Ethiopia has the second lowest mobile penetration rate

November 18, 2012 — Ethiopia has the second lowest mobile penetration rate in Africa (17%), according to a new study released by GSMA, a group of mobile service distributors devoted to supporting the standardization of a global industry.

In its report titled, Sub-Saharan Africa Mobile Observatory 2012, mobile penetration rates in sub-Sahara Africa (SSA) has increased by 44 percent to 475 million, compared to just 12.3 million land line subscriptions.

Since 2011, the economies of SSA have profited from the growth of the mobile sector and its related ecosystems. An estimated US$32 billion of direct economic benefit has been credited to the thriving mobile markets, the study finds.

According to the data, Mauritania has the highest mobile penetration rates in Africa with 88 percent, while neighboring Eritrea has the lowest with 6 percent. Somalia, surprisingly, has the highest mobile penetration rates in the Horn of Africa with 35 percent.

The study also cautions high levels of government levies and regulations in SSA could be obstacles for future growth.


Ethiopia has the second lowest mobile penetration rates in Africa
 (Photo Credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images) 

Ethiopian Government bans in Ethiopia

Nov. 18, 2012  — Ethiopian authorities have blocked access to in Ethiopia since last week in connection with stories the dictatorial regime found unfavorable.

With the current block in place, Durame joins a long list of websites banned in the country, including,,, VOA, and 150 other Ethiopian websites.

Visitors of Durame report an all-too familiar sign of "access denied" when attempting to visit this website. Some have said they can still access the site through mobile phones and proxies.

According to a report issued by GSMA, a global association of mobile service providers, less than 17 percent of Ethiopians have a mobile phone, the second lowest in Africa.

Even more alarming for rights activists is only 1.1 percent of Ethiopians have access to the internet, the lowest in Africa, according to Internet World Stats.

The few with access to the web complain of slow connections, excessive censorship and government authorities using their search activities to spy on them.

Addis Ababa is often accused by rights groups of slowing the growth of its digital sector in order to censor its population from accessing information that's critical of its administration.

Ethiopian regime bans in Ethiopia (Photo credit: MotoVa)

Eritrea and Ethiopia: Inching closer to peace and war

Nov. 17, 2012  — Since the demise of former dictator Meles Zenawi on August 20, a number of neighborly goodwill gestures have been conducted by Eritrea and Ethiopia, while at the same time, both governments are reportedly on heighten alert for all out war.

Following the death of Meles Zenawi, who died from complications of late stage liver cancer in Belgium, Eritrea's deputy ambassador to the AU, Beniam Berhe, visited the Ethiopian National Palace and signed the book of condolences. The young diplomat was also seen comforting the grieving former first lady, Azeb Mesfin.

Interestingly enough, during the same time period, Eritrea has suspended all Ethiopian opposition groups from airing news on their national channel Eri-TV.

On its part, the Ethiopian government has freed dozens of Eritrean prisoners that were captured during Ethiopia's March 16 invasion of Eritrea, that reportedly killed more than 214 Ethiopian troops, according to one source with ties to the secretive Ethiopian National Intelligence and Security Service.

Recently, during the election process at the UN for the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary position, It was reported that both Ethiopia and Djibouti voted for the Eritrean candidate, Tesfa Alem Seyoum. These crucial votes helped secure his victory over his rivals.

Amid all this, South Sudan, which is tangled in its own border dispute with neighboring Sudan, said it will select delegates that will embark on shuttle diplomacy between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

"We will embark on rounds of shuttle diplomacy between the two countries. We are hoping to start in November," said Deng Alor, South Sudan's minister for cabinet affairs.

But among these goodwill gestures and early signs of peace, there are rumored reports coming out of Addis Ababa that Abay Woldu, the President of Tigray region of Ethiopia and the newly appointed Chairmen of TPLF, is trying to convince his party to invade Eritrea and annex its port city of Assab.

Abay, who is described as a conservative Tigrayan nationalist, often speaks critically of Eritrea and Ethiopia during meetings. He, along with TPLF founder Sebhat Nega, are rumored to be in favor of going to war with Eritrea to create an independent Tigray state. They regard their minority Tigrayan hegemony over Ethiopia as unsustainable and dangerous for their people.

Informed sources have said that Ethopia is amassing its troops in the Afar region bordering Eritrea, which could be a sign that the regime is still uncomfortable with peace. Addis Ababa's belligerent stance towards Eritrea continues to be a source of instability for the region.

Only time will tell if cooler heads prevail, but with Meles gone and Ethiopia's regime split among rivaling factions, bravado towards Eritrea maybe seen as a sign of party loyalty for a small clique of Tigrayan men vying for power.

Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki shaking hands of former Ethiopian
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in Algeria.

Senior Ethiopian official defects to Canada and Claims Asylum

November 11, 2012 — Atakliti Hagos, the Director of the Federal Civil Service Agency of Ethiopia, has defected to Canada last month and is seeking political asylum, Ethsat reported.

The Amsterdam-based news network said Atakliti was reported to have been absent from his work for over two months but arrived in Canada with his family to seek asylum over a month ago.

His decision to abandon within weeks of the appointment of Hailemariam Desalegn as prime minister might be considered as a vote of no-confidence for the regime, observers have noted.

Following the demise of former dictator Meles Zenawi in August, at least two other senior Ethiopian politicians have defected to the United States and Canada.

Meanwhile, sources have disclosed Communications Minister Bereket Simons, who has become the de facto ruler of Ethiopia, is planning to purge a number of officials in the coming weeks.

Communications Minister Bereket Simons becomes de facto ruler of Ethiopia

Ethiopian Air Force General fired for questioning TPLF

November 06, 2012 — General Molla Hailemariam, the commander of the Ethiopian Air Force, has been fired from his post and replaced by General Mehari Tekele, according to U.S.-based opposition websites and sources within Addis Ababa.

General Molla, who is of the Amhara ethnicity, was sacked by Communications Minister Bereket Simon, after he had complained of unfair favoritism for Tigrayans in the military who are being promoted based on their ethnicity over more qualified candidates.

Bereket, who has become the unofficial ruler of Ethiopia after the demise of former dictator Meles Zenawi, is reportedly purging military officials who fail to show absolute loyalty to his TPLF faction, a source familiar with the situation informed Durame by phone.

Last September, in a bid to consolidate power, Bereket appointed thirty-four colonels to the rank of brigadier general and three colonels to major generals, who were all reported to have been of the Tigrayan ethnicity that caused resentment among non-Tigrayan military officials.

Despite the Tigray ethnic group consisting of less than six percent of Ethiopia's population, they hold nearly all the senior banking, political and military positions in the country. Some observers have described Ethiopia's extreme minority ethnic hegemony as a powder keg destined to ignite.

Ethiopia's air force chief, General Molla Hailemariam, is fired by Bereket Simon