It is election time in Ethiopia. Political parties are doing all their best to obtain as many seats in the federal parliament and regional councils as possible. For the ruling EPRDF, the battle is all about maintaining the majority that it had for the past 23 years. But for the political opposition, the play is all about snatching the throne from the ruling party and forming a new government. As the campaigning period ingresses, DAWIT ENDESHAW, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, sits with representatives of the ruling EPRDF and three opposition parties to converse about their preparation for the election, their thoughts about the pre-election process and their prediction of the election results. In these exclusive interviews conducted separately, Beyene Petros (Prof.), chairman of MEDREK; Reday Halefom, head of Public Relations for the EPRDF; Yonathan Tesfaye, head of Public Relations for Semayawi Party; and Chane Kebede (PhD), president of the Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP), share their perspectives about various issues, not the last of which is their reflection on the conduct of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE).


Gabriel Schulze is the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Schulze Global Investments (SGI), a family-owned private equity firm with a focus on frontier markets. A pioneer in the…

INTERVIEW:The Contented Prime Minister

In one of his recent but rare press conferences, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn spoke of his frustration over the lack of development in troubled South Sudan, and the battle to…

Zemen Speaks!

Fortune’s Reporter Jamal Abdu had a correspondence with Zemen’s management in which the management answered questions regarding a variety of the Bank’s activities and future plans.

Japanese Aid : It’s All About Consistency

Japan has the third largest economy in the world with close to five trillion dollars in gross domestic product (GDP). It is also one of the top 10 countries in…

SAMUEL YIRGA A Pianist with Grand Vision

Samuel Yirga is a young rising Ethiopian pianist who graduated from Addis Abeba University’s (AAU) Yared Music School eight years ago. He gained international recognition through his tours and recording…


In as much as its research competence and financial contributions to the nation’s developmental efforts are highly recognized, even by its ardent critics, World Bank’s policy recommendations, which are often criticized by the incumbent government as ideologically driven, remain highly contentious. The Bank indeed remains one of the very controversial multilateral institutions in Ethiopia, as it is across the world. Depending on the person dispatched to Addis Abeba from headquarters on Washington’s 18th Street, country directors of the institution are often seen getting into loggerheads with the government due to their comments on the Ethiopian economic and political sphere, while others leave after having cozy relationship. Guang Z. Chen, a soft-spoken Chinese national who joined the Bank in 1997, have both types as his predecessors. A development economist with over 20 years of experience in development finance and infrastructure management, Chen took his post in 2011. It is under Chen’s leadership that the Bank managed to release its popular economic updates, a relatively new series of policy analysis documents, with the latest one focusing on Ethiopia’s exports, whose performance turned out to be a disappointment to the EPRDF-led government. In this exclusive interview with TAMRAT G. GIORGIS, MANAGING EDITOR, Chen has recommendations on how to turn the tide.

RISK MATTERS:Is Multilateralism the Way Out?

One of the five agencies of the World Bank Group, a multilateral financial institution, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), specialises in political risk insurance. With private investors becoming overly cautious in their investment decision in these days of global economic crisis and increasing political uncertainty, MIGA’s role is becoming more important with each day. With Africa being perceived as the last frontier of investment – typified by high returns – the Agency is seen increasing its presence on the continent. No wonder, then, that its senior executives take the time to discuss with governments on the continent about possible ways to enhance cooperation. It is with such a mission in mind that Michel Wormser, vice president and chief operations officer (COO) of the Agency came to Ethiopia last week. An experienced bureaucrat with over 36 years in the World Bank Group, Wormser became COO of MIGA in 2011. A French national, trained in both France and the US, Wormser is a cautious optimist. In this interview with TAMRAT G.GIORGIS, MANAGING EDITOR, Wormser discusses the institutions of Ethiopia and crosscutting issues, such as governance and human rights.

Judge Me By the Numbers

Despite being a source of pride for many within and outside Ethiopian Airlines, beneath the rosy picture lays tension. Many of its staff, from pilots to cabin crew and ground…

No Risk of High Inflation Next Year

The budget bill for the 2014/15 fiscal year was tabled to Parliament early last week. It will now receive legislators’ scrutiny before it becomes the law of the land. As…

THE POWER OF COMMUNITY: It’s Not About Dollars, But Ideas

John Agwunobi (PhD) is the chairman of the Board of Directors of the US African Development Foundation (USADF) – an independent public corporation in the federal government of the United…

Ekke Dekke

Nibret Gelaw, a rising film star currently performing in a weekly televised sitcom – “Betoch” – believes that art should inform and lead the audience, rather than the other way round. He is against what he calls monopolistic tendencies among some famous film artists, which he says have become an impediment for young and aspiring artists. Qualification, rather than connections to those higher up on the ladder should matter more in one’s chances of being recruited to act in a film, he argues.The young film star started venturing into theatre during his early teens. While growing up in a family with relatives from the countryside, Nibret was drawn more into the rural dialects and accents, often mimicking whenever he was alone. Winning admiration from family members, neighbours and friends, he went on mimicking and eventually acting before a small audience of family members and friends.
His passion for drama landed him at the top of a school art club where he organised enthusiastic students for drama. Nibret’s first public performance was in a radio drama series, which used to be aired every Saturday afternoon some 18 years back. He performed with the late Abreham Asmelash, both acting as individuals who only came to Addis Abeba recently and were trying to catch up with the urban way of life.
In this interview with BINYAM ALEMAYEHU, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, Nibret discusses issues relating to the character ‘Ekke Dekke’, a guard in the family sitcom Betoch, produced by the acting and advertising mogul, Tilahun Gugsa, which has endeared him to the public, to the point of being a household name.

SAMSUNG : Style Meets Function

Robert Ngeru, left, is vice president for Central and East Africa for Samsung. A graduate from the University of Sunderland, United Kingdom, he joined the company four years ago. He has worked as Chief Commercial Officer for the East Africa region, before getting promoted to his current post. Tadiwos Awol, right, on the other hand, is Samsung’s country Manager for Ethiopia. A graduate from Washington University, he has 14 years of experience in the Ethiopian market, working for giants such as Ethiopian Airlines and Coca Cola. The two executives sat with Mikia Merhatsidk, DEPUTY EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, to speak about the latest version of the Galaxy Smartphone their company has launched – dubbed GALAXY S5 – and related issues. Excerpts:

A Soft-Spoken Giant : Reduced Policy Demands Catalyse Turkey’s Ascent.

Osman R. Yavuzalp, the newly appointed Turkish Ambassador to Ethiopia, came from Ankara where he served for three years. He was the deputy director for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and international security. Before thathe was also the deputy director and department head.
A carrier diplomat, Yavuzalp believes that Turkey’s economic situation is improving and that the country would qualify to become a member of the European Union (EU) were it not for what he sees as the biased political views of some European countries.
Yavuzalp worked at the Turkish Foreign Ministry for 25 years. He joined the Ministry in 1989 at a time of tremendous changes in Europe and across the world, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and end of the Cold War.He served in Berlin, Brussels and various posts in Ankara.
The Ambassador stayed in Addis Abeba for four and a half months. He focused mainly on international security and NATO-related issues. He has been dealing with those issues for the past 12 years. He is also accredited to the African Union (AU)and met many ministers and officials.
In this interview with BINYAM ALEMAYEHU, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, Yavuzalp discussed issues ranging from Turkey’s delayed accession to the EU, Turkish investment in Ethiopia and labour productivity. Excerpts.

Healthline: It’s All About Resources

Tesfaye G. Kidan (PhD) is the chief of party (CoP) for the Private Health Sector Program (PHSP) – a USAID financed intervention that aims to ensure a supportive and sustainable policy environment for the private health sector and enhance both geographic and financial access to essential health service packages through the private sector. The US-educated chief is board certified in internal medicine, infectious diseases, clinical microbiology and epidemiology. Tesfaye got his first degree in Medicine from the American University of Beirut. He did his internship in Ethiopia. He then headed to Seattle, Washington, United States, to specialise in infectious disease research and training. He came back in 2004 to help start the free anti-HIV medication initiative, which was launched in 2005. In this interview with BINYAM ALEMAYEHU, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, Tesfaye discusses a range of issues related to the private health sector in Ethiopia. Excerpts:

Light Manufacturing: Is It Light to Realise?

Izumi Ohno (Prof.) and Kenichi Ohno (Prof.), of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS),led the 13th round of policy dialogue between Japan and Ethiopia in Addis Abeba, held from February 24 to February 27, 2014. The dialogue focused on Ethiopia’s industrialisation strategy and its desire to embrace light manufacturing.

The couple, who have been married for 20 years, believe that with the policy directions put forward by the incumbent government, Ethiopia can reach a stage where industrial growth is faster than agricultural growth, helping redundant labour move from rural areas to urban areas, where there will be manufacturing – as has been the case in Asia. For this to happen, however, they argue that Ethiopia must extricate itself from the current complicated business environment. Bureaucratic red-tape and a lack of coordination between the various governmental bodies must also be avoided, according to them.

Izumi Ohno is a graduate of economics and development policy from Princeton University, in New Jersey, United States. She, then, graduated in economics and international relations from Tsuda College in Tokyo, Japan.She has been a professor at the Development Forum Project of the GRIPS since January, 2002.

Kenichi Ohno (Prof.) has a Doctorate Degree in economics from Stanford University, United States. He has specialised in development economics, industrial policy, exchange rate management, financial integration and development policy regimes in East Asia. From 2003 to present, he has been research director at the Vietnam Development Forum based in Hanoi and Tokyo.

In this interview, with BINYAM ALEMAYEHU, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, Kenichi Ohno and Izumi Ohno discuss the overriding concerns of the dialogue, particularly focusing on the prospects of light manufacturing for Ethiopia’s structural transformation to industry.


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