ethiopiantimes

December 29, 2013

Teddy Afro never made holy war remark

Filed under: Teddy afro — ethiopiantimes @ 11:25 pm
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Last week witnessed an interesting turn of events surrounding an alleged comment artist Teddy Afro gave to the Enqu magazine in an exclusive interview.Enqu magazine's cover quoting Teddy Afro as saying 'For me, Menilik's unification campaign was a Holy War' - (Ethiopia)

The first soft copy version of the magazine quoted the singer saying: ‘For me, Menelik’s unification campaign was a Holy War’.

The cover carrying the above comment was distributed by the editors of magazine through their email database. That led to an uproar of anger and criticism on the already controversial Teddy .

Later on, another cover of the hard copy emerged with a completely different header – where Teddy emphasizes his trademark rhetoric of – ‘understating history and the past to create the future’ (not a direct translation).

Then some groups who kept quite or defended Teddy on the first comment started bashing the Teddy critiques. They claimed that it was a conspiracy to destroy the good name and will of the singer. Some claimed that it was a Photoshop.

Subsequently, another revelation surfaced.

The editors of the Enqu magazine sent an apology letter to their subscribers explaining that it was all a ‘technical’ error and claimed Teddy did not make the ‘Crusade’ remark.

That is where things stand so far as far as I am informed.

What do I make of the saga?

First, I have worked in the print media at least for three years and understand the basic and simple procedures of publication, especially the front page approval process.

I can claim boldly that the cover page was not distributed without the approval of the managing editor, editor-in-chief or other high ranking person in the magazine. It could not be a technical error that slipped through. That raises the possibility that the editorial team agreed to send it through but later decided to alter it.

Second, Teddy Afro is very capable of making such comments.

His unreserved love and appreciation for Menelik, his unexamined and narrow knowledge of history, and the existence of a fan base that swallows whatever comes out of him without chewing are the three most points that facilitate such a statement.

I was as usual disappointed by the people who said nothing about the ignorant and insensitive comment (even at the time it was sure that he said it) or those who even tried to defend it. Shame on You.

Teddy’s preaching on peace, love and unity is a uninformed, shallow and naive. There can’t be love without truth. And at this moment he doesn’t look like he is able or willing to face the truth and preach it.

I restrain myself from commenting on such incidents, but I am forced to do so now because of his huge following the unimaginable hypocrisy of people who preach love and unity.

It is sad that our debates and discussions are not informed and is initiated by a confused and mis/uninformed singer.

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December 18, 2013

Ethiopian maid found hanging by tree in Saudi

Filed under: Saudi Arabia — ethiopiantimes @ 9:13 am
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An Ethiopian housemaid was found hanging by a tree near her employer’s house in Saudi Arabia and police believe the woman had committed a suicide.

Passers-by in a neighborhood in the southern town of Najran stumbled across the hanging body and called the police.

“Police said the maid appears to have committed a suicide.” Sabq Arabic language daily Sabq said without indentifying the maid.

Source: emirates247.com

December 15, 2013

Moyale Residents Flee to Neighbouring Ethiopia

Filed under: Ethiopia,Kenya — ethiopiantimes @ 7:41 pm
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December 12, 2013

Israel turned down an offer of a blood donation from an Ethiopian-born lawmaker.

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The speaker of Israel’s parliament ordered a blood-collection crew to leave the legislature’s premises on Wednesday after it turned down an offer of a blood donation from an Ethiopian-born lawmaker.

Knesset member Pnina Tamano-Shata, 32, wanted to donate blood to a routine visit by an ambulance service but was told by a member of the crew that set criteria disqualified her because she emigrated to Israel from Ethiopia at age three.

Israeli Health Ministry criteria bar people born in most African countries since 1977 from donating blood due to a fear that there is an increased risk they may carry the HIV virus.

Tamano-Shata said ministry guidelines determine that Ethiopian-born Jews who emigrated to Israel when they were over two years old are ineligible to be blood donors.

“Clearly, my blood samples are checked, there has never been any cause for concern … nevertheless, there is an attitude of not bothering to scrutinize (blood donations of Ethiopian immigrants) even though they know that it humiliates an entire community,” she told Channel 10 television.

Israeli President Shimon Peres expressed disgust at the incident, saying: “There must not be any differentiation between Israeli people’s blood. All Israel’s citizens are equal.”

Health Minister Yael German described the incident as “a disgrace” and said she would order a public consultation to change the guidelines. A parliamentary committee is set to discuss the incident next week.

The World Health Organization said on its website that surveillance in Ethiopia as of September showed the adult rate of AIDs is estimated at 6.6 percent among a total population of over 90 million people.

In 1996, thousands from Israel’s Ethiopian community besieged the office of then-Prime Minister Peres in a violent protest at what they called Israeli racism against blacks.

They demonstrated after discovering that the national blood bank had a policy of throwing out their donations for fear of AIDS. New guidelines were subsequently made public but these still prevent Ethiopian Jews from giving blood.

Israel’s community of Ethiopian Jews numbers some 100,000. They moved to Israel after chief rabbis determined in 1973 that the community had biblical roots.

Since 1996, fewer than 10 Jews of Ethiopian origin have made it into Israel’s parliament as members if various factions. Some from the community have attained officer rank in the military but complaints of discrimination in schooling and housing are common.

(Editing by Philip Barbara)

December 7, 2013

ከንቲባ ድሪባ የእሳት ቃጠሎ ተጐጂዎችን አቤቱታ አጣራዋለሁ አሉ

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 7:42 pm
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December 07, 2013
fireበመርካቶ የጅምላ መደብሮችና መጋዝኖች ላይ ረቡዕ ዕለት የተከሰተውን ቃጠሎ ለማጥፋት የተጠሩ የእሣት አደጋ መከላከያ ተቋም ሠራተኞች ጉቦ ጠይቀውናል በማለት ተጐጂዎቹ ለከተማዋ ከንቲባ አቤቱታ ያቀረቡ ሲሆን፣ ተቋሙ አቤቱታውን በማስተባበል ሦስት ሰራተኞች እንደቆሰሉበት ገለፀ፡፡ ለ5 ሰዓታት የዘለቀው ቃጠሎ፤ ከ40 በላይ መደብሮችና መጋዘኖች ላይ ከፍተኛ ጉዳት ከማድረሱም በተጨማሪ ከ30 በላይ ሰዎችም እንደተጐዱ ተገልጿል፡፡ የአዲስ አበባ ከንቲባ ድሪባ ኩማ ከትናንት በስቲያ ሐሙስ በስፍራው ተገኝተው ተጐጂዎችን ያነጋገሩ ሲሆን፣ በእሣት አደጋ መከላከያ ተቋም ሠራተኞች ላይ አቤቱታ አሰምተዋል። የተቋሙ ሰራተኞች በቦታው ከደረሱ በኋላ፣ “እሳቱን ለማጥፋት ከበላይ አካል መመሪያ አልተላለፈልንም” በሚል ሰበብ “ቆመው ሲያዩ ነበር” በማለት ምሬታቸውን የገለፁ ተጎጂዎች፤ አንዳንድ የተቋሙ ሰራተኞች ደግሞ “ጉቦ እንድንሰጣቸው ሲደራደሩ ብዙ ንብረት ጠፍቷል” ብለዋል፡፡ መጋዘንና መደብር እንደወደመባቸው ለአዲስ አድማስ የገለፁ ነጋዴ፤ እሣት አደጋዎች የድረሱልን ጥሪው ከተላለፈላቸው በኋላ ዘግይተው ነው የመጡት፤ እዚህ ከደረሱ በኋላም መመሪያ አልተላለፈልንም በሚል ቆመው ይመለከቱ ነበር ብለዋል፡፡

ከዚህ ቀደም በአካባቢው ከ4 ጊዜ በላይ የእሣት አደጋ መድረሡንና የአሁኑ ቃጠሎ ከሁሉም የከፋ መሆኑን የተናገሩ ሌላ ነጋዴ በበኩላቸው፤ የአካባቢው ሰው እሳቱን ለማጥፋት ሲረባረብ የእሣት አደጋ ሠራተኞች ከበላይ ትእዛዝ እየጠበቅን ነው በማለት ቆመው መመልከታቸው እንዳሣዘናቸው ገልፀዋል፡፡ “ከዚህ ቀደም በፍጥነት እሳት ለማጥፋት ክሬን ይጠቀሙ ነበር፤ አሁን ለምን ክሬን እንዳልተጠቀሙ እንዲገለፅልን እንፈልጋለን” የሚሉት እኚሁ ቅሬታ አቅራቢ፤ የወገን ንብረት እየወደመ መመሪያ እንጠብቃለን ብሎ መቆም አሣዛኝ ነው ብለዋል፡፡ ከንቲባ ድሪባ ኩማ፤ የተጐጂዎቹን አቤቱታ ካዳመጡ በኋላ “መመሪያ አልተላለፈልንም ወይም ገንዘብ ክፈሉኝ” ብሎ ዳተኝነት ያሳየ ሰራተኛ ካለ፣ ራሴ የማጣራው ጉዳይ ነው፣ የአደጋው መንስኤም በቶሎ ተጣርቶ ይገለጻል” ብለዋል፡፡ በጉዳዩ ዙሪያ ያነጋገርናቸው በአዲስ አበባ እሣትና ድንገተኛ አደጋዎች መከላከያ የኮሚኒኬሽን ጉዳዮች ሃላፊ አቶ ንጋቱ ማሞ በበኩላቸው፤ የአደጋውን የጥፋት መጠን በገንዘብ ለማስላት ለጊዜው ባይቻልም 40 የንግድ ሱቆች እና 5 መጋዘኖች ከነሙሉ ንብረታቸው መውደሙን ተናግረዋል፡፡

32 ሰዎች ቀላል ጉዳት እንደደሠረባቸውና ከነዚህ መካከል ሶስቱ የእሣት አደጋ ባለሙያዎች ሲሆኑ በጦር ሃይሎች ሆስፒታል ህክምና እየተደረገላቸው ነው ብለዋል-አቶ ንጋቱ፡፡ እሣቱን ለማጥፋት አስፈላጊው መስዋዕትነት ተከፍሏል ያሉት አቶ ንጋቱ፤ “ጉዳት የደረሠበት ሠው ቅሬታ ለምን አቀረብክ ባይባልም፤ ባለሙያዎቹ በቸልታ ይመለከቱ ነበር፣ በገንዘብ ይደራደሩ ነበር የሚለው አባባል ስሜታዊነት የተንፀባረቀበት ነው፤ ችግሩ በተነገረው መጠን አይደለም” ሲሉ ምላሽ ሠጥተዋል፡፡ በፍጥነት ባለሙያዎች አልደረሡም ለተባለውም በትራንስፖርት መጨናነቅ ምክንያት 10 ደቂቃ ያህል ብቻ መዘግየት ማጋጠሙን የተናገሩት አቶ ንጋቱ፤ ቦታው አመቺ ባለመሆኑ፣ ተቀጣጣይ ነገሮች በብዛት በመኖራቸው፣ በአቅራቢያው ውሃ ባለመኖሩ እና ስራውን ለባለሙያዎች ያለመተው ችግር ተደማምረው በሚፈለገው ፍጥነት እሣቱን መቆጣጠር አልተቻለም ብለዋል፡፡ እሣቱን ለማጥፋትም 10 የአደጋ መከላከያ መኪኖችና 7 አምቡላንሶችን በመጠቀም 585 ሺህ ሊትር ውሃ እና 144 የአደጋ ጊዜ ሠራተኞችን ድርጅታቸው መጠቀሙን የገለፁት ሃላፊው፤ ክሬን መምጣት ነበረበት ለተባለው ድርጅቱ ያሉት ክሬኖች ለዚህ ጉዳይ አገልግሎት መስጠት የሚችሉ አይደሉም ብለዋል፡፡

December 5, 2013

Farewell Mandela

Filed under: Mandela — ethiopiantimes @ 11:03 pm
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Mandela

December 4, 2013

The Looting of food aid country: Ethiopia rolls out dollar millionaires at the fastest rate

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 8:29 pm
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Ethiopia rolls out dollar millionaires at the fastest rate

Written by  on December 4, 2013 in EconomyNews – No comments xxx
Wealth ImageEthiopia registered 108% growth (topping all of Africa from a low base) in dollar millionaires in the six years period between 2007 and 2013 to have 2700 of high net worth individuals (HNWI) while South Africa recorded moderate growth in this period but remains on top in Africa in terms of total number of HNWI.

This comes out of the latest survey results of New World Wealth, an Oxford based wealth consultancy. The survey looked at millionaires across the African continent. It says Millionaires refer to individuals with net assets of US$1 million or more excluding their primary residences.

“This study focuses on HNWI performance between the end of 2007; the peak before the global financial crisis; and 2013. This enables us to determine how well the country’s HNWIs have performed through the crisis,” said the statement announcing the findings.

Key findings have Ethiopia as the fastest growing African country for millionaires over the past 6 years followed by Angola, Tanzania, Zambia and then Ghana.

Africa: Fastest growing countries for millionaires, 2007 – 2013

Rank

Country

Growth %

Millionaires, 2007

Millionaires, 2013

1

Ethiopia

108%

1,300

2,700

2

Angola

68%

3,800

6,400

3

Tanzania

51%

3,700

5,600

4

Zambia

50%

600

900

5

Ghana

50%

1,600

2,400

6

Nigeria

44%

10,900

15,700

7

Algeria

41%

2,900

4,100

8

Ivory Coast

31%

1,600

2,100

9

Morocco

26%

3,900

4,900

10

Kenya

24%

6,700

8,300

Note: Numbers rounded to nearest 100.
Source: NW-Wealth.com   

The survey juxtaposes growth in millionaires in countries’ to GDP per capita growth. In the case of Ethiopia there appears to be a strong correlation. Ethiopia also shows strong (93%) GDP per capita growth which tops the African list for the period between 2007 and 2012. “It should be noted, however, that it (Ethiopia) does start from a very low base so the growth is somewhat expected. Ethiopia is one of the largest countries in Africa in terms of population with over 85 million inhabitants and we expect it to become one of the 10 largest African wealth markets by 2030.”

 The statement also noted that over the 2007 to 2013 period many developed markets experienced a decrease in millionaire numbers. “Overall, worldwide HNWI numbers are up by only 9% since 2007.”

In Africa, South Africa remains on top with 48,700 millionaires in 2013, followed by Egypt with 22,800 and Nigeria with 15,700.

Africa: Top 10 countries ranked by millionaires, 2013
Rank Country Millionaires, 2007 Millionaires, 2013 Growth %
1 South Africa 42,800 48,700 14%
2 Egypt 22,300 22,800 2%
3 Nigeria 10,900 15,700 44%
4 Kenya 6,700 8,300 24%
5 Tunisia 5,600 6,400 14%
6 Angola 3,800 6,400 68%
7 Libya 6,200 6,300 2%
8 Tanzania 3,700 5,600 51%
9 Morocco 3,900 4,900 26%
10 Algeria 2,900 4,100 41%

Source: NW-Wealth.com 

“In terms of growth rate forecasts to 2030, Ivory Coast comes out on top, followed by Zambia, Ghana and then Ethiopia,” said the statement.

By 2030, South Africa will still be the top ranked African country in terms of millionaires, while Nigeria will jump ahead of Egypt.”

Africa: Fastest growing countries for millionaires, 2013 – 2030
Rank Country Millionaires, 2013 Millionaires, 2030 Growth %
1 South Africa 48,700 86,700 78%
2 Nigeria 15,700 43,000 174%
3 Egypt 22,800 34,700 52%
4 Kenya 8,300 21,200 155%
5 Angola 6,400 15,600 144%
6 Tanzania 5,600 15,200 171%
7 Tunisia 6,400 12,400 94%
8 Libya 6,300 10,500 67%
9 Morocco 4,900 9,700 98%
10 Ethiopia 2,700 7,900 193%

Source: NW-Wealth.com 

December 3, 2013

How you pay £4m to fund the Ethiopian Spice Girls

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 4:26 pm
Tags: , , ,
  • Yegna are a five-strong group that aim to empower women
  • Is part of a £30million scheme called Girl Hub that also operates in Nigeria
  • Have their own radio show but it only reaches half the population
  • Group given £3.8m by the UK Department for International Development

By Larisa Brown

PUBLISHED: 22:04 GMT, 15 November 2013 | UPDATED: 10:23 GMT, 16 November 2013

 

UK taxpayers have picked up a £4million bill to fund Ethiopia’s own Spice Girls.

Yegna, a five-strong group, have launched a radio show and released a string of videos that aim to empower women in the African country.

But even Ethiopian critics of the project say the money is being wasted because the show reaches only a quarter of the population.

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The British aid-funded girl band: 'Yegna' dubbed the Ethiopian 'Spice Girls' are funded by the Department for International development in collaboration with the Nike FoundationThe British aid-funded girl band: ‘Yegna’ dubbed the Ethiopian ‘Spice Girls’ are funded by the Department for International development in collaboration with the Nike Foundation

 

In Britain, the TaxPayers’ Alliance said the £10billion aid budget should not be squandered in this way.

Ethiopia has become one of the biggest recipients of British funds, despite being an autocratic one-party state. The new Yegna ‘entertainment brand’, established in April, is part of a £30million scheme called Girl Hub that also operates in Nigeria and Rwanda.

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Like the original Spice Girls, the band members each have a nickname. Teref Kassahun, 26, plays the spoiled brat, Lemlem Hailemicheal, 26, a tomboy known as the defender, Zebiba Girma, 22, the mysterious character, Eyerusalem Kelemework, 27, is the genius and Rahel Getu, 22, the dependable one.

Lyrics to one of their songs, This House, included: ‘Women are sisters, women are mothers, women are wives. Let’s respect them. Tell that guy to respect girls and we will respect him.’

Yegna is behind a twice-weekly radio drama and talk show for adolescent girls. They have been given £3.8million by the Department for International Development and £800,000 by the Nike Foundation.

Listen to girl group Yenga’s song Abet (Ethiopia’s ‘Spice Girls’)

Watch full video here

Nicknames: Sara is described as 'the smartest girl in class, always getting the highest grades'
Scary? Mimi is 'tough but caring, she's principled but cool'

Nicknames: Sara (left) is described as ‘the smartest girl in class’ and ‘always getting the highest grades’ while Mimi is ‘tough but caring’

 

A DfID spokesman said girls in Ethiopia faced challenges such as forced marriage, violence, teen pregnancy and dropping out of school.

‘Yegna addresses these issues using role models to champion the potential of Ethiopian girls in ways which are accessible and relevant,’ said the spokesman. But the Yegna radio broadcasts on Sheger FM in Addis Ababa and on other radio stations in the Amhara region, reach only 20million of the country’s 80million people.

Last year the Girl Hub project was condemned by the Independent Commission for Aid Impact. Its report warned of serious deficiencies in governance and told of an unacceptable lack of child protection policies. Girl Hub has also been accused of ‘poor budgeting and financial monitoring’.

Baby? Melat is 'cute, hip and fun and a Yegnaís princess'
Nice: Lemlem's character is described as 'patient, caring and kind'

Baby? Melat (left) is ‘cute, hip and fun and a Yegnaís princess’ and Lemlem’s character is described as ‘patient, caring and kind’

 

Matthew Sinclair of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘Taxpayers are fed up of their hard-earned cash being spent on projects that don’t deliver meaningful aid to recipients.

‘It’s time to reassess DfID spending and focus money on things like disaster relief, so that taxpayers and recipients get a good deal.’

Tory MP Philip Davies described Girl Hub as ‘a complete waste of money’. ‘It can only reinforce the view that DfID have got far too much money,’ he said. ‘They have got so much that they are struggling to find ways to spend it and you end up with projects like this.’

A source told the Mail that Yegna had proved lucrative for the five young women: ‘They came from poor backgrounds, three of them worked for a theatre company. Now they are rich in comparison.’ Overseers of the three-year project allegedly spent £16,000 of the funding on having a famous singing star in one of the girls’ music videos. DfID has denied this claim.

Idol: Emuye is Yegnaís queen and the 'girl we'd all love to be'Idol: Emuye is Yegnaís queen and the ‘girl we’d all love to be’

 

Slammed: The group have been criticised in Ethiopia for being a waste of money Slammed: The group have been criticised in Ethiopia for being a waste of money

 

The managing director of an Ethiopian media company working to empower women said he could run his project for 154 years at the same cost as the Yegna initiative. Moges Tafesse, from Synergy Habesha, said: ‘To me, the project does seem very expensive.’

Mr Tafesse said his show, Finote Heawan, will be broadcast on FM97 – a government-owned radio station the entire country can listen to.

A media commentator, who did not want to be named, said: ‘Putting on the radio show is nonsense.

This kind of empowering women has to be aimed at the people in the countryside – it is those girls who are abandoned.

Those girls who are in the city with access to the show have got their education and know about their rights.’

Lemlem told the Mail: ‘It is definitely worth the cost – it is an amazing issue. It means a lot to Ethiopia and we are using the money effectively. It is a big change.

‘We are like the Spice Girls except our music is not just for entertaining – it is educational.’

Similarities? The group are supposed to 'empower women', following in the footsteps of the Spice GirlsSimilarities? The group are supposed to ’empower women’, following in the footsteps of the Spice Girls

 

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IMF and Ethiopia’s Economic Growth

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 12:47 pm
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The Ethiopian government and some external organizations claim that Ethiopia has recently become one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its October 2013 report concludes that Ethiopia’s “robust economic growth in recent years has been accompanied by significant poverty reduction and improved living standard.” The purpose of this article, therefore, is to check these assertions with available evidence.

In 2005-2009, the Ethiopian economy grew at an annual average rate of 8 percent net, after a 2.6% population increase per year. This was a significant growth compared to previous periods. In 1990-1994, the economy grew by -2.9 percent; 1995-1999 by 1.8 percent and in 2000-2004 by 2.9 percent net.

The surge in economic growth in 2005-2009 was the result of an unprecedented increase in government spending on infrastructure, which was financed through borrowing and foreign aid. The contribution of foreign direct investment to growth was negligible while net export was negative—evidence that government spending did not transform domestic production. Instead, it leaked mostly to the outside world.

The government, obviously, did not partner with the private sector in its growth strategy. Thus, the major beneficiaries of government spending were public enterprises, Chinese state-owned companies and few other foreign firms. There was some contribution to growth during this period from a modest increase in personal consumption spending.

Ethiopia’s annual income per capita (per person) in 2005-2009 increased to $255 (the average for the poorest African countries was $319) compared to only $124 in 2000-2004. The increase in per capita income continued after 2009. In 2008-2011, the per capita income was $320. However, in 2008-2011, the real income per capita (income after inflation based on year 2000 prices), which is used to measure standard of living, was only $131. In comparison, in pre-growth 1991-1994, real income per capita was $295.

Yet, the IMF report asserts that Ethiopia’s economic growth was accompanied by a significantly improved standard of living. Further, it says, “The proportion of people living below the poverty line of $1.25 a day has gone down from 60.5 percent in 1995 to 30.7 percent in 2011; and Ethiopia has outperformed many sub-Saharan African countries regarding poverty reduction.”

Ethiopia is rich potentially and can do better than a poverty line of $1.25 (birr24), which cannot even cover the daily cost of adequate food supply for one person, let alone a family of four. Astronomical prices of food staples and basic necessities have made life unbearable for the majority of Ethiopians. Teff flour costs birr18 a kilo, shiro birr25 per kilo, cooking oil birr45 a liter, butter birr180 a kilo, beef birr170 a kilo, one chicken birr180, and the list goes on.

The very low per capita income and declining living standard during the growth period were rooted in Ethiopia’s semi-famine, subsistence economy. Ethiopia’s production base was too small to feed a rapidly growing population. Ethiopia’s production per capita was half of Kenya’s, but Ethiopia was three times larger in surface area and labor force. South Africa’s agricultural productivity, thanks to commercial farming, was sixteen times higher than Ethiopia’s. During the so-called growth period, some 13 million people depended on some degree of food aid from the outside world. The worst manifestations of famine were avoided because of the generous assistances provided by the United States and others.

There was another tragedy of Ethiopia’s subsistence economy. The economy was too weak to respond favorably to repeated devaluations of the birr. In 1992, the government adopted the IMF program and devalued the birr by 59 percent against the US dollar. This was considered a necessary measure by the government and the IMF to make Ethiopia’s economy and prices competitive globally; and thereby, to improve the country’s trade deficit. The value of the birr has since been adjusted downward periodically. In September 2010, the Ethiopian National Bank devalued the birr by 17 percent, the third time it had done this in just a 14 month period.

However, Ethiopia’s undeveloped and rigid production capability was unable to take advantage of the challenges and opportunities that were presented by the devaluation of the birr. Consequently, there was not any noticeable improvement in domestic production and exports. The trade deficit continued to widen. In 1992-1996, the annual average deficit-to-GDP ratio was 7 percent and by 2006-2010, it increased to 19 per cent.

The devaluation of the birr simply resulted in runaway inflation, which made imports very expensive in terms of the domestic currency. In 2009 alone, Ethiopia’s inflation rate was 36.4 percent, the second highest in Africa, after Congo’s 39.2 percent.

The IMF devaluation program has a problem of its own. It views economic problems from the standpoint of an overvalued currency, which hampers export earnings and debt financing potential. When the IMF devaluation program began in Africa and Latin America in the 1980s, two-thirds of the countries in the two continents implemented the program. Between 1980 and 1985, the IMF lent about $4.6 billion to Sub-Saharan Africa to support the program. During this period, the African countries cut their imports by about 20 percent.

However, their current account deficits did not improve; it was $7 billion for 1980 and 1985, and worse for the intervening years. They continued to experience increasing poverty, declining standard of living and worsening current account deficit. After a painful experience with the IMF prescription, the late Prime Minister Michael Manley of Jamaica rightly concluded that the problem in poor countries is not the search for market for sophisticated wheat farmers, already capable of a high level of productivity, but how to get a simple peasant to become an efficient producer in the first place.

Currency devaluation works favorably in a market economy rather than in a subsistence economy. This is because a market economy, unlike a subsistence economy, has a large number of responsive entrepreneurs, local ownership of industry, sophisticated commercial farmers, large number of export commodities, a well-developed capital market, a mobile and highly educated labor force and an average income substantially above subsistence.

The IMF report says that an economic structure has evolved in Ethiopia, called a developmental state, “whereby the government leads development, state ownership is widespread in economic activities and the private sector is oriented to support the development goals of the government.” But, this is not a new idea. The so-called developmental state is the modern child of socialism.

Economic development cannot be based on other than the free market system. Economic development is inherent to the free market. In a free market system, the profit motive compels continuous technological advances and economic development. Socialism does not possess such internal mechanism of development. Only a transition to a free market economy and democracy will enable Ethiopia to achieve economic development and a cohesive society.

Ethiopia’s potential surplus for food and industrialization lies in earnings from its agricultural sector. Thus, the first task of the transition is to privatize land so that a market-based capitalization process of Ethiopia’s subsistence agriculture, which has been abandoned since 1975, can resume. The current government, however, is not going to willingly privatize land because this will diminish its power.

It is worthwhile to mention why Ethiopia, twenty-two years after the collapse of the Soviet system, has not privatized land and transitioned to a market economy and democracy. When the Soviet system collapsed in 1991, Ethiopia was still a Marxist-Leninist state. But, unlike in Eastern Europe, an alliance of anti-capitalist, powerful secessionist forces emerged in Ethiopia from its Marxist-Leninist state, unchecked by a democratic alliance. As a result, the opportunity to embark on a genuine transition to a free market economy and democracy escaped Ethiopia. Thus, what we are witnessing in Ethiopia today is the same anti-capitalist, command growth system, which continues to stifle the private sector and the economy through state ownership of the means of production and economic activities.

The IMF report overlooks the real issues of Ethiopian development, which deserve thorough investigation. It does not reflect a complete picture of poverty and standard of living in Ethiopia.


* The writer, Daniel Teferra, is Professor of Economics, Emeritus at Ferris State University, presently at UW-Whitewater, WI.

 

 

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