June 20, 2012

USAID: supporting the Ethiopia dictator and feeding the nation in prison

Financing deal to boost economic growth – The US is set to sign a new financing agreement with Ethiopia to provide US$675 million under a new five-year Country Development Strategy aimed at helping Addis Ababa to quicken its economic growth, the US embassy here said Monday. The US International Development Agency (USAID) Mission Director, Thomas Staal, and Ethiopia’s State Minister of Finance Ahmed Shide, are set to ink the five-year deal here Tuesday, at a ceremony to be witnessed by the US ambassador to Ethiopia, Donald Booth.

Ethiopia is one of the few African countries with stronger business, economic and political ties with the US and is often considered Washington DC’s strongest regional security partner in the Horn of Africa region, where its Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, remains deeply influential.

USAID said in a statement that the funds would be channelled into development and humanitarian assistance in the first year of the new five-year Country Development Cooperation Strategy.

Ethiopia implements one of the region’s most sophisticated work-for-food programme aimed at helping people living in remote areas to access food from a government-sponsored project in exchange for work done.

But aid agencies and international human rights groups have in the past accused Addis Ababa of using the programme to buy political loyalty, something the government vehemently denies.

Under the current aid budget, Ethiopia benefits from assistance to boost agriculture, fight the effects of climate change and offers humanitarian assistance to the deprived populations.

The funds are aimed at stimulating the private sector growth and development and encouraging investments into Ethiopia.

The East African nation is currently Africa’s largest recipient of the US aid, with a figure of US$350 million in emergency aid alone in 2010.

USAID says although it continues to provide assistance to Ethiopia, the earlier democratic gains which came with Meles’s ascension to power appears to have been lost, incidents of over-regulation and strict government control of the economy appears to be a major challenge.

USAID says in its most recent report that the crisis in North Africa which resulted in regime changes, appears not to have been noted in Ethiopia, where democracy and accountability still exist.

Pana 18/06/2012


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