There is much debate these days on the political tensions of the country at the moment, if not many viable solutions. Within every debate though, there is the agreement that history, and how it is represented, plays a significant role as Habtamu Girma (firstname.lastname@example.org), a lecturer at Jigjiga University’s Department of Economics, points out.
In a country that has long been haunted by hollow political promises and reckless government spending, public outcry is perhaps not surprising. This though is just the manner of thinking, Sileshi Yilma Reta (email@example.com), who is interested in politics, media and communication, argues against. Such a culture of impunity has been inculcated to the point it has become trifling news to find that illegal transactions worth 20 billion Br were recorded by 158 public institutions in the past fiscal year.
Political crisis will lead to economic deterioration, and vice-versa. Just look at Venezuela! But there is still hope for Ethiopia. The multiple economic challenges, with the nation’s lack of hard currency as a prime example, and unrests around the country, could see their resolution if only more was done to invest in the youth, opines Solomon Debebe (firstname.lastname@example.org), who works as a youth and adolescent development specialist.
It has been 26 long years since the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), and their party ideology- Revolutionary Democracy, took over the country’s political scene. Somewhat unique in its methodology, while the line of thought has allowed a rapid economic growth, it has proved unsatisfactory to the people that are currently venting their discontent on the streets. Habtamu Girma (email@example.com), a lecturer at Jigjiga University’s Department of Economics, deliberates on the possible way forward if Revolutionary Democracy is to hold.
The World Bank Group’s 2018 annual Ease of Doing Business Ranking released two weeks ago shows that despite improvement on absolute term regulatory environment measurement by 2.08pc, Ethiopia has slipped by two ranks from yesteryear. Saron Lakew (firstname.lastname@example.org), an architect-planner with a management and consulting background, suspects that lack of comprehensive and diverse reforms is the culprit and that Ethiopia should take a page out of top reforming countries’ experiences if investments are to come its way.
Since the undoing of legacy media as the ultimate source of information, the idolisation of social media has been worrying to many. Responsibly sourced news has been made a pariah for the sake of sensationalist gossip. Abraham Negussie (email@example.com), a PR and communication officer at Awash Bank, believes that for all of social media’s advantages, irresponsible use of this new technology can create socio-political tensions.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is within humankind’s reach. Technology firms such as Apple, Google, Facebook and International Business Machine (IBM) are all racing to make what was once mere science fiction, a reality. But not everything that can be created should be, argues Neftalem Fikre (firstname.lastname@example.org), who has a background in international relations, ICT, sociology and behaviourism. AI distorts humankind’s intelligence in that it lacks empathy.
Times are changing. Transparency has now become an important feature of a government than at any time. With the rise of social media as the primary means of obtaining information, “alternative facts” are created to every incident the government prefers not to discuss. Sileshi Yilma Reta (email@example.com), whose interests run amok in the fields of politics, media and communication, believes that it is high time to do away with governance behind closed doors.
Migration out of impoverished or conflict-prone countries is anything but uncommon in the world. Despite the fact that close to 1.1 billion were lifted out of extreme poverty in the two decades since 1990, according to a report by the World Bank, the highest levels of displacement were recorded in 2016 by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Patrick Kormawa (PhD), a representative of the Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to the African Union and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), believes that migration will find its answer in rural development.
The National Bank of Ethiopia’s (NBE) decision to devalue the Birr has put the regulatory body in the spotlight. Many doubt that the measure would have a positive effect on export earnings and few deny that it would have an inflationary pressure. But Abis Getachew (firstname.lastname@example.org), an independent researcher with an MA in Economics, believes that with more policy actions that have a long-term objective the measure can be turned into a success.
For much of the Ethiopian public that largely consumes imported goods, the devaluation of the birr a couple of weeks ago, is indeed big news. but the national bank of Ethiopia (NBE) has also issued a number of measures during the same week; like the increase in deposit interest rates by a couple of percentage points to seven percent. The significance of this has merely been emphasised owing to the devaluation’s domination of media content but Abdulmenan Mohammed (email@example.com), a financial expert with 15 years of experience, believes that it is a move that deserves attention.
Ethiopia is not a Hermit kingdom. It is a country that, though limited, has an economic and political engagement throughout the world. And as the most populous and the largest economy in East Africa, its stability is considered significant to peace and security in the Horn. but as conflicts in the Middle East rage on and regional power struggles persist, Erwin van Veen (firstname.lastname@example.org), a senior research fellow at the netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael, argues it is necessary for Ethiopian foreign policy to take greater account of developments in the Arabian Peninsula.
The foreign exchange problem in Ethiopia is here to stay. This is mainly because of the high trade deficit is projected to grow until at least 2020, by the International Monetray Fund’s (IMF) estimation. Several antidotes have been prescribed, most famously the devaluation or the depreciation of the Birr, the latter by implementing a floating exchange rate regime. Abdulmenan Mohammed (email@example.com), a financial expert with 15 years of experience, believes that both would be foolhardy and that the answer lies elsewhere.
The Horn of Africa is a peninsula known for its large pastoralist population, an appropriate signifier of Ethiopia’s economy that is mostly propped up by the agriculture sector (and service). Although, the move has been mainly from agriculture, including pastoralism, to manufacturing, regarding developmental goals, the Somali Regional State has devised a plan to make sure the agro-pastoralist population plays a significant part in the evolution of the region. The strategy is all but a slam dunk for American-Ethiopian diaspora, Hafsa Mohamed executive director of Maandeeq Women’s Organization (MWO).
Discussing economic growth in general terms is easy. All one has to do is ask for more economic growth. But the nitty-gritty of macroeconomics demands that there be a source for development. In Ethiopia, poor saving culture and low tax mobilisation have been some of the major issues behind the government’s dependence on developmental loans and aid. Kennedy Abebe (firstname.lastname@example.org), an E-banking business development officer at Wegagen Bank, argues that without fixing the former, a sustainable double-digit growth will not be easy to come by.
Should the media follow the public’s whim when it comes to content creation or should it be the other way around? This is a predicament all media houses encounter at one time or another as budgeting becomes an issue. Catering to the public’s whims wins audiences, and hence advertisers, while originality drives them away. Sileshi Yilma (email@example.com) – a writer on politics, media and communication – believes that producers should instead buck the current trend, and strive to address issues that actively concern the country.
One indisputable feature of the banking industry has been that banks, no matter the volume in comparison to the foreign ones, are profitable. Capital, asset and profit are in most cases growing at a seemingly unstoppable upward slope. A writer with a solid background in finance and whose identity Fortune withheld upon request does not agree with the assessment though. Return on assets (ROE) and return on equity (ROE), based on unaudited reports, are actually declining, taking together with them the profit shareholders pocket, or earnings per share (EPS). These performance measures are critical if any bank hopes to raise funds from the public market.
The past two years have revealed that political stability in Ethiopia is far from certain, and precarious at best. One of the major signifiers was the protests in two of the most populous regions in the country, one of them being the Oromia Regional State. Getachew Tamiru (firstname.lastname@example.org), a journalist by training, believes that this region, which is the glue of Ethiopia, both metaphorically and literally, could be a major driving force behind the economic, societal and political issues that bog down the country if only the points he raises are realized.
The current party’s two-decade long experiment with the financial sector has resulted in the relative boom of private banks. The sector has been characterised with an impressive profit margin, but gaps are evident. As Ethiopia contemplates liberalising the industry, banks should brace themselves for the stiff competition ahead, opines Kennedy Abebe (email@example.com), an E-banking business development officer at Wegagen bank.
Advertising is no longer a small industry. As the number of TV stations grow, businesses are turning to expensive commercials with high-production value to draw customers to their product. Advertisers on their side are more profitable than ever. But in meeting this demand, Abraham Negussie (firstname.lastname@example.org) – a PR and communication officer at Awash Bank, who would like it known that this is his personal view – believes that they have to carefully wade the waters between old and new means of advertisement.
The Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) made a splash when it was first established in 2008. The first of its kind in Ethiopia, the ECX focused on the agriculture sector, trading in commodities such as coffee, sesame, pea beans and mung beans. Just recently, it announced that it has transacted 1.17 billion Br worth of those very same goods in the first 23 days of August. The recent passing of Proclamation No. 1050/2017 on August 7, 2017, which envisaged significant changes to ECX, has prompted Eleni Z. Gabre-Madhin (PhD), founder and former chief executive officer of ECX, and currently chief happiness officer of blueMoon, Ethiopia’s first youth agribusiness incubator and seed investor, to break her silence over the commodities exchange.
The budget deficit in Ethiopia is not at all uncommon. The current administration, like the previous one, is biting more than it can chew. There are a number of mega projects taking place all around the country, which are projected to cost billions of dollars. But only a few of them can barely be financed without foreign involvement, and by the state’s own coffers. The government’s strategy to curb the deficit, by collecting more taxes, instead of modernising the tax regime, is a recipe for disaster argues Kennedy Abebe (email@example.com).
The abundance of arable land in Eastern Africa has not insured against the scarcity of food in the continent. This is due to out-dated farming methods and the over-dependence on rainwater to grow crops. But government bodies, individuals and institutions such as the Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) could be of great help in bringing modern and reliable farming technics to the continent – according to Patrick Kormawa (PhD), FAO representative to the African Union.
Some nine years ago, Eleni Gabre-Medhin (PhD) founded the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX), which was the first of its kind in Ethiopia. The initiative was born out of the need to minimise the risk to small-holder farmers and to modernise trading in commodities. But while this is commendable, argues Esayas B. Gebre-Meskel (firstname.lastname@example.org), the ECX is stuck trading in agricultural commodities, like coffee or sesame, while it should work to diversify into different sectors.
The fifth year death anniversary of Meles Zenawi was roughly three week’s ago. In light of this, while state-owned media and supporters have been lobbying for the continuation of his policies and ideals, others have been asking for change. But, opines Habtamu Girma (email@example.com), a lecturer in the Department of Economics at Jigjiga University, it is important to understand the man before judging his leadership style or success.
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