Ethiopia’s vehicle motorization rate could not escape being simple exposé of nation’s poverty depth; ending TPLF dictatorship growing stronger!

11 Mar

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin – The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

Capitalism is a beast, with characteristic insensitivity. Beautiful as are beasts such as lions or tigers, so also has capitalism its qualities. Entrepreneurs work hard for profit to explore, innovate and flood the market with goods and services.

The first thing that I noticed Thursday morning, March 10/2016 on the PR Newswire was a report on Ethiopia’s tyre market and the opportunities thereon by 2020.

Surely, therein were two pieces of information that have aroused curiosity on the part of the writers. The researchers have noticed that Ethiopia has a huge population (99.4 million, UNFPA) and thus a big market with huge prospects in the foreseeable future.

Secondly, from the vantage point of their interests, however, the country’s vehicle motorization rate (for passenger cars and commercial vehicles), i.e., ownership, has been only 3 vehicles per 1,000 population for the past three years (from 2007 data), placing Ethiopia in league in Africa with Liberia and Somalia, while Eritrea flushes ownership of 11 vehicles per 1,000 population.

Similarly, Egypt in North Africa has 45 cars per 1,000 people, as Kenya in East Africa boasts of 21/1,000, both Tanzania and Uganda show ownership of 7 vehicles per 1,000 population. The global rate is reported to be 219.64 vehicles per 1,000 population.

To show the practical side of things, let me revert to a World Bank report that states more than 20,000 vehicles per day travel the 850 kilometer route from Addis Ababa to the port of Djibouti, TPLF-inflicted landlockedness rendering Djibouti as its main official interntional trade outlet.

That is makes it the busiest and most congested and accident-prone road in the country, already having won notoriety for its accident prone-driving corrupt-traffic enforcement and road conditions. To partially alleviate that problem, the Hawassa-Mojo 203km of road is designed at a cost of $370 million, financed by the World Bank, which at its completion would serve 4,000 vehicles per day.

These represent asset building activities, although to a large extent, the whole motorization is consumption the country ill-affords, even as they serve economic objectives, while also signifying relative economic strengths. In all this, unfortunately Ethiopia’s standing has troublingly been on the least significant side relative to the strength of its Sub-Saharan peers.

The PR Newswire originates its information from TechSci Research report, which has stunned its writers with awareness of how profoundly poor Ethiopia is and its infrastructures underdeveloped.

It is in that context that TechSci report states: “Ethiopia’s tire market is a replacement-driven market as all the vehicles are imported into the country due to absence of any automobile manufacturing facility in Ethiopia.”

And yet, capitalism’s virtue is its optimism; it put its stake in the future. For now, the tyre industry has chosen to target and capture the tyre replacement market, despite its recognition of the country’s low vehicle ownership rate.

The bet by hungry investors is to continue along this path until more robust growth picks and the sale and ownership of vehicles firms up in 5-10 years, hoping they would be the first to rake up the profits.

This had me thinking, and thus this article.

Poor Ethiopia and its uncertain prospects

Economists have different classifications of poverty (relative and absolute poverty), differing ways of measuring its depth (income inequality metrics such as the Gini coefficient) and varying degrees of addressing the problem, depending on their schools of thought.

These classifications have put marked differences in the American and European approaches: the EU settling down for relative poverty classification and since 1964 the United States preferring the absolute poverty approach, wherein food costs are assumed to claim a third of money income. In the end, both approaches have similarities as well as their respective critics.

At the same time, there are economists that insist on the view that poverty must be measured by non-monetary indicators. Such groups refer to the determination of how families and individuals meet their basic needs (daily food, shelter, etc), prominently focussing on state of health, education and life expectancy.

As usually is the case in such matters, society went back and forth on this until finally in 1990, when the UNDP published its first human development index (HDI), pioneered by a Pakistani economist Mahbub Ul Haq, and began serving as an international standard to gauge the overall state of national development in a nation.

For instance, my country Ethiopia in 2012 was ranked 174th out of 188 nations; in spite of the hullaballoo of over a decade old double-digit growths and propaganda by the state and its philantropist-cum-investor allies in health, education and life expectancy and GDP growths, in 2015 the state of Ethiopia’s human development indicator has kept on tap-dancing at the same point as 174th, again out of 188 states. Why is this? Why is there no reconciliation, at least, between the propaganda and the reality on the ground?

While I was closely following, with great fascination the HDI discussions as an active participant in New York at the United Nations, it is inevitable for me now to seek to refresh my memory for this article from the first HDI 1990 report about such problems and situations. My mind is still fresh regarding the optimism the end of the Cold War had brought into the discussion.

Sadly for countries such as Ethiopia, a prisoner of its own propaganda and the “you are an angel and democratic” ego massage of its hirers for a sheriff’s position, I have learned that even many learned people baptized in the importance of the HDI show preference to pay due respects in the case of Ethiopia by deliberately mistaking gross domestic product (GDP) growth for human development. It is a long distance from 1991 to the present to sincerely persuade us that the securitization of national development has not delivered ‘the beef’ to Ethiopians!

Who would expect, for instance, a learned individual would sink so low by his choice of silly propaganda, as did state minister of finance and economic development Dr. Abraham Tekeste, who in October 2014 appeared on the media and reported to the nation that Ethiopia’s GDP has reached birr 1.5 trillion? To be honest, I could not get my head around how big that was!

This was a time for that matter when the Ethiopian birr’s purchasing power was in one of its difficult moments as a managed currency – exchanged, not long at its recuperation from Ethiopia’s double-digit inflation, both headline and food inflation. Today, at a time when African currencies have suffered beaten by falling commodity prices, one Ethiopian birr in managed exchange rate is equivalent to €23.8, $21.3 and €30.5, etc., in the background even making allowances for Ethiopia’s self-inflicted problems of data integrity.

Leaving the numbers aside, it is important to go back to the first UNDP report on HDI from 1990, which rightly states:

    “The central message of this Human Development Report is that while growth in national production (GDP) is absolutely necessary to meet all essential human objectives, what is important is to study how this growth translates – or fails to translate into human development in various societies. Some societies have achieved high levels of human development at modest levels of per capita income. Other societies have failed to translate their comparatively high income levels and rapid economic growth into commensurate levels of human development. What were the policies that led to such results? In this line of enquiry lie promising seeds of a much better link between economic growth and human development, which is by no means automatic.”

That dream Ethiopians aspire and continue to aspire for their country has not as yet come to pass in terms of human development goals. This is an unmistakable affirmation that authoritarianism, no matter its horsepower strength, cannot deliver. Changing this simply requires people need to be made free to make their right and wrong decisions to become masters of their destiny. So far, the state has been treating them as infants in a nursery, under TPLF dictatorship!

It is because of this national failures in Ethiopia that resistance and rejection of the unwanted state tutelages has irreparably broken open. It has thus become today’s unyielding faultine that the UNDP in its Ethiopia National HDI report for 2015 has made clear the culprit is the TPLF’s non-inclusive growth.

It states that the regime’s “current intervention models have resulted in highly- differentiated community and household-level outcomes, thereby suggesting that growth has been unevenly distributed rather than inclusive.” Sense how cautious the language is

The experiments

For a long time now, modern nations have had some form of poverty lines. Societal welfare even as far back as in the days of Otto von Bismarck’s (1815-1898) Prussia. Like modern politicians, he played politics with economics to outsmart his socialist opponents that thus became the origin of a welfare policy, which earned him the support of the working class; an inherited in modern societies in places to counter the bruteness of poverty.

With that, nations one way or the other have been trying to determine what proportion of their populations are above and below the poverty line and what needed to be done next. They have thus been using it to determine through appropriate policies,a s they facilitate consistent growths as remedial measures to eliminate/eradicate poverty over the long-term; some of these proved effective and others have remained sort of palliatives served over the short-and-medium terms, accompanied by limited income benefits.

And yet, for various reasons, many in developing states typically fall into paralysis regarding welfare matters; they are compelled to close their eyes to the problem. Worse, there are those that could seldom find the courage or the time to do anything about it, even as society bifurcates and the horrendous distances between the poor and the tiny microscopic islands of affluence widen within their societies.

One of the advantages of the times we live in is thus, the fact that there is a better understanding of society as well as mechanisms to address poverty, so long as governments are free from being hijacked by power greedy monsters and sectarian ideologies, where accountability never existed and never exists.

In other words, the actions needed require commitment to the conviction that the role of the state is to serve and protect all and avail opportunities to all to improve the lives of everyone, without any distinction or preferences as to race, ethnicity, gender or religion.

States that are imbued with such convictions have as their goal(s) have shown within reasonable time that they are capable of qualitatively improving the lives of individuals and communities – not exclusively the members of a ‘tribal’ gang or clan, for instance, such as Ethiopia’s, where the state has failed very substantial population on this account.

Evidently, the wealth the mafiosi has amassed during this time – to any fathomable extent unlawful – has astronomically transformed the lives of the few. At the same time, it has left in the lurch the huge minority, without rights or recourse, to which now parts of Ethiopian society has started reacting with intense anger in all parts of the country, Oromia though for now is the volcano’s mouth.

In situations such as this, some governments believe that false propaganda barrage would ameliorate their situation. It is the case in parliament on March 10/2016, as usual, when the man in the prime minister’s office tried to mix half truths, denials and senseless bravado of threats presenting the regime’s six-month performance report.

Among others, he told the nation that efforts in improving governance have paid off. What the TPLF regime has done is to dismiss judges, department heads, ordinary low-level employees. It so became time to announce good governance is on track!

Unfortunately, the regime’s representative has not consulted what has been written by TPLF cadres on TPLF page on Aigaforum in Amharic under a title: ማገድና ማሰናበት እንባችንን አያብስም – literally: -“Dismissing all those people in the name of improving good governance would not dry up the nation’s tears!”

Where Ethiopians turn to for clue?

In their book Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty – a subject of the The New York Reiew of Books of June 7, 2012 – Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson compare two cities by the same name: Nogales of Arizona and Nogales Sonora, a Mexican city south of the border.

Book reviewer Jared Diamond has done justice to their book, giving at the outset both what is under investigation by the two researchers and the real evidence from comparative case study of the two cities in one powerful sentence, quoted from the book. It reads:

    “The reason that Nogales, Arizona, is much richer than Nogales, Sonora, is simple: it is because of the very different institutions on the two sides of the border, which create very different incentives for the inhabitants of Nogales, Arizona, versus Nogales, Sonora.”

Further, a typical characteristic of the two cities is laid out as follows:

    “The fence that divides the city of Nogales is part of a natural experiment in organizing human societies. North of the fence lies the American city of Nogales, Arizona; south of it lies the Mexican city of Nogales, Sonora. On the American side, average income and life expectancy are higher, crime and corruption are lower, health and roads are better, and elections are more democratic. Yet the geographic environment is identical on both sides of the fence, and the ethnic makeup of the human population is similar. The reasons for those differences between the two Nogaleses are the differences between the current political and economic institutions of the US and Mexico.”

Certainly, nothing beats the principle of rule of law, an alien concept to the TPLF, and the importance of good institutions, which jealously respect, guard and ensure implementation of their mandates.

Maj-Gen Abebe Teklehaymanot (Aigaforum)

Maj-Gen Abebe Teklehaymanot (Aigaforum)

Part of the TPLF’s problems in the governance of Ethiopia has been discussed by none other than Maj-Gen Abebe Teklehaymanot, former TPLF fighter, formerly chief of the Ethiopian Air Force, lawyer turned-dissident, in his October 2015 article (Amharic) ብልሹ አስተዳደር የዴሞክራሲ ምህዳርን በማስፋትና ቀጣይነት ባለው የዲሞክራሲ ተቋማት ግንባታ በወሳኝነት ይፈታል.

In this article, the general surely puts his fingers on the Front’s as well as the nation’s problems, which have thrown it into its dangerous problems of today. Not only that he censured the TPLF’s silencing and mistreatment of members of the opposition parties, he also made dire predictions regarding the 100 percent election thievery of May 2015, as follows:

“በርካታ ፖለቲካዊ ፍላጎቶች፤ መልስ እንሻለን የሚሉ የተለያዩ ጥያቄዎች ባሉበት አገር አንድ ግንባር (ኢህአዴግ) እና አጋሮቹ 100% መቀመጫውን መቆጣጠር እሚያሳየንነገር፤ አንድም ባጠቃላይ ፖለቲካዊ ስርዓቱ ላይ ችግር መኖሩን አልያም የምርጫ ስርዓቱ ችግር እንዳለበት ወይም ተግባራዊነት ላይ ችግር እንደነበረበት ነው፤ 100% እሚባል ውጤት አስቂኝ ግን ደግሞ አደገኛ ነው ፡፡ ይሄ ዉጤት አርቆ ለሚያስብ ሰው የአደጋ እንጂ የድል ምልክት ተደርጎ መቆጠር አይችልም። መሬት ላይ ያለዉን የተለያየ ፖለቲካዊ ፍላጎት እማያንፀባርቅ የምክር ቤት ሁኔታ የስጋት እንጂ የኩራት ምንጭ መሆን አይችልም።”


    “In a country where there are varied political interests and different questions are raised and seek answers, political control by single party EPRDF and its allies is either an indication of the political inadequacies the system suffers from, or it means the electoral process is riddled with problems. All the more, to announce an outcome of 100 percent electoral victory is sign of the imminent danger before the ruling party. For any thinking human being, this electoral outcome is about the pitfalls for the future, never a victory to be honored. Rather than a source of pride, it should viewed as sources of worry for the future.”

Furthermore, the TPLF general claims that, the problem with the TPLF is, it mounted governmental power straight from the bushes with its liberation movement organization and mentality. Without any transition, it has thus become government the responsibilities it could not shoulder. Therefore, he underlines, the TPLF has remained a liberation front even in government, not mechanism for governance of civil society, as Ethiopia is.

The second problem he identifies is the airtight unity between state and political party that has been imposed on the nation. This the World Bank too had in 2006 cautioned Ethiopia that was drenched in blood of opponents of electoral thievery. Inevitably this has deprived TPLF members of the ability to live as normal individuals and citizens of the nation. Instead, TPLF members are, as he clearly implies, people without any conscience and ability to use their ‘knowledge’ and commonsense to the benefits of society.

As it happens, as a matter of fact today Ethiopia is at the crossroads. The best solution out of this crisis is the TPLF opening its eyes and allowing Ethiopians to organize themselves in a way that allows them to improve their lives and enjoy the fruits of their hard work and develop themselves and their country along sensible paths of development and governance under democratic principles.

That not being the case, TPLF’s policies are founded on administration of fear and lies, because of which the nation’s human development has been along regressive path, as shown above, despite the building of many schools and higher institutions of learning, thereby becoming barren and fruitless. In consequence, poverty and societal frustrations are on the rise in Ethiopia, possibly endangering its stability and national unity.

This is no course to win consensual national development, which means the development of the human being that cannot be attained by rising buildings and road constructions, even there with no worth performance on which are millions of dollars stolen by the regime’s members!

As far as Ethiopia’s development, modeled after Otto von Bismarck’s Prussian welfare political experiment aimed at achieving TPLF’s legitimacy is not working. Its time is up and it must be tossed out with its authors and executioners!

The TPLF must realize that it has lost the entire Ethiopian people’s faith and confidence! Its Stalinism has become costly, and anachronistic for both rural and urban, young and old, male and female Ethiopians!

Its violence, which it has squeezed out its last drops out of the powers of the state to carry out the legal and physical violence has dried out!

It is good that the man in the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s Office in parliament yesterday March 10, 2016 chose to apologize. This may appear good gesture to foreigners. Nevertheless, for Ethiopians, the TPLF is simply a killing machine whose hands have been stained by blood. There is no nation in the world and in history, where and when officials slaughter citizens and get away with habitual apologies! The TPLF apologised several times in the past for many of its butcheries only to use it as license for more killings. Among its many machine-gunning of Ethiopians are:

    *   Massacre of university students in early 1990s in Addis Abeba through dictator Meles Zenawi

    *   Mowed down Hawassa residents demanding their rights

    *   Somali region bodies were piled one by one, about a hundred and Sweden started collecting evidence against the killers

    *   In 2005, about 200 election fraud protesters were shot, and dictator Meles Zenawi repeatedly apologized and yet stealing the voices of the people as the murders continues

    *   Gambella witnessed the worst land grab in Ethiopian history and the killing still continues in that part of the country and in many unnamed parts of Ethiopia!

Ethiopians are now saying No! To TPLF! No to poverty! No to deception! Not deaths and destructions! No to ethnic dictatorship!
*Title recast.

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