Is the TPLF leading Ethiopia or still obssessed by its political longevity & consolidation of its domination?

7 Jan

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

When we read on the New Year’s Addis Fortune about the handsome deal Tekeste Sebhat Nega entered not long ago with Ethiopia’s Grain Trade Enterprise (EGTE), we said after all Firehiwot Guluma Tezera was right – and many other Ethiopians too before her.

Firehiwot wondered in her article of September 4, 2013 whether the TPLF still is in the business of running Ethiopia or in a business of shellacking it, i.e., eating it piece by piece or disposing it off to the highest bidder. Concerned by the negative implications of this, she observed:

    “As a ruling party, it not only owns strategic sectors of the economy and engages in commercial and trading activities, it also puts competing private sectors in a hopeless no-win situation. This preponderant economic dominance is also used as a political weapon to harass, incarcerate, dominate, weaken and control opposition forces in order to stay in power indefinitely.”

There is no mystery there; Ethiopians have known the TPLF well during these past quarter century. They have seen its fingers all over, especially squatting inside every cookie jar known to them and mercilessly fleecing everyone.

Sammy Arkebe Oqubay & Tekeste Sebhat Nega (Credit: Ethiopian Multimedia Gallery)

Sammy Arkebe Oqubay & Tekeste Sebhat Nega at their watering hall (Credit: Ethiopian Multimedia Gallery)

The son of TPLF founder and its first chairman Sebhat Nega, Tekeste Sebhat Nega is known as beneficiary of the education China has offered the children of TPLF leaders (see Addis Fortune). At the select Tsinghua University, usually reserved to sons of senior communist party leaders and the children of high-level foreign political allies, in July 2013 Tekeste told the BBC business program that he had studied engineering and after graduation had started business on the internet, iniitally focussing on Ethiopia and China.

He is one of the many political families on whom China has proffered its largesse of high-level education, the partial beneficiaries list of which includes Sammy Arkebe Oqubay, Daniel Hayelom Araya, etc.

Tekeste is rather given to aspiring to become rich as quickly as possible. Near graduation, he worked out business venture on the internet. For a short while, on one hand he ended up managing the business, while on the other also managing his friend Sammy Arkebe Oqubay, who became his partner.

Their enterprise did not see much light of day, although it has whetted bigger appetite.

Sammy is the son of former mayor of Addis Abeba and now “advisor” to the Man in the Prime Minister’s Office, who is rather known for his curtain-raiser role of facilitating land grab in Addis Abeba, along with his then chef de cabinet Dr Tekeste Abraham – now minister of state in the ministry of finance and economic development – leading the charge in doling out the nation’s and people’s property – land – to civilian and military leaders of the TPLF.

In the past three years, while wetting his feet in politics under the shadow of his father and other avuncular veterans, Tekeste has been biding his time for both his political time and in trying to satisfy his dream of success in business and eventually becoming successor to the ‘throne’, as one of the anointed children of the TPLF leaders to ensure the Front’s continuity.

Like father like son, as they say, Ato Sebhat Nega has rather been known as a dabbler on one hand between ‘humongous-frequency’ business ventures and interests and on the other politics that have made him one of the wealthiest and influential persons in the country.
 

Akili Creative Agency

Tekeste Sebhat Nega has established Akili Creative Agency, an ad agency, which is likely now to propel him into becoming multi-millionaire he has so much sought and possibly achieve in less than the life of the five-year contract he has signed with EGTE.
 

Ethiopian Grain Trade Enterprise was established as “Grain Board” in 1949. The TPLF re-organized it in 1999. It now says on its webpage, "The Enterprise has diversified its business to include Coffee export trade since 2009. Its head office is located in Addis Ababa and to expand its market coverage the Enterprise has 10 branch offices and 91 trade centers throughout the country." (Credit: EGTE)

Ethiopian Grain Trade Enterprise was established as “Grain Board” in 1949. The TPLF re-organized it in 1999. It now says on its webpage, “The The Enterprise has diversified its business to include Coffee export trade since 2009. Its head office is located in Addis Ababa and to expand its market coverage the Enterprise has 10 branch offices and 91 trade centers throughout the country.” (Credit: EGTE)

Addis Fortune on January 5, 2014 reported that EGTE would rent for five years its 4,000sqm area and the 43 silos to Akili Creative Agency, run by Tekeste for ETB 600,000 ($29,520.00 Jan 6, 2014 dollar rate).

The deal is reached with blessing and support by EGTE’s CEO, TPLF strongman Berhane Haile (family member to a couple of the leaders); he is rumoured to have transformed EGTE into means to siphon capital out of the country under the guise of import-export grain trades (exports of agricultural produces harvested within and the import of wheats and the like from abroad, allegedly to stabilize prices at home).

Quoting Etenesh Gebremichael, another TPLF member, who is manager of the public relation & trade information supportive process at the EGTE, Addis Fortune observes that several advertising companies that had approached the EGTE to rent the silos as an advertising platform did not succeed.

Not surprisingly, Etenesh tries to justify the awarding of the deal to Sebhat Nega’s son with the following words:

    “Akili’s proposal includes fencing the company and to change the area into green by cleaning the water that is accumulated inside the compound and that is damaging the silos in rust.’’

Nevertheless, one condition Tekeste has been asked to honor, according to Etenesh, is “not to mount liquors, tobacco and condom advertisements.”

Ethiopians did not need to wait five years to see whether this condition would be observed. As a matter of fact, Addis Fortune indicates that Tekeste had contacted East African Bottling, maker of Coca Cola; Diageo, which owns Meta Brewery; BGI Ethiopia, which makes St. George beer and Heineken, owner of Bedele Brewery. He invited them to mount their advertisements on the EGTE silos, enticing them with the advantages of the landscape and visibility from of their commercial from flying aircraft.

The companies refused; they cited the steep price Akili is charging as their reason. An official form one of the beverage companies, who declined to give detail of the price told Addis Fortune, “The price offered by the advertising company is a little bit too expensive when it is compared with the price of billboard’’.

Etenesh has said that the condition attached in the deal with Akili Creative Agency is “fencing the company and to change the area into green by cleaning the water that is accumulated inside the compound [threatening to] damage the silos in rust”; there is also the need for Akili to avoid commercials dealing with alcohol, condom and tobacco.

Ethiopians should notice that Akili would face two situations. One Akili’s price have been too exorbitant for the advertising companies and they may not use the space. Secondly, if the agreement is implemented as is, it would not allow the agency to mount alcohol, condom and tobacco commercials.

For those who know the TPLF, the signs are already evident that the agency could walk away without fulfilling its obligation to the nation about cleaning the silos and keeping them in good condition, alleging that it could not make money it had expected.

After all, Akili is chosen to benefit from this lucrative deal; it is owned by none other than one of the TPLF’s first families.

All said and done, the following questions should arise in the minds of Ethiopians:

    *   How safe is now the silo and the grains in there, since it is a store where food grains reserves of the nation are stored?

    *   Is anyone free to dabble with such strategic assets willy-nilly as is the case now?

    *   What resort do now those other ad agencies or companies that were unfairly rejected from the rental of the silos’ faces for commercial purposes have in being subjected in such open and discriminatory and nepotist practices of the TPLF regime?

*Updated.
 

Related article:

    Urban wheat economics & the unending EGTE’s fiducial role in it

    Ethiopia reviews growth plan: Claim of consistent poverty reduction in inflationary situation less convincing

    Ethiopia’s wheat conundrum

    Too Basic To Ignore: Scarcity & Spiralling Prices Bring An Industry To Its Knees – A Wheat Story

 

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