Chicken, Egg Conundrum of Society, Gov’t

Is it an inward-looking and inflexible society that is giving way to bad leadership, or is it the other way around? Leaders, of course, have come and gone, while society gradually changed, to a certain extent, through the decades. Either way, it is only worthwhile to try a bottom-up approach, see if leaders are mere products of a society and if a finer version of the latter can result in a fitter government.

Reprieve Delay, Reprieve Deny

A decision by the EPRDF’s Central Committee sent both social media and the mainstream ones into overdrive. Ma’ekelawi, the infamous facility, is to be closed, and political party members held there are to be pardoned. For some, the decision proved too little too late, while for others, especially international observers, it was a welcome step forward. But since it is only a promise, there is still fear that it would not be met with action.

New Leadership to Better Grave Political Uncertainty

Leadership by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front that has lasted over a quarter of a century seems to have come at a crossroads. Promises and policy decisions do not seem to have borne any fruits as unrests weigh down the nation’s economic development. The lack of central leadership within the ranks and files of the ruling party are not helping either. It is perhaps time to bring to the fore the type of leadership that has a better understanding of the changes required.

Uncharted Waters of Ethiopian Politics

Democracy is that system of government which history found better suits society. But most African states – and some not – have lacked it even if leaders consistently promise that public officials are accountable to their constituents. Ethiopia’s situation does not fare better, and the last two years have not been particularly good to the country, where unrests across the nation have been consistent.

Fruits of Neighbourly Reconciliation

Almost a quarter-century has passed since the fateful referendum that led to the formation of Eritrea as a sovereign state separate from Ethiopia. There has not been much change in the leadership of the two East African nations in all those years though, and disputes over territories along the borders both share have not ceased. But the desire to see the governments, or at least the governed, of the two nations make a reconciliation do subsist.

The Imminent New Year

New Year of the Western world is around the corner, signalling that Gena, Ethiopia’s version of Christmas, is not far behind. But holidays, though merry everywhere, are celebrated far more differently here in Addis Abeba and Europe. Both will see a shopping spike, but of mostly different items. And while it will be warm in the capital of Ethiopia, most Western countries will experience negative temperatures.

Grow, Prosper, Electrifyingly

Electricity provision has never been an issue Ethiopia has been able to solve. And with the inclusion of more power consuming projects, like the Industrial Parks in different parts of the country, the problem is unlikely to abate soon. But in discussing the shortage of electricity, it is critical to note that there are those who have no access to it, to begin with. Rural electrification projects are just as essential to the country’s development goals, by way of improving domestic resource mobilisation and creating job opportunities, as most of the government’s economic agendas, if not more.

Eventful Great Run

The Great Ethiopian Run began in 2001 and is still going at full throttle. An initiative by Haile Gebrselassie, the most famous Ethiopian runner, if not the most famous Ethiopian, it is a sporting event whose participants have been growing together with the local and international attention it has been getting. Even the HuffPost rated it as one of the 15 most adventurous races in the world in a blog written two years ago. But the 2017 edition will go down in history for the tragic turn of events the race took where two people lost their lives.

Zimbabwe Minus Mugabe

military needs to be under civilian oversight to ensure the correct administration of power. This is a lesson Ethiopia has learnt the hard way. But it was different for Zimbabweans who were seen celebrating on the streets the downfall of their long-time president, Robert Mugabe, and cheering on the military that decided to take matters into its own hands. There will always be the fear that the fall of one dictator will give rise to another, but the bloodless coup d’etat and the constitutional machinations that were following to remove Mugabe of his post lawfully restore hope in a peaceful transfer of power. In the end, Mugabe gave in – better late than never.

Demographic Explosion

Despite slower economic growth than has been the case in the early years of the decade – and worsening political instability – Ethiopia’s population has been on an upward trajectory. From what was 74 million people just a decade ago, it is estimated that there are 100 million Ethiopians today. The population growth will be a challenge for the government on at least a couple of fronts. Economically, caring for an ever-increasing populace, in a country where demand has not been met to begin with, will be tricky. Politically, with tensions as they are, an increase in the number of youth, together with more globalisation and social media’s influence, governing will become complicated.

Lessons from Lake Tana

Lake Tana has an enemy, locally called Emboch, a type of weed that covered almost 2000ha of the lake by the end of the past fiscal year. It has been blocking the fishing grounds, reportedly resulting in a decline of fish production. Despite the fact that the river is located in the Amhara Regional State, it has not stopped the youth of neighbouring Oromia Regional State from joining the fight. The phenomenon could be taken as a perfect indicator of what needs to happen at a national level to make sure that the current political tensions in the country end. It was also a precursor to the meeting held between some of the leaders of the Oromia People’s Democratic Organisation (OPDO) and the Amhara National Democratic Front (ANDM) in Bahir Dar.

The Ethiopian State

Ethiopia is not starved for news at the moment, but few of them are positive. The past couple of months have been mired with unrests in at least two regions while a top-level corruption case into a number of ministries has nabbed many officials. Throw in a couple of senior government officials giving up their posts; then there is justifiable ground to speculate that there is something seriously wrong. It is not uncharacteristic to believe that all of these events are connected in some way. 

Valuation of an Ill-advised Devaluation

The National Bank of Ethiopia announced its bombshell decision almost a couple of weeks ago. The country’s currency will be 15pc less valuable than it has been most of the past fiscal year, selling close to 27 Br for every dollar. The devaluation has its supporters, like international financial institutions, and its detractors. While the government is hoping for higher export earnings, consumers are bracing for a rise in inflation. Only time will tell what the actual outcome would be but measures should be taken to ensure that the devaluation is for the better.

Reforest Like There’s No Tomorrow

More people have come to mean fewer trees. This is especially the case in areas where electricity has barely made it. People have to depend on burning wood for fuel. Aside from that, the population growth has necessitated the need for converting more areas into croplands. Subsequently, indigenous plants and trees have suffered and, worse, the environment is hurting. Reforestation, and providing homes with adequate power supply, even if expensive and time-consuming, is the only way out of the crisis.

Podium for Expression

When the Irreecha festivity took place last Sunday, there was the feeling that the state of Oromia would be thrown into another round of unrest, as was the case last year. But October 1 passed peacefully. Social media reports claimed that there were some issues, but nothing as distressing as that of the year before. It is essential to take note that the government has not done anything to solve the cause of the problem, which is the suppression of freedom of expression. The recent controversy over Teddy Afro’s 2017 album ‘Ethiopia’ is a testament to this.

Housing Projects: Keep Away from Children

One of the signature policies of the current government to provide citizens with housing are the middle and low-income condos currently flourishing around Addis Abeba. But while these houses could serve as cheaper alternatives for the general public, the level of quality that the buildings exhibit and the type of neighbourhood that follows once people enter their homes and populate the area is worrying. It is all the more alarming that children have to grow in these places.


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