organize and dispatch a mission of independent experts to Ethiopia, inter alia:

(a) To undertake an investigation into the violations of fundamental freedoms and widespread abuses committed against peaceful protestors and the civilian population in the Amhara and Oromia regions;

(b) To make recommendations on ways to end impunity and ensure accountability for abuses and crimes, including by identifying perpetrators and compensation for victims;

(c) To submit a written report to, and engage in dialogue with, the Human Rights Council at its thirty-eighth session and present an oral update to the Council at its thirty-seventh session and the General Assembly at its seventy-third session;

4. Calls upon the Government of Ethiopia to cooperate fully with the mission of independent experts, to permit access to visit the country and to provide the information necessary for the fulfilment of the mandate of the mission;

5. Requests the Secretary-General to provide the mission of independent experts with all information and resources necessary to fulfil its mandate;

6. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

GE.17-10041(E)

*1710041*


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By EgyptIndependent

An unverified voice recording attributed to Egypt’s Former President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak has generated great controversy among Egyptian social media users.

The recording, which surfaced on a Facebook page titled ‘Ana Asef Ya Rais’ [‘I’m sorry Mr. President’], featured statements from Mubarak on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam ‘GERD’.

Mubarak relinquished power in 2011 following the 25 January Revolution and has been subjected to judicial trials since.

In the unverified voice clip, Mubarak said that Ethiopia did not dare to establish GERD during his era, adding that he had the ability to destroy it with Russian-made Tupolev

Mubarak also asserted in the recording that Egypt is currently considered a weak country, unlike in the past when the world saw it as powerful one.

Egypt Independent made several attempts to reach administrators of the Facebook page that broadcast the voice recording of Mubarak.


By Aklog Birara (Dr)

Barely three years after more than 160,000 Ethiopian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia were expelled from the Kingdom, an estimated 400,000-750,000 Ethiopian migrant workers face a dire situation again. No one really knows the exact number involved; but it is in the hundreds of thousands. The eminent nature of these mass deportations reveal two intractable and interrelated fundamental human rights issues in international and domestic policy.

First and foremost is the inability of the Ethiopian government to meet the hopes and aspirations of its bulging youth. Those under the age of 35 constitute 70 percent of Ethiopia’s 104 million people. Experts estimate that Ethiopia needs to create more than 2.5 million jobs each year. Compounding this lack of opportunity is a crushing and debilitating system of government that crushes all forms of dissent, rejects the right to demand services and to hold government officials accountable for crimes against extrajudicial killings, forcible disappearances, evictions, displacements, jailing and torture.

Despite its constant rhetoric that it has embarked upon a period of unprecedented “renaissance” for its large population, Ethiopia’s police state is incapable of creating work opportunities or providing basic services. Instead, the regime resorts to all forms of cruel and inhumane treatments including encouraging hundreds of thousands to leave Ethiopia. The exodus of people is unprecedented in Ethiopian history. The regime continues to believe that this exodus generates foreign exchange and is therefore worth the sacrifice of tens of thousands of lives and the dignity of Ethiopians.

Hence, the allure of a better life abroad and the push from cruel and inhumane treatment constitute the key divers of indescribable flight and brain drain from Ethiopia. Ordinary Ethiopians prefer to take risks and leave their homeland in droves than to suffer from humiliation, recurrent assaults and slow deaths at home. The government of Ethiopia is incapable of removing the root causes that led millions of peaceful citizens in Oromia, Amhara, Konso and other locations to revolt against this crushing system barely one year ago. More than 1,000 innocent people were murdered; and no one has been held accountable for these atrocities. Unwilling to respond to the popular revolt, the regime declared a State of Emergency for six months that it has now extended by 4 more months. For practical purposes, political, social and spiritual space is totally closed. A closed society cannot create jobs or establish an environment in which citizens would have a fighting chance to make a living in their homeland.

If the regime has failed to match the East Asian Miracle of growth and development over the past 27 years, do not expect that it can match them in the next 30 or 50 years. The fundamentals are broken and cannot be fixed by the same crowd that enriched themselves over a quarter century!! The tragedy in exclusionary and repressive governance shrouded under the developmental state is that, the regime’s leaders refuse to compare their contributions with the best of the best in the East and South Asia, Latin America, North and Sub-Saharan Africa. Instead, they keep telling the Ethiopian people that the regime is doing better than the Imperial regime and the Dergue, both of which are long gone and history. Why not dare to compare Ethiopia’s growth with current success stories such as Botswana, Mauritius, Seychelles, Namibia and increasingly Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda etc.? Ethiopia’s per capita income is a third of Sub-Saharan Africa.

The regime has failed miserably in meeting the demands and needs of Ethiopian youth. They leaves in droves because the system is both hostile and disempowering. Any regime incapable of responding to its youthful population is at the same time incapable of serving the country and all of its citizens. Immigrants suffer from this vicious and cruel system.

Second, even in better times, Saudi Arabia is not known for humane treatment of migrant workers. Migrant workers do not have human rights; they are treated as disposable modern “slaves.” Therefore, the Saudi Arabia’s “Saudization” or indigenization program comes at the worst time for Ethiopian migrant workers. Millions of Ethiopians suffer from one of the worst cases of drought famine. A 2017 assessment of fragile states by the Fund for Peace identifies Ethiopia among the 15 most fragile countries in the world. The report underscores the fact that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) that dominates the government exercises total monopoly over political, economic, security and other policy and decision-making institutions. “The TPLF control is self-evident. The military establishment is Tigrean.” Group grievances are common and are left un-addressed. Ethiopia’s middle class is in shambles. Wealth is concentrated in a few hands, mostly Tigreans. The TPLF controls almost all natural resources.

In a similar vein the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace opined that “The EPRDF position of power remains fundamentally fragile, owning primarily to the internal contradictions of the EPRDF regime.” Consequently, the regime is incapable and unable to meet the basic needs of citizens.

Against these dire conditions, migrant workers face enormous problems in Ethiopia. History is likely to repeat itself. Three years ago, those who returned to Ethiopia from Saudi Arabia found themselves in a worst condition and thus returned to Saudi Arabia and other countries in droves. At the time, Human Rights Watch and other human rights groups reported degrading conditions, indescribable human rights abuses by police and gangs in Saudi detention camps. The current deportation order might be far worse than the last. Because the numbers are far greater and the decision is not reversible or flexible. On 19 March, 2017, the Ministry of the Interior of Saudi Arabia issued a national campaign under the title of ‘A Nation Without Violations’ and gave “illegal migrants” 90 days from March 29, 2017 to leave the country without paying penalties. According to the edict, “illegal migrants” who fail to leave within the time frame will be evicted forcibly or face other punishments.

What is the responsibility of the government of Ethiopia?

First and foremost is for the Ethiopian government to express outrage against this cruel and unusual punishment and to defend the human rights of Ethiopian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia. It is to urge the government of Saudi Arabia to treat Ethiopians with respect and dignity and to negotiate a reasonable, honorable and safe exit for all Ethiopians regardless of age, gender, religion, ethnicity, health condition, income level and marital status. On this score, Ethiopian officials are consistently numb and show zero interest for Ethiopian lives either at home or abroad.

The decision by Saudi authorities to “revive the economies of companies and establishments and protect small businesses and projects from illegal expats, while also reducing unemployment rates and creating a safe economic and social environment” might seem reasonable on the surface. After all, all nations serve their national interests first. Currently, Saudi society depends on an estimated 9-12 million foreigners to support the economy, especially services. The Middle East Monitor estimates that a third of Saudi’s population is composed of foreigners from a broad spectrum of countries including Ethiopia. These foreigners claim that they are “unpaid, underpaid and ill-treated” by their employers. Worse off among these are migrant workers and illegal immigrants. Those who protest for decent wages and decent treatment are often “flogged and jailed.” They are treated worse than “dogs.”

The world community and callous governments such as Ethiopia’s show minimal interest. Ethiopian officials are much keener to benefit from remittances migrant workers send to Ethiopia more than they show an ounce of empathy for their ill treatment. The Ethiopian Embassy is literally closed for business when it comes to migrant workers.

It is true that in 2013, international pressure and especially vigorous and worldwide campaign spearheaded by Ethiopian Diaspora groups, most notably by the Global Alliance for the Rights of Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia and now the Global Alliance for the Rights of Ethiopians (GARE) did a terrific job persuading both the Saudis and Ethiopian authorities to repatriate more than 160,000 Ethiopians.

Given the magnitude of the problem and the intractable root causes that push Ethiopians out of their homeland, Diaspora fund mobilization and support to repatriate more than 400,000 Ethiopians is virtually untenable.

The cost of repatriation must therefore be borne primarily by the government of Ethiopia. It is unreasonable to expect poor migrants who borrowed and used all family savings to migrate to Saudi Arabia to pay for their transportation to the country they left in the first place. The government ought to also entertain the notion of “regularization or legalization” of migrant workers whose skill sets are in demand within Saudi Arabia. It is inevitable that given lack of opportunities in Ethiopia, many thousands will renter Saudi Arabia, making the administrative costs of repeated reentry and expulsion prohibitive for the Saudis while tarnishing their public image perpetually and irreparably.

Further, the government of Ethiopia owes it to Ethiopian families of migrants to demand that the government of Saudi Arabia stop its barbaric treatment and abusive treatment of Ethiopian migrant workers. In 2013 Human Rights Watch and the Regional Mixed Migration Screening (RMMS) reported that returnees told them that “they were detained for weeks by Saudi authorities in appalling conditions with severe overcrowding, lack of access to air and daylight, sweltering heat and limited medical assistance.

Further Ethiopians suffered from “theft of migrants’ belongings, beatings, sexual abuses, rapes, maiming, flogging and killings.” Sadly, the government of Ethiopia never voiced concern let alone outrage. Given this negligence by Ethiopian officials, the international media did not report the atrocities.

Ethiopians should therefore conclude from this that similar atrocities will persist. If they cannot count on the government to deal with the root causes for their flight, it is unlikely that it will take a different position this time around. Yet, the situation in 2017 is even more ominous and much more urgent. In 2013/2014 165,000 Ethiopians were deported over the course of only 4 months. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDSA) estimates that at least 260,000 Ethiopian migrant workers returned to Saudi Arabia in 2016 alone.” UNDSA maintains a data base on the number of legal or regular Ethiopian migrants to Saudi Arabia, which in 2016 numbered 124,000. It does not have an accurate count of irregular or illegal migrants estimated at more than 4 times this number. Sadly, Ethiopians continue to migrate through Yemen and other locations, often risking their lives and human rights. Expulsions alone have done little to nothing to contain the tide.

Reports indicate that the government of Ethiopia has granted 50,000-80,000 entry visas to Ethiopians. At least twenty thousand have returned to Ethiopia. Depending on which source you believe, hundreds of thousands are in limbo and desperate. Reports indicate that Saudi authorities have begun to arrest thousands. These prisoners are housed in concentration camps where they face the prospect of communicable diseases, hunger and ill-treatment.

This humanitarian crisis requires urgent and concerted response from the global community in general and human rights groups such as UNHCR, Red Crescent, the International Red Cross, the International Office for Migration (IOM) and other non-governmental organizations. IOM is best prepared and equipped to facilitate the deportation process while providing sustenance to those in detention centers as it did in Yemen in 2013. It is IOM that quotes the much higher figure of 750,000 Ethiopian migrants in limbo and facing deportation immediately.

The sheer number of these migrants makes it virtually impossible for the government of Ethiopia to repatriate all of them at the same time. Far worse, Ethiopia does not have the economic and infrastructural capacity to accommodate returnees and to restore their lives. This is the reason why the government requested IOM to raise global awareness, mobilize funds, spearhead the repatriation effort, provide post-arrival assistance and assist in the reintegration process.

However, IOM cannot negotiate the terms of treatment of Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia or defend and safeguard that their fundamental human rights and human dignity. It cannot negotiate a longer grace period and time frame. Only Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Prime Minister, Hailemariam Dessalegn can do these.

At minimum, the Prime Minister should make an official visit to Saudi Arabia and make a personal plea to the highest officials of the Kingdom. The Prime Minister should also call on his own government to establish a high level Commission of Experts to look into the root causes of the problem; and come up with long term solutions for this recurring tragedy. Ethiopia should change its national shame image by offering solutions to social ills rather than punish dissent and crush human rights.

In the meantime, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister should commit his government to repatriate all those willing to leave Saudi Arabia free of charge. The safe return of Ethiopians cannot be left to the government of Saudi Arabia that wants them out. Nor can it be left to a third non-governmental organization whose primary role is facilitation.

The government of Ethiopia can no longer mask the problem. It is a national disgrace. It should be honest and bold enough to tell the Saudis and the global community that it cannot accommodate this enormous demand without global funding, including funding from the World Bank.

The large Ethiopian Diaspora has a vital role to play.

It should carry out a concerted global effort by seeking international media coverage by renowned entities such as CNN, BBC and Al-Jazeera.

It should initiate a letter campaign to draw attention to human rights groups.

Last but not least, the Diaspora should muster the courage to alert the global community that the deteriorating human rights situation in Ethiopia is the root cause of the problem; and that the global community should stop shoring up one of the most corrupt, inept and repressive regimes in the world.
In this connection, Human Rights Watch’s report “Detained, Beaten, Deported: Saudi Abuses against Migrants during Mass Expulsions” depicts the structural problems deportees face. “Many arrived back in their countries destitute, unable to buy food or pay for transportation to their home areas, in some cases because Saudi officials arbitrarily confiscated their personal property. Many of the hundreds of thousands of migrants Saudi Arabia has deported in the last year and a half have been sent back to places where their safety is threatened.”

Evidence shows that Ethiopians won’t be safe at home when they return. By all measurements, the condition in Ethiopia is more suffocating, hostile and unwelcoming than it was three years ago.

What should we urge the government of Saudi Arabia to do?

Consider relaxing the departure date
Stop beating, flogging, torturing and abusing Ethiopian migrants; and bring those responsible for injustice including rapes to justice; and treat migrants with due process of international law. In 2013 in a neighborhood of southern Riyadh, where the majority of residents are Ethiopians, at least three Ethiopian workers were killed and numerous maimed and beaten.”

Improve conditions of detention centers for migrants, provide proper shelters, safe drinking water, adequate sanitation and food; and

Eritrean military parade in Asmara


By Tom Gardner | Foerign Policy 

Two recent and seemingly incongruous events may one day be seen as symbolic turning points for Eritrea, an authoritarian, one-party state often referred to as Africa’s hermit kingdom. The first was a bloody clash on Eritrea’s border with Ethiopia in June 2016, which left hundreds of people dead and brought back memories of the devastating 1998-2000 war between the two archenemies. The second was an academic conference in the Eritrean capital of Asmara in July, the first of its kind in 15 years. Visiting academics were shocked by the relative freedom for debate — on everything from women’s rights to foreign policy — in the notoriously repressive state.

“It was as much a political event as an academic event,” said Harry Verhoeven, an assistant professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar who attended the conference. “It was remarkable — by regional standards and certainly by Eritrean standards.”

These apparently contradictory episodes were in fact both subplots of the same story: Eritrea’s gradual emergence from more than a decade of international isolation and the uncertain attempts to come to terms with that shift by its rival neighbor, Ethiopia. The conference indicated that the Eritrean government is coming tentatively in from the cold; the border war showed that Ethiopia is worried that a rehabilitated Eritrea could threaten its regional dominance. Together, the two events demonstrated that the 17-year-old status quo of “no peace, no war” is coming undone.

In April, Ethiopia announced that it is working on a new policy toward its Red Sea neighbor. The details are still emerging, but one thing is clear: The government recognizes that its strategy of containment, imposed on Eritrea after the end of the border war in 2000 and ratcheted up with a U.N. arms embargo in 2009, has failed. For the first time in years, there is serious talk of a change of course in Addis Ababa.

The U.N. sanctions regime is dependent on support from the international community, which is gradually eroding. The sanctions were always controversial for singling out Eritrea as a uniquely bad actor in a region of bad actors. Now there is growing consensus at the United Nations that the main justification for the sanctions no longer applies: There is no evidence that Eritrea is still supporting al-Shabab militants in Somalia, and though it continues to support armed opposition groups in the region — notably in Ethiopia — its neighbors do as well.

Ethiopia may be able to stave off a softening — or lifting — of the sanctions until the end of 2018, when its term as a nonpermanent member of the U.N. Security Council is slated to end. Tensions between Eritrea and Djibouti, which have spiked in the past week following Qatar’s decision to remove its peacekeepers from the troubled border between the two countries, may well strengthen Ethiopia’s case in the short term. But in the long run it will struggle to persuade other members to continue the status quo without the backing of the United States, which now that President Barack Obama — and in particular his national security advisor, Susan Rice, who was seen as implacably hostile to the Eritrean regime — has departed may be less inclined to keep Asmara in the penalty box.

“They didn’t have an inch of space when she was there,” Bronwyn Bruton, the deputy director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C., said of Rice. Now that Donald Trump is in office, “all the African strongmen are rejoicing,” she added.

Wider winds are blowing in Eritrea’s favor, too. The war in Yemen, which is less than 70 miles away across the Red Sea, has sparked a rush on Eritrean coastal real estate by Gulf states looking to base their troops there. For example, the United Arab Emirates has been leasing the port of Assab since 2015 and is reportedly building a military base there. Meanwhile, some 400 Eritrean troops are reportedly fighting as part of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, in return for which Asmara has received fuel and finance.

“The Gulf countries have repositioned Eritrea in the geopolitical context of the Horn in quite a remarkable way,” said Kjetil Tronvoll, a senior partner at the International Law and Policy Institute in Norway.

Meanwhile, the migration crisis has spurred renewed engagement by the European Union, which is desperate to stem the flow of refugees and migrants across the Mediterranean. Eritrea was Africa’s largest single source of refugees to Europe from 2014 to 2016, a distinction that won President Isaias Afwerki, who has been in power since 1993, an additional source of income. In 2015, the EU approved a 200 million euro aid package for Eritrea, though it has yet to disburse all the funds. This came on top of promises of training for the judiciary and security services designed to combat trafficking.

Individual European countries and humanitarian agencies are also stepping up engagement. Germany has resumed technical assistance programs while Britain’s Department for International Development is planning to open an office in Asmara. U.S. State Department officials, who long avoided the country, have started visiting again. “The wall that the Ethiopians had carefully erected has frankly crumbled,” said Martin Plaut, the author of Understanding Eritrea. “Everybody seems to be queuing up to love them.”

Most unnervingly from the Ethiopian perspective is Eritrea’s strengthening relationship with Egypt, Ethiopia’s historic rival and now the closest thing Eritrea has to a regional ally. Addis Ababa accuses Cairo of working with Eritrea to support armed groups that have attempted to sabotage the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the continent’s largest hydroelectric project, which Egypt regards as an existential threat because of its dependence on the Nile River’s downstream waters.

High-level exchanges between Asmara and Cairo have intensified in recent months. Afwerki traveled to Egypt in November to meet President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and Eritrea’s foreign minister held talks with his Egyptian counterpart in May. Multiple Egyptian delegations have descended on Asmara, fueling rumors of a potential Egyptian air base in Eritrea. Such a provocation is highly unlikely, analysts say, but not impossible: Egypt has not ruled out the possibility of airstrikes against the dam.

Meanwhile, Eritrea has made its own efforts to rid itself of pariah status. It has begun courting foreign investors, especially in the mining sector. Three new mines are expected to be operational by 2018, joining the majority-Canadian-owned Bisha gold, copper, and zinc mine, which opened in 2011 and generated nearly $2 billion in revenues in its first four years of operation. (The mine has been dogged by allegations of forced labor and dangerous working conditions.) The government also created a free trade zone in the port of Massawa in an effort to attract more investors.

This comes on top of small but symbolically significant measures by the government to improve its terrible reputation on human rights. According to the Atlantic Council, some 50 foreign journalists were permitted to enter and report on the country between May 2015 and May 2016, and the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was recently permitted to tour a prison.

Much of this is worrying to Ethiopia, which dislikes the prospect of Eritrea projecting its influence over the Red Sea littoral — a deep-seated anxiety tied to its own landlocked status. Addis Ababa also worries that Afwerki will use his growing financial resources to step up support for armed opposition in Ethiopia at a time when the country is already under a state of emergency following months of unrest. Above all, Ethiopia fears encirclement by hostile regimes.

But so far it has struggled to craft a coherent response to Eritrea’s rapidly changing circumstances. “Ethiopia was completely blindsided by what happened in Yemen,” said Cedric Barnes, the director of research and communications at the Rift Valley Institute. “They seem to have lost their way diplomatically.”

Unlike Eritrea, Ethiopia has only distant relations with the Gulf states, and its efforts to dissuade the UAE and Saudi Arabia from engaging with Asmara have apparently been unsuccessful. As a result, it has resorted to displays of military strength, including bombing the Bisha mine in 2015. In private, government officials in Asmara claim that scores of similar provocations have occurred in recent years.

Analysts are unsure what a new Ethiopian policy toward Eritrea might entail. Some suggest it will amount to little more than a rearticulation of its existing approach, setting firm red lines and spelling out exactly what sort of military action their breach might warrant. Others wonder if the government is considering secret bilateral talks, perhaps including the offer of withdrawal from the border town of Badme, which Ethiopian troops have occupied illegally for the past 15 years. But war — to bring about regime change in Asmara — is not out of the question either, though military overstretch and fear of full-blown state collapse north of the border make this unlikely.

The problem is that domestic politics in Ethiopia makes bold thinking difficult. The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front is deeply divided, and the prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, lacks the authority to make a bold move toward resetting relations with Eritrea. Whatever happens, hawks in the military and intelligence agencies will need to be brought onside, which will mean avoiding anything that looks like a humiliating climb down from the country’s aggressive stance.

Eritrea may have earned the title of Africa’s North Korea, but it has no patron like China that can force it to the table. Afwerki still benefits from the status quo, which justifies keeping the country on a permanent war footing. Reports that Eritrean troops have occupied disputed territory following the withdrawal of Qatari peacekeepers from the Djibouti border last week serve as reminder that Eritrea can still play the part of regional spoiler. And though it’s now less isolated, Asmara remains much weaker than Addis Ababa. In the end, movement must come from the Ethiopian side. “It’s a high-risk, high-reward situation,” Verhoeven said. “But I’m cautiously optimistic.”




By Emele Onu and Nizar Manek

Dangote Cement Plc, controlled by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, said it may shut its operations in Ethiopia if authorities in the central state of Oromia don’t reverse an order to cement makers to hand over control of some parts of their businesses to local young people.

Oromia state’s East Shewa Zone administration wants the Nigerian company to outsource its pumice, sand and clay mines to youth groups or be responsible for “any problems” that may arise, according to a letter from the authority to Dangote that was seen by Bloomberg and verified with a representative of East Shewa’s administration. The regional government sees the transfer of jobs in pumice production as a way to ease youth unemployment and quell unrest, according to the document.

Any mismanagement of mining infrastructure including buildings and excavators could “lead to total breakdown of our business,” Dangote Executive Director Edwin Devakumar said in an interview at the company’s headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub, last week. The cement maker will write to the federal government this week to ask it to intervene and will consider shutting the plant in Mugher, about 90 kilometers (56 miles) north of Addis Ababa, as a “last option” if this fails, he said. The company listed Ethiopia as one of its three “key” markets, along with Nigeria and South Africa, in a presentation in May.

There’s “no intention to displace any investment,” so long as Dangote is “working by the laws and regulations in our region and country,” Tekele Uma, head of Oromia’s transport authority, said by phone. “If anyone’s complaining about Oromia regional state, we’re ready to talk with them. Any investment can come. Any investment can go.”

Motuma Mekassa, Ethiopia’s minister of mining, petroleum and natural gas, said by phone he wasn’t aware of an attempt by Dangote to reach his office. An official at the federal ministry said Dangote should make an approach through “appropriate channels,” as opposed to through the media, asking for his name to be withheld, citing the sensitivity of the issue.

The Ethiopian government is searching for ways to reduce youth unemployment after violent protests by Oromo communities over alleged land dispossession, political marginalization and repression led the government to declare a state of emergency last year. Dangote Cement was among several businesses attacked during the unrest. The protests triggered a 20 percent slump in foreign investment to $1.2 billion in the six months through December compared with the same period a year earlier, according to the government.

Foreign Investment in Ethiopia Slumps After Business Attacks

The order to outsource mining is “a violation of our rights because the government has given us a mining license,’’ said Devakumar, who was Dangote Cement’s chief executive officer until 2015. “If I don’t have limestone and additives my cement plant is useless.”

Although the disputes haven’t forced Nigeria’s biggest listed company to halt production, it will miss targets if the impasse isn’t broken, the executive director said. Disruption in pumice flows will reduce output and trigger job cuts, Devakumar said. Dangote employs about 1,500 workers directly in the country, while an estimated 15,000 people earn a living indirectly through the firm’s cement and mining facilities, he said.

The disagreement is also hampering Dangote’s Ethiopian expansion plans. The company has stopped an advance payment on a contract to double production capacity of the 2.5 million metric-ton per year plant after signing an agreement, Devakumar said.

The company has spent more than $700 million in the country and is “discouraged from investing more,” he said.

Ethiopia’s government said in February it’s only likely to attract $3.2 billion of foreign direct investment this year, compared with a target of $3.5 billion.

Dangote Cement, which has a market value of $11.1 billion, has expanded rapidly across Africa since 2014 and now operates in 9 countries aside from Nigeria. The shares were little changed in Lagos on Thursday.



By Shiferaw Abebe

As incredible as it may seem, Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) – the entity that has ruled Ethiopia for 26 years to date – has the international community in its bag with its claim of achieving a year-to-year double-digit economic growth and phenomenal poverty reduction for longer than a decade now. This dubious claim is one of the two atonements with which TPLF appeases the powers that be for the horrific human right sins it commits year round.

The powers that be – the U.S. and Europe in particular – have time and again accepted this claim as a worthy offering and looked the other way as TPLF kills, jails, tortures and dehumanizes its political opponents, journalists, human right activists, and peaceful protesters. If, from time to time, these major funders of the regime condemn its atrocities, they do it in the mildest form possible. Worse still, they undermine any effect their condemnation may have by, with the same breath, lauding the regime for its economic achievements and contribution to the war on terrorism, the other ploy with which the regime fools the world.

Very few Ethiopians fall for the regime’s anti-terrorism posturing, but sadly a significant number of them appear to be willing to give the regime the benefit of the doubt on its economic claims. A slice of them goes to the extent of consciously overlooking or downplaying the regime’s human right violations altogether.

No amount of economic growth can justify the death, arrest or torture of a single individual. Those who think Ethiopians should endure abject injustice, lack of freedom, routine indignity and dehumanization in exchange for economic wellbeing are either associated with the regime, are in some way profiting under the current system, or lack empathy to those who suffered and are suffering the brunt of the regime’s unjust imprisonment, torture, and killings.

That aside, the economic achievement the regime claims to have materialized because of its policies and actions has to be challenged in its own right because the claim, far from being accurate, is a work of deliberate exaggerations and deceptions. More importantly, this alleged growth, even if true, comes at a much higher opportunity cost as will be discussed later.

To begin with, no one can deny that there has been some economic growth in Ethiopia particularly in the last decade. Anyone visiting the country will immediately notice the buzzing construction activity in Addis and other major cities. The life style of some has also changed, for example with more Ethiopians owning a family car, a house or condominium. How much one would be impressed with these and other changes depends on their reference point. For many Ethiopians, their reference point is the Ethiopia they knew decades ago, which naturally magnifies the change they see now. If, however, one uses the rest of the world as the reference point, one would most likely have a much lower excitement if not disappointment about the economic progress in Ethiopia.

Comparative analysis – comparing Ethiopia’s economic performance with others – is important because it will tell us what Ethiopians have potentially missed for what they have gotten under the TPLF regime. But let’s first start with the basic claim the TPLF regime makes in its economic argument, namely Ethiopia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown annually by more than ten per cent for more than ten years. As the Economist, citing prominent international economic experts pointed out, this claim is partly a hoax; Ethiopia’s GDP growth at best is half what the regime claims it to be. One need not to believe the statistics, but make note of the several real life indicators, including the very high unemployment rate the regime itself has come to admit in recent times. Given Ethiopia’s population growth rate at around 2.5 percent, had the economy grown by double-digits for over a decade, there would be a much lower level of unemployment in the country today given also the fact that the few key areas of current economic activity such as agriculture, services and public infrastructure are labor intensive.

In Asia and elsewhere, a double-digit economic growth has uniformly generated expanding and well-rewarding jobs for the younger and better-educated generation in particular. Those opportunities almost universally created a great and infectious sense of optimism and confidence about the future of their country. What has happened in Ethiopia since TPLF took power – more so in the last ten years – is quite the opposite. Seeing little opportunity in the hyped domestic economy, tens of thousands of youth are forced to leave their country each year for a precarious life in the Middle East and neighboring Africa countries. The dissatisfaction and discontentment of those who stayed behind meanwhile boiled to the surface, escalating into a widespread popular uprising in the last one-year and a half and panicking the regime into declaring a Martial Law, which is still in place eight months later.

Secondly, the much touted double-digit growth, even if it were true, amounts to much less when measured in per capita terms. For a poor country like Ethiopia, a GDP growth that is not measured in per capita terms is quite deceptive because it does not tell how much it amounts to when divided into one hundred million parts. That is why a recent media coverage about Ethiopia overtaking Kenya to become the largest economy in East Africa is pretty much meaningless. For all that matters, Kenya’s GDP, which when divided among its population is double that of Ethiopia, affords Kenyans a much better living standard financially, with better access to education, healthcare, clean water and reliable electricity.

Likewise, the nominal GDP the TPLF regime reports, even if true, is much less in terms of real goods and services because Ethiopia’s inflation for most part of the last decade and longer has been in double-digits. So much so that the livelihood of salaried people, for example, has not changed much, if at all, despite the pay raises they might have received over the years. The vast majority of the Ethiopian poor and fixed income earners such as retirees actually fare worse today than ten years ago because their purchasing power has declined with the rise in the prices of goods and services. Families that receive remittances from relatives abroad may have weathered the brunt of the inflation, but their relative wellbeing has nothing to do with the alleged domestic economic growth.

Thirdly, one also has to remember that, whatever growth there is, it is mainly financed by other people’s money. The country’s main production sectors – agriculture, manufacturing, and mining are nowhere near generating the level of real economic value and tax base to finance the infrastructure development that is behind much of the GDP growth. The public infrastructure projects – dams, roads, health and education facilities, waste management, you name it – are therefore largely funded by donations and borrowed money. As of March 2016, the TPLF regime had borrowed $21.7 billion (or over 30 percent of the country’s GDP) from external lenders. Including domestic borrowing, this figure rises to close to $40 billion (or over 54 percent of GDP). Ethiopia is one of 36 poor countries whose international debts reached unmanageable and unsustainable levels that the World Bank, IMF, and other lenders had to put together a debt reduction program under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative.

If the swelling debt is worrisome, corruption is a bigger problem in Ethiopia today. The absence of transparency, independent audit, and accountability means a good portion of the borrowed and donated money is siphoned off directly or indirectly by the endemic corruption and thievery at the top level of the TPLF regime. According to the UN’s Global Financial Integrity, an average of $2-$3 billion is leaked out of the country each year through various forms of illicit financial flows. The total amount illicitly leaked out of the national economy estimated to be $30 billion is equal to the total donations the regime received from the United States since it came to power.

Corruption is a common phenomenon anywhere there is a lack of democracy and rule of law, but TPLF has elevated it into a politically sanctioned crime. Ccorruption and rent-seeking activities are systematically instituted to result in an inequitable distribution of income and wealth in a manner that reinforces TPLF’s political hegemony. There is no clearer indicator of this than the fact that Ethiopia is perhaps the only country where a ruling party owns a business empire as big as the so-called Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT). Started with stolen and robbed resources from TPLF’s rebel days and later boosted by hundreds of millions of uncollectable loans from Ethiopia’s commercial and development banks, this conglomerate currently owns two dozen companies collectively worth over $3 billion. If this is not enough, TPLF also runs the Tigray Development Association (TDA) and Relief Society of Tigray (REST) each of which owns several thriving business companies.

Fourthly, whatever growth has been achieved, it has not moved the needle, so to speak. Ethiopia is still one of the poorest countries in the world, 172nd in GDP per capita, only ahead of 13 largely war ravaged African countries. It fares worse on the multidimensional poverty index that measures the percentage of people impacted by an array of poverty factors. It is at the bottom of a list of 102 developing countries only besting Niger, South Sudan and Chad. In 2014, a third of Ethiopians lived under the global poverty line, i.e., with under $1.25 a day.

To this day, Ethiopia relies on global donations to feed millions of starved people (about 8 million this year; 10 million the previous year). At the best of times, a third of Ethiopians are malnourished. TPLF brags about improving the logistics of begging and distributing international food aid, forgetting most every other nation on the globe is either food self-sufficient or has the economic and financial capacity to procure food from anywhere in the world to meet domestic needs and demands without much fanfare.

While such is the grim reality, the TPLF regime sells the promise of moving the country into the middle-income group by 2025, something that amounts to not much even if it were genuine. Currently there are only 31 countries in the entire world, which the World Bank categorizes as low income. The rest of 181 countries are either middle (102) or high-income (79) countries.

Moving out of the low-income category is not therefore something to brag about not only because the vast majority of the countries in the world don’t belong there anyway, but also many of the lower-middle-income countries are themselves poor. The middle-income category is so wide (ranging from $1026 to $12, 475 GNI per capita) that one has to move into the upper middle-income category to be out of abject poverty in a decisive way. Ethiopia will have to almost double its current GNI per capita ($590) to barely reach the threshold of the lower-middle income group – a tall feat for a corrupt and inept regime like TPLF to deliver – let alone reach middle of the way in that income bracket.

Finally, as a minority repressive regime, TPLF will never guarantee political stability, which is a necessary condition for economic security that is in turn a prerequisite for a sustained growth. There more economic insecurity today than at any time in the past. A small segment of the population, who are ethnically and politically connected to the regime, are doing fantastically well. However, since the regime cannot guarantee the security of their economic fortunes, they fear they can lose it all as fast as they gained it. This is a reasonable fear because any wealth or asset built through political favoritism can be an easy target for destruction during a popular uprising or nationalization when a new political system is established. This fear will exacerbate the capital flight that has already begun and is bound to slow down investment and growth in the country.

The opportunity cost of TPLF’s alleged growth

To argue that TPLF’s economic growth is exaggerated, inequitable, debt-ridden, etc., is to tell only half the economic story. The other half that needs more attention is the opportunity cost of this alleged growth. In economics, the opportunity cost of a given choice or action is defined as the value or the benefit that could be had if the resources committed to that choice or action were used to accomplish the best alternative choice or action there is. In other words, opportunity cost is the best alternative we gave up in order to pursue a given choice or action.

Given the rampant corruption, political favoritism, and economic incompetence and mismanagement under the TPLF regime, it will not be hard to find examples of major public projects where the opportunity costs were higher than the benefits from those projects. A good example could be the Abay hydro dam which TPLF hopes to use as a source of foreign exchange by selling the electricity generated to neighboring countries. In the absence of accountability and the entrenched corruption and thievery within this regime, there is a justifiable fear that the full amount of the proceeds from the export of electricity will not accrue to the public coffer.

Even if the country were to capture the full benefit of the Abay dam, a better alternative would be to invest the resources now committed to the Abay Dam for generating a stable and affordable electricity supply for the tens of millions of Ethiopian households who currently live in the dark and the countless small and medium size manufacturing businesses whose production capacity is hamstrung by the endemic power shortage. Access to electricity, like access to education, clean water, and healthcare would be a great equalizer across economic, social and political classes. The combined social, environmental, and economic benefit of this alternative would far outweigh the uncertain benefit of the Abay Dam.

At a macro (national) level, the aggregate opportunity cost of TPLF’s economic performance can be assessed indirectly and roughly by comparing Ethiopia’s key economic indicators with those of comparable countries in Africa and elsewhere in the world. Twenty-six years later, TPLF is often heard measuring itself against the Derg, which is an idiotic comparison, not only because the times and the circumstances are far apart, but also because the Derg, far from being the best alternative, is one of the worst regimes in Ethiopia’s history. Even then, if one had to compare the two regimes, TPLF would likely not be a clear winner; in fact, one could argue the Derg would have done better had it have the massive international financial support and relative political stability TPLF has enjoyed. Anyhow, this is not a point to dwell on here.

Instead, in what follows TPLF’s performance is compared with that of other contemporary regimes. First, Ethiopia’s GDP per capita is contrasted with five other comparable (low and lower-middle income) African countries (Ghana, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya) using World Bank data. None of these countries make frequent economic headlines as Ethiopia does, yet, except for Uganda – incidentally a country that is ruled by longstanding tyrannical regime akin to TPLF – the other four countries outperform Ethiopia, not just in absolute terms but in their year-to-year GDP per capita growth too. This is evident from the widening gaps between Ethiopia’s GDP per capita and those of the other four countries as one moves from 1993 – when TPLF took total state control in Ethiopia – to 2015.

GDP per capita, PPP (Constant 2011 International $)


TPLF’s mediocre economic performance is more revealing when one compares Ethiopia’s GDP per capita growth with five developing Asian countries whose economic performance is seldom a headline, not as much as that of Ethiopia anyway. Ethiopia’s GDP per capita growth trails those of these countries by a widening margin over TPLF’s reign.

GDP per capita, PPP (Constant 2011 International $)


It is important to note that almost all of the above African and Asian countries were able to achieve higher economic growth, some of them moving to the middle-income category, in less time frame than TPLF has been in power.

Finally, Ethiopia’ is one of 48 countries the United Nations labels as Least Developed. Ethiopia is also one of 60-plus countries whose lack creditworthiness only makes them eligible for concessional credits and grants from the International Development Association (IDA). As mentioned above, Ethiopia is also one of three dozen, Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC).

Comparing Ethiopia’s GDP per capita growth with these groups and Sub-Sahara Africa reveals the same story. Not only is Ethiopia’s GDP per capita significantly lower than the average for anyone of the four groups, except for the HIPC group, Ethiopia is not catching up with the economic performance of the other three groups over time. In fact, the gaps are wider in 2015 than they were in 1993, a resounding verdict for TPLF’s poor performance.

GDP per capita, PPP (Constant 2011 International $)




A political solution for a poor economic performance

Politics and economics are intertwined in any organized society. In Ethiopia, today, the two are almost inseparable on so many levels: The TPLF regime controls all the real estate in the country, urban and rural land included; it is the largest employer; the largest procurer and the largest borrower. TPLF owns many of the biggest corporations that are major players in the national economy. Contrary to its pretense, the regime is fundamentally anti free enterprise. Politics rules every inch of economics.

The regime uses its political power to punish its opponents economically – individuals, groups, regions alike. It discriminates against regions that put up political resistance or support opposition parties in the allocations of public infrastructure; systematically undermining investments by certain private businesses in certain areas; and even by withholding medical and humanitarian support to “unfriendly” regions.

The ethnic political system has created a lack of security to private property, severely limiting inter-regional investment, trade, and tourism, hence also inter-regional transfer of entrepreneurial skills and business knowhow, all of which are essential for a sustained national economic growth. These economic opportunities have been lost over the past 26 years because they do not fit TPLF’s divide and conquer political paradigm.

Worse, the economic consequences of TPLF’s politics will outlast its life span. For example, the best resource any nation can have for economic growth is its human capital, a resource that is lost the fastest in a political system that stifles freedom of thought, creativity, entrepreneurship, and human development. Under TPLF’s tenure, Ethiopia has lost and continues to lose the cream of its educated and skilled manpower in all disciplines without exception. TPLF has systematically robbed Ethiopians the pride, security, and ownership of their country and have turned them into migrants and exiles. One cannot put enough economic value to this massive brain drain that will take a very long time to turn around.

There are bigger socio-political damages TPLF has inflicted on Ethiopia and Ethiopians. Their costs are incalculable. But on economic grounds alone, TPLF is not qualified to rule Ethiopia for a single day. Fundamentally, Ethiopia cannot prosper economically under a regime that is anti-Ethiopian politically. The solution is to remove it from power. Ideally, this would take place peacefully through the free will of the people, something TPLF will not allow to happen. The Ethiopian people are hence left with the only other choice – to remove it forcefully.

The writer can be reached at shiferawabebe1@gmail.com



Latest News in Ethiopia (May 2)



By Veronica Melaku

The status of Addis Ababa remains one of the most vexed and volatile sticking points for Ethiopians.
The bill that will realize Oromia’s constitutional right over the city of Adiss Ababa released from Oromia Regional state. This new bill is based on the unfair privilege guaranteed nearly 20 years ago for Oromia when a proclamation stablishing the constitution was ratified.

In this short article, I will primarily reflect my position about the city of Adiss Ababa.

1~ The Best-Case Scenario

All political forces particularlly Woyanie itself needs to get a better grip on reality, and understand that Addis Ababa is and will be remain under the controll of All Ethiopian.

Addis Ababa belongs to all Ethiopian . If special priviilage is ncessary over the city that privilege should be given to people of Amaras, who make up over half the population.

25 years ago People of Amhara were very much mystified by the evil and hidden ajendas of TPLF and OLF.

There are more Gurages in Addis than tigres and Oromos combined, who only make up a combined 15%. of the population.

2~ Second Best-Case Scenario

Let the Oromo establish their capital city somwhere else as the Amhara moved to Bahridar. Addis Ababa should be the capital city of all Ethiopians and African counties. Oromo should not be allowed to make their capital city in Addis Ababa .

Historicall Back ground
…..
Historically, the whloe Shewa area was the seat of famous Abyssinians kings like Emperor Amdetsion, Emperor Dawit ,king zereayakob and others.

When we go back 300 years earlier the whole shoa and Arisi area was home to Amhara kingdoms & Muslim sultanates which were part Abysinia. Old rock hewn churches like Adadi mariam in South Shewa & other old churches in Gurage areas dating back over 500 years are evidence of chrstianity presence before oromo expansion.

Among others Gafat, Argobba, Chebo, Gurage, Zay, Aymallal & worjie were semetic tribes inhabiting these area which joins northern semetic people all the way south to Gurage-Silti-Zay land. Their kingdomes were Damot, Ganz, Waj, Ifat & Shewa sultanate in which all of these located in todays Shoa Oromo & East wollega area. Northerners were weakened because of Gragn mohamed’s wars so as result they couldn’t help these small minority tribes from oromo invasion. Each having small population they couldn’t be able to resist oromo conquerors who are expanding their population size at a very fast rate whenever they raid into new territories.

Historians gives facts with time stamp, you and politicians responsibility is to read and make your own conclusion. I read this book and make my own conclusion. All rational conscious oromos and Ethiopians should read this book themselves and make their own conclusion. It’s better to be a rational readers and a follower at the same time rather than just be a follower.

In politics you can negotiate by saying you give me this and I will give you this in return but in the question of identity & history you cannot negotiate by saying I will not preach this fact or false history if you give me this.

I trusted this book because it is written by a foreigner who doesnot take sides between north & south and furthermore it uses a varied sources from 12th-18th centuary historians & travelers from portugese, arabs, turkishs, harar muslims & northern chrstian historians.

A donkey owner gives his animals healthier food in Ethiopia, where an estimated seven million donkeys are used for transporting water, wood, building materials and people.


By Daniel Teferra

Ethiopia’s rulers, under pressure from the public, recently ordered the slaughterhouse for donkeys in Bishoftu be closed. The meat was to be exported to Vietnam and the skin to China.

Trade can be mutually beneficial, but not when a country slaughters its farm assets; or exports its natural resources. All these are needed to create goods and services for domestic consumption and exports.

The current rulers do not seem to know or care much about that. Their only goal is to earn foreign exchange. For instance, they sell electric power to neighboring countries while the domestic demand goes unmet. The idea of exporting water to Djibouti is also being floated.

In the first place, the whole idea of slaughtering donkeys is culturally insensitive. In accordance with the teachings of the Orthodox Church in Ethiopia, Christians are not allowed to slaughter animals that do not have split hoofs. This should not have been lost by the Church leadership.

Furthermore for Christians in Ethiopia, the donkey is a peaceful animal. Based on Christian teachings, Jesus entered the capital city of Jerusalem to celebrate Passover on a donkey, an animal that demonstrated his peaceful intentions.

Traditionally, In Ethiopia, the donkey (ahya) is a tireless servant of the poor. “You don’t harm a friend that good,” we were told, growing up in Ethiopia. The donkey accompanied the soldier to the battle field carrying his ration. Mothers mention the service of the donkey in lullaby songs. As they sing, carrying their babies on their backs, they say, for a baby girl:

“እሽሩሩ ማሜ፣ እሽሩሩ ማሜ
የማሚቱ እናት ቶሎ ነይላት
ዳቦውን ባህያ፣ ወተቱን በጉያ፣ ቶሎ ነይላት!

And for a baby boy, they say:

“እሽሩሩ ማሞ፣ እሽሩሩ ማሞ
የማሙዬ እናት፣ ቶሎ ነይለት
ዳቦውን ባህያ፣ ወተቱን በጉያ፣ ቶሎ ነይለት!


The cultural ramifications aside, it does not make economic sense for Ethiopia to slaughter or export its donkeys. Ethiopia’s peasants, most of them dirt poor, rely mainly on the donkey for packing and riding.

Slaughtering donkeys not only reduces their supply drastically, but it will also decimate the mule population. Mules are off-springs of male donkeys and mares (female horses). Donkeys and mules are both hardy and versatile animals. Furthermore, mules have a reputation for their disproportionate strength and excellent hoofs. They also live longer than horses.

In Ethiopia, farming is still done by hand with the help of machete, hoe and burning. Oxen-drawn plow is not widely known. There is also a critical shortage of oxen. Therefore, the significance of donkeys, mules and horses for Ethiopia’s agriculture cannot be understated.

For example, if the traditional plow could be improved, farming with mules and horses could work efficiently well on Ethiopia’s small scale farms. In addition, farming with draft animals is sound ecologically.

Ethiopia’s trade relation with the outside world will be beneficial if Ethiopia can transform its peasant farming first. That will enable Ethiopia to produce a diverse group of agricultural products for exports. Ethiopia is still stuck with its traditional exports of coffee, hides and skins and oilseeds.

For instance, Ethiopia could export pork to China. According to USDA, domestic consumption of pork in China has increased five-fold since 1980. Unable to keep up with the ever-rising demand, China has been importing pork in large quantities.

Thus, in order to take advantage of the massive Chinese market, Ethiopia could introduce pig farms instead of establishing slaughterhouses for donkeys. If that is possible, Ethiopia’s peasant farmers will be able to improve their incomes, and the government will be able to reap tax revenues and foreign exchange. Then Ethiopia will not have to engage in a destructive trade relationship and impoverish itself further.

*Emeritus Professor of Economics.



Translate ‘Addis Ababa’ to a foreigner and her eyes glaze over at the thought of miles of beautiful parks, boulevards and streets lined up with ornamental prune trees, and pedestrian-friendly clean neighborhoods. Alas, the reality could not be further from the truth. Addis Ababa is today a dense, brutal, and crowded city, with serious deficiencies in housing, drinking water, power, sewerage, solid waste disposal, and other services. Everywhere we look, we see evidence of unthinkable inequality, deprivation and filth.

Fifty years ago, my father likened to say ‘There is no garden in Addis Ababa… Addis is in a garden.’ I suppose with the speed of growth Addis witnessed in the past few decades, and the scarcity of means with which it could respond to it, things must have gone out of control. Yes, cities are messy, complex places to administer. But what cities can be, is smarter about how they approach the issue. Today, Addis Ababa has the exclusive opportunity to reinvent its city centre. It can not only rejuvenate itself, but also give a preview of how an African City of the 21st Century could look like and function.

These last ten years, as large amount of area is freed up right in the heart of the city, the chance to plan a completely new activity centre for the city has arisen. Unfortunately, the redevelopment so far seems to be utterly sterile. Look at Arat Kilo (my home quarter), where there was once a vibrant community, busy alleys, family owned businesses, artisan workshops, small soccer fields and more, is today being replaced by new residents, soulless new assemblage of buildings with absolutely zero character or taste. And yet, poor Arat Kilo could have been one of the tourist attraction of the city, had it been allowed to keep its mixed-use habitats, and high-density neighborhoods and was provided with sewage systems, water, electricity, roads, wi-fis and other state of the art amenities, regardless of how slummy or messy it looked.

Go further to AYAT and beyond, a featureless new quarter.

Over the past decade and a half, the nation’s developers and government officials have replicated discredited urban planning templates, importing ideas that were tested, failed and long since abandoned in places like Europe and the US.

But the most amusing development of all is the attempt by the city to create a so called financial centre between Mexico Square and the National Bank of Ethiopia – which meant for the authorities replicating the plans for the Loop in Chicago or Canary Wharf in London, or Wall Street in New York. Here the containers are mistaken for the contents. But no one goes to Mexico Square to see the buildings

That’s not all, now check out the development around the UNECA, where monotonous hotel buildings and bunch of apartments completely masked one of the magnificent UN campuses in the world. Today that complex is almost out of sight. A repeat around the AU Commission campus may be developing.

In the whole, the wrong sort of architecture and urban planning has been favored – an approach that favors, horizontal grouping of buildings (of any kind) instead of, say, business. And what’s frightening is the lack of citizens’ engagement in policymaking and the design of public services. So, to any Addis Ababian willing to listen – before it’s too late – it’s time to claim back the essence of the new flower or the image of Addis Ababa.

Here are six modest ideas:

First, let’s decide on the kind of city we, the citizens, want to have and then start rebuilding our city the way we want it. Ideally government should provide the land and the infrastructure, but beyond that, we should be free to build what we need, neighborhood by neighborhood, each with its own main street, shops, banks, schools, hospitals, entertainment centers etc . Each complex becoming a small town, and their numbers would make up this sprawling capital. Indeed, this was how Addis was founded at the start of the 20th century, with the then aristocrats and army commanders setting up their own camps i.e. Ras Mulugeta Sefer, Dejazmach Zewedu Abba Koran, Dejach Wube are some among others.

Today, many misunderstand Addis Ababa as informal and illogical because of the dualist notion of the city as divided into polar opposites: Urban and rural, rich and poor, formal and informal, order and mess. But Ethiopian culture accepts that mess and order are inseparable: this is why Ethiopians are so tolerant of urban forms that the West would see as “irrational” or “messy” — neighborhoods develop and slowly integrate with the larger urban system on their own terms. Addis was built with no zoning rules to become a fantastically integrated mixed-use city. With some imagination, involvement, and incremental development we can still build what would be a prosperous city where the inhabitants would preserve their customs and social organization. In other words, a city with character.

Second, let’s make (not talk) Addis the greenest city of Africa, a city that builds electric light train, but also provides a new way of thinking about urban living. A city moving from a consumer society to a collaborative society; a city that has high acceptance of public transit, bicycle pathways, and pedestrian walkways; a city that can encourage and support residents to grow their own food. Utopia? Not at all! It is in fact within our ability to change, say, within a time span of twenty years. Encouraging, say, small plot or integrated farming, known as permaculture, is an initiative everyone can be involved in, and make a small difference in their community and surrounding environment, it can even create employment, lots of it, for young people. As you might imagine, for a green future in Addis Ababa, multiple actions need to be taken: from localized high-level policy frameworks, to harnessing residents’ love for nature.

Third, let’s rethink our deference to car travel (a copy paste of another value and culture) and stop crafting our landscape around automotive transport. Look at New York city, note the compactness of its development, the fertile mix of commercial and residential uses, and the availability of public transportation. All that has made automobile ownership all but unnecessary in most of New York city. So why not adopt the same vision for Addis, and promote biking, buses and modern traffic systems, as well the building of pleasant sidewalks.

Fourth, let’s stop pushing out lower wage residents and service workers out to the far-off peripheries, where opportunities are fewest, where they can barely afford to live, and where their economic conditions continues to sink. Aren’t they part of the fabric of Addis Ababa? The future of our city should not be a city of dull, boring, rich people only.

Fifth, let’s build an inclusive Addis Ababa with strong community bonds, incorporating resilience, innovations and technologies in areas such as infrastructure, governance and security. For this is a necessary first step to get political, business and civic leaders to agree on a shared vision and common agenda for joint action on the city’s economic growth and inclusion. Of course collaboration does not happen naturally, particularly in view of past experiences and the way our Kebeles work, where politics and the ruling party members dominate the discourse. Still, I think residents can come together and make Addis a hotbed of high tech and the leading startup cities in Africa. Let’s catch up Nairobi and Kigali.

Which leads me to my sincerest piece of advice: If we have any ambition for creating inclusive, resilient, green, healthy, just, smart or livable Addis Ababa, then we should, above all, effectively tackle corruption.

Enough said!