Abiy’s reform agenda neither homegrown nor pathway to prosperity

3 Oct

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

by Zinabu Samaro (PhD)

The economic reform plan the government unveiled recently shares an eerie resemblance to the infamous and disastrous reform package known as structural adjustment programmes (SAPs), argues Zinabu Samaro (PhD) (zinabu.samaro@gmail.com) a development economist whose research has appeared in peer-reviewed academic journals such as Cambridge Journal of Economics and Structural Change and Economic Dynamics.

“The plan looks like a repackaged and rebranded version of the debunked and disastrous neoliberal “Washington Consensus” agenda aimed mainly to attract foreign investment, credit and approval from the major donors and multilateral creditors and to temporarily relax the forex shortage on the import-hungry economy rather than to forge a path toward broad-based and sustainable prosperity.”

The administration of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) inherited an economy with many serious problems. These included high levels of unemployment, high rates of inflation, stagnant, declining export earnings and shortages of forex.

It is only natural that his administration took office with promises of economic reform alongside political reforms. However, it had been criticised for not issuing a comprehensive reform package – a road map outlining what the administration intends to do to address economic challenges.

For keen observers of economic ideology and policy, the direction of the economic reform was very clear from the outset based on the statements and priorities that were declared – even in the absence of an official road map. The road taken has been unmistakably neoliberal through and through.

Soon after taking office, major economic reforms were announced in areas that were previously considered “off limits” by the EPRDF regime including telecoms, electricity and banking, marking a landmark shift in the country’s development model. Terms and concepts such as “austerity,” “tightening the belt,” “living within one’s means,” “balancing the budget” and “managing macroeconomic imbalances” have been commonplace in the statements of the Prime Minister, his subordinates and advisors.

They are drawn from the dictionary of a right-wing economic ideology, which confuses the management of public finances with that of household finances. It justifies inequality in society as just and necessary. It readily sacrifices long-term economic prospects for short-term efficiency; glorifies the market and abhors the role of the state in the economy (unless the role is to promote and protect the interest of the haves against the have nots).  Most of all, it puts the interest of finance capital – particularly foreign capital – above the interest of everyone else.

The administration has announced details of its economic road map and baptised it as, “A Homegrown Economic Reform Agenda: A Pathway to Prosperity”. However, the reform agenda is neither homegrown nor a pathway to broad-based prosperity.

The reform plan shares an eerie resemblance to the infamous and disastrous reform packages known as structural adjustment programmes (SAP). These were neoliberal economic packages imposed in the early 1980s on most African countries by international economic institutions such as the World Bank and IMF and their Western backers as a precondition for lightening the weight of external debt and financial support to address economic malaises that were affecting the economies. The SAPs had five key components: fiscal austerity; liberalisation of external trade, investment and finance; deregulation; devaluation and privatisation of state-owned enterprises.

The consensus of critical literature on the impacts of SAP-induced reforms in Africa is that the most liberalised, “adjusted’’ and “reformed” economies ended up with economic stagnation, premature de-industrialisation and agricultural decline. Poverty, inequality and balance of payments problems got worse. The technological, productivity and skill-structure of the economies went backwards.

Like its Sub-Saharan African peers, the post-Dergue government of Ethiopia was also forced by circumstances to adopt a strong dose of SAP in the early 1990s imposed on it by the same global forces. The package contained the standard fare: trade liberalisation, devaluation of the Birr, privatisation of state-owned enterprises and deregulation of prices.

The privatisation initiative was extensive even if most of the state enterprises did not attract the interest of foreign investors. Where there have been strong and persistent external pushes and interest from foreign companies and governments is in the areas of finance and telecoms, which the EPRDF government had, until recently, considered strategic and reserved for government or the domestic private sector. Therefore, the current drive to liberalise these sectors for foreign competition is a thinly disguised attempt to complete the “reform” and “adjustment” programme that was initiated decades ago but stalled due to the resistance of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s administration. In this sense, the “new” economic reform package is not new. Nor is it homegrown.

Two features of the recently released economic reform package strengthen this argument. The first is the similarity of both the language and approach to that advocated by the World Bank and the IMF for many years. The World Bank has published numerous reports which acknowledge the past success of the Ethiopian government in achieving high rates of GDP growth and improvements in social sectors such as education and then go on to advocate more liberal, private sector-oriented models. The recently released economic reform package follows the same approach.

Secondly, the government and the US Embassy in Addis Abeba announced a flagship initiative aimed at supporting Ethiopia’s economic reform. Tellingly, the initiative is spearheaded by Ricardo Hausmann (Prof.) who was the leader of a right-wing team that designed and oversaw one of the most regressive and devastating economic reforms in Venezuela between 1989-1992.

The new reform plan laments that past economic success has not led to structural transformation. But it does not relate this to the unbalanced focus of the EPRDF government on social sectors like education at the expense of structural transformation, development of industry and other modern economic activities. Until a few years ago, modern urban economic activities and industry have been overshadowed by the obsessive focus of the EPRDF government on rural development, poverty reduction and global agendas such as the Millennium Development Goals, which treat symptoms of underdevelopment rather than its root causes.

When discussing the external debt of the country, the reform plan does not mention the fact that one-third of the debt consists of loans by the World Bank Group (IDA). This includes loans extended toward food security, the safety net and public sector reform programmes – programmes that are never meant to address issues of structural transformation and programmes that could have been easily financed by making use of “the power of the public purse” if necessary.

The reform plan glosses over some important issues to arrive at ideologically motivated conclusions. For instance, it is a well-known fact that episodes of high inflation in Ethiopia have been highly correlated with external factors like global petroleum price hikes and major currency devaluations. However, the plan resorts to simple average to gloss over the inflationary spikes to arrive at conclusions such as high inflation leading to real exchange rate appreciation which purportedly erodes competitiveness. This is the same overly simplistic and faulty economic logic that was used by the Ethiopian government when it devalued the Birr by 15pc in 2017 arguing that it would discourage imports and encourage exports thereby improving hard currency reserves of the country. Instead, it had a significant inflationary impact without achieving its goals, because the structure and trends of imports and exports have deep-rooted structural and technological determinants. There are no shortcuts via devaluation to achieve external competitiveness without addressing the structural and technological bottlenecks in the economy.

The plan’s underlying analysis of the perennial problem of forex shortages and external imbalances is shallow and misdiagnoses the problem. While it argues that high demand for imports and poor export performance resulted in large current account deficits and significant forex shortages, the plan does not delve into how rapid liberalisation of external trade in the early 1990s under the original liberal reform programme directly led to a rapid and persistent expansion of Ethiopia’s trade deficits, which have been amplified during episodes of rapid GDP growth.

The plan fails to consider the demand side of the forex equation. There is no discussion about what the hard-earned dollars are being spent on. A simple look at the import statistics would have shown how the economy has been throwing away precious forex left and right for non-essential products, which can be domestically substituted easily with a well-executed “carrot-and-stick” approach.

While it also jumps into an ideologically motivated conclusion that forex regulations are one of the constraints to doing business in the country, it does not look at why non-value adding businesses such as second-hand car importers have much easier access to forex, while value-adding and employment creating businesses such as factories face a dire shortage. For instance, it makes sense under the current Ethiopian context to propose strategies aimed at easing access to forex for the import of apple seedlings, which produce ten times the locally available varieties and easily available in Holland compared to those who import apple fruits from New Zealand and California. Instead, one of the proposals aimed at improving agricultural production in the current reform plan is to increase private sector investment in agricultural research and development, as if this is needed and relevant to the Ethiopian context.

It also fails to consider how and why the past focus of the government on micro-enterprises – an approach which has never worked anywhere in the world – has failed and fails to stress the need for shifting focus and resources toward small and medium local enterprises that have much better potential for growth, creation of employment and adding value.

A truly homegrown privatisation agenda would draw lessons from what went right and what went wrong in the previous efforts to privatise state-owned enterprises. For instance, it would assess why domestic consumption-oriented enterprises such as breweries attracted significant foreign investment while most others did not.

Instead of rushing to sell-off state monopolies such as Ethio telecom to foreign capital, a truly homegrown reform agenda would first assess the causes of any inefficiencies in such companies and try to address them. If the assessment concludes that private ownership and competition are the best way forward, the first reasonable proposal should have been to look at ways of privatisation to domestic investors and liberalisation of the telecom market for domestic competition rather than to a foreign one.

A truly homegrown economic reform agenda would also try to learn lessons from other countries that privatised public utilities such as electricity generation and distribution before rushing to partially or wholly sell off state utilities. Unless the plan is intentionally blind to evidence, recent years have witnessed a rising tide across the world against privatisation of public utilities and toward renationalisation.

Moreover, if the reform plan were truly meant to serve as a pathway to prosperity, it would have done an in-depth stocktaking exercise on the previous development models, approaches, strategies, policies and programmes of the EPRDF government.

The plan looks like a repackaged and rebranded version of the debunked and disastrous neoliberal “Washington Consensus” agenda aimed mainly to attract foreign investment, credit and approval from the major donors and multilateral creditors and to temporarily relax the forex shortage on the import-hungry economy rather than to forge a path toward broad-based and sustainable prosperity.

If it were to usher in long-term prosperity, the reform plan would have focused on addressing the obvious weaknesses, mistakes and shortcomings of the previous development models – such as Agricultural Development-led Industrialization and the so-called developmental state model. It would also prioritise addressing issues such as state capture, rampant corruption, an unholy union between state and party and destruction of meritocracy in public service and public enterprises.

 

/Addis Fortune

 

 

 

Indian identity is forged in diversity. Every one of us is in a minority

2 Oct

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

by Shashi Tharoor*

When India celebrated the 49th anniversary of its independence from British rule in 1996, its then prime minister, HD Deve Gowda, stood at the ramparts of Delhi’s Red Fort and delivered the traditional independence day address to the nation. Eight other prime ministers had done exactly the same thing 48 times before him, but what was unusual this time was that Deve Gowda, a southerner from the state of Karnataka, spoke to the country in a language of which he did not know a word. Tradition and politics required a speech in Hindi, so he gave one – the words having been written out for him in his native Kannada script, in which they made no sense.

Such an episode is almost inconceivable elsewhere, but it was a startling affirmation of Indian pluralism. For the simple fact is that we are all minorities in India. There has never been an archetypal Indian to stand alongside the archetypal German or Frenchman. A Hindi-speaking Hindu male from Uttar Pradesh may cherish the illusion he represents the “majority community”. But he does not. As a Hindu, he belongs to the faith adhered to by four-fifths of the population. But a majority of the country does not speak Hindi. And, if he were visiting, say, my home state of Kerala, he may be surprised to realise that a majority there is not even male.

Worse, this stock Hindu male has only to mingle with the polyglot, multicoloured crowds – and I am referring not to the colours of their clothes but to the colours of their skins – thronging any of India’s major railway stations to realise how much of a minority he really is. Even his Hinduism is no guarantee of his majorityhood, because caste divisions automatically put him in a minority. (If he is a Brahmin, for instance, 90% of his fellow Indians are not.)

If caste and language complicate the notion of Indian identity, ethnicity makes it worse. Most of the time, an Indian’s name immediately reveals where he is from or what her mother-tongue is: when we introduce ourselves, we are advertising our origins. Despite some intermarriage at the elite levels in our cities, Indians are still largely endogamous, and a Bengali is easily distinguished from a Punjabi. The difference this reflects is often more apparent than the elements of commonality. A Karnataka Brahmin shares his Hindu faith with a Bihari Kurmi, but they share little identity with each other in respect of their dress, customs, appearance, taste, language or even, these days, their political objectives. At the same time, a Tamil Hindu would feel he has much more in common with a Tamil Christian or a Tamil Muslim than with, say, a Jat from the state of Haryana with whom he formally shares the Hindu religion.

What makes India, then, a nation? As the country celebrates the 60th anniversary of its independence today, we may well ask: What is an Indian’s identity When an Italian nation was created in the second half of the 19th century out of a mosaic of principalities and statelets, one Italian nationalist wrote: “We have created Italy. Now all we need to do is to create Italians.” It is striking that, a few decades later, no Indian nationalist succumbed to the temptation to express a similar thought. The prime exponent of modern Indian nationalism, Jawaharlal Nehru, would never have spoken of “creating Indians”, because he believed that India and Indians had existed for millennia before he articulated their political aspirations in the 20th century.

Nonetheless, the India that was born in 1947 was in a very real sense a new creation: a state that made fellow citizens of the Ladakhi and the Laccadivian, divided Punjabi from Punjabi and asked a Keralite peasant to feel allegiance to a Kashmiri Pandit ruling in Delhi, all for the first time.

So under Mahatma Gandhi and Prime Minister Nehru, Indian nationalism was not based on any of the conventional indices of national identity. Not language, since India’s constitution now recognises 22 official languages, and as many as 35 languages spoken by more than a million people each. Not ethnicity, since the “Indian” accommodates a diversity of racial types in which many Indians (Punjabis and Bengalis, in particular) have more ethnically in common with foreigners than with their other compatriots. Not religion, since India is a secular pluralist state that is home to every religion known to mankind, with the possible exception of Shintoism. Not geography, since the natural geography of the subcontinent – framed by the mountains and the sea – was hacked by the partition of 1947. And not even territory, since, by law, anyone with one grandparent born in pre-partition India – outside the territorial boundaries of today’s state – is eligible for citizenship. Indian nationalism has therefore always been the nationalism of an idea.

It is the idea of an ever-ever land – emerging from an ancient civilisation, united by a shared history, sustained by pluralist democracy. India’s democracy imposes no narrow conformities on its citizens. The whole point of Indian pluralism is you can be many things and one thing: you can be a good Muslim, a good Keralite and a good Indian all at once. The Indian idea is the opposite of what Freudians call “the narcissism of minor differences”; in India we celebrate the commonality of major differences. If America is a melting-pot, then to me India is a thali, a selection of sumptuous dishes in different bowls. Each tastes different, and does not necessarily mix with the next, but they belong together on the same plate, and they complement each other in making the meal a satisfying repast.

So the idea of India is of one land embracing many. It is the idea that a nation may endure differences of caste, creed, colour, conviction, culture, cuisine, costume and custom, and still rally around a consensus. And that consensus is around the simple idea that in a democracy you don’t really need to agree – except on the ground rules of how you will disagree.

Geography helps, because it accustoms Indians to the idea of difference. India’s national identity has long been built on the slogan “unity in diversity”. The “Indian” comes in such varieties that a woman who is fair-skinned, sari-wearing and Italian-speaking, as Sonia Gandhi is, is not more foreign to my grandmother in Kerala than one who is “wheatish-complexioned”, wears a salwar kameez and speaks Urdu. Our nation absorbs both these types of people; both are equally “foreign” to some of us, equally Indian to us all.

For now, the sectarian Hindu chauvinists have lost the battle over India’s identity. The sight in May 2004 of a Roman Catholic political leader (Sonia Gandhi) making way for a Sikh (Manmohan Singh) to be sworn in as prime minister by a Muslim (President Abdul Kalam) – in a country 81% Hindu – caught the world’s imagination. India’s founding fathers wrote a constitution for their dreams; we have given passports to their ideals. That one simple moment of political change put to rest many of the arguments over Indian identity. India was never truer to itself than when celebrating its own diversity.

 

  • Shashi Tharoor is the author of Nehru: The Invention of India, and former Undersecretary-General of the United Nations

/The Guardian

15 Aug 2007

 

 

Three-year monitoring identifies Ethiopia’s engagement in disinformation

30 Sep

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

After three years of monitoring states’ disinformation activities on the social media, the Oxford University has just published its peer-reviewed findings as The Global Disinformation Order: 2019 Global Inventory of Organised Social Media Manipulation.

In this 23-page report, Ethiopia is mentioned 14 times, in a pack of 69 others. It endeavors to explain the country’s disinformation activities, which innocuously is defined as attempt to influence the media and public thinking.

The report has gone under the hood to establish reasons why and for what purpose states use the social media. Its heaviest utilizers, mostly authoritarian states, are identified to have three reasons in making use of the social media:

a.  to suppress fundamental human rights;

b.  to discredit political opposition; and

c.  to drown out political dissent. :

The report sums up these activities by states—70 of them it has identified by name —that also are co-opting the available social media technologies, as follows:

“The co-option of social media technologies provides authoritarian regimes with a powerful tool to shape public discussions and spread propaganda online, while simultaneously surveilling, censoring, and restricting digital public spaces.”

Twitter and Facebook, according to the Oxford University’s monitoring report, are the prominent social media platforms of manipulation, followed by WhatsApp, YouTube and Instagram. As per the report, the Ethiopian regime is also said to solely rely on Facebook. On this, however, known to me too are government-hired twitter users in both Amharic and English.

In Africa, besides Ethiopia, Eritrea, Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda (mentioned only on Table 2 and 4), South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia and Zimbabwe engage in disinformation activities along with their communication strategies, according to the monitoring report.

Magnify

In respect of skills and knowledge diffusion, Ethiopia is categorized as engaging in ‘medium cyber troop capacity’.  What it means is that, its disinformation activities “involves teams that have a much more consistent form and strategy, involving full-time staff members who are employed year-round to control the information space. These medium-capacity teams often coordinate with multiple actor types, and experiment with a wide variety of tools and strategies for social media manipulation. Some medium-capacity teams conduct influence operations abroad.”

In other words, the Ethiopian government largely utilizes ‘cyber troops’ both at home and abroad, to supplement its utilization of government agencies in its efforts to leverage those benefits of the social media for purposes it has in mind—to shore up its politics. Two competing interests of the government in utilizing the social media are: (i) getting as many supporters, and (ii) discrediting its opponents.

In Ethiopia, the legal opposition and Ethiopian diaspora have for a long time been painted as either being mutually support interest group, sympathetic to the opposition, or outright enemies of ’the state’. After the 2018 change in the country, the opposition was no longer monolithic, nor totally in the opposition camp (who and whatever it is).

After the change in the country, however, as if on a graduating cylinder, both the state and the diaspora have started to see one another with growing suspicion. Beset by ongoing ethnic tensions and conflicts, no sooner than it came the Abiy Ahmed reform has begun to feel itself in the like of an abandoned ship on troubled sea.

Why not when, according to this latest report, the Abiy Administration “…using online and offline sources of data about users, and paying for advertisements on popular social media platforms, some cyber troops target specific communities with disinformation or manipulated media.” Even the TPLF out of power, its cadres, to name one, is found getting access on Forbes, as per Elias Meseret, to publicize Penresa in Ethiopia, what and for whom has not come out! Did he use the old way he knows, or there is telling us something we do not know? The usually well-informed Elias Meseret too asks who owns Penresa in Ethiopia?

Incidentally, I lean from an unofficial source, distributed in PDF around the world, the Abiy Admin has 2,210 paid social media troops. Of these, those ‘cyber troops’ abroad are paid monthly $1,000, while those at home receive through their bank accounts from birr 10,000 to 20,000, depending individual’s quality of service or effectiveness!

Regarding Ethiopia’s ‘cyber troops’, I recall writing on my blog The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO) about Yonatan Tesfaye’s imprisonment Part I, who was charged with terrorism crime in July 2017. I was trying to litigate whether it was the Ethiopian government that should be questioned and crucified, including owing to its use of China-trained cadres as its cyber troops’ on Facebook that were the backbone of the horror and subversion within our society.

That was my conclusion in the past. Nonetheless, it pains me to state here that it is likely to be my conclusion about the present too.

We now read between the lines of this Oxford University monitoring report since it covers full 2018, as shown in Fig 1, Ethiopia has already continued what the TPLF has started, with the result it being identified as one of the 70 states engaged in shaping the Global Disinformation Order. In those times—exactly as the report has put it—its purposes were undermining its internal opponents and drowning out political dissent within Ethiopia and the worldwide Ethiopian diaspora communities.

As history was being made in the country in the past year and a half, which encouraged citizens to think and believe the repressive system was being dismantled, to our shock and dismay, we are now learning the leaders of the change have anointed it to get slowly get going along the same discredited path. Take the number of people that are fast filling the prisons. Ask about those that are being apprehended and suffer beatings by police. The fact that this has been sanctioned to continue, i.e., has brought its own trap — disguise the revived serial violations of fundamental human rights of Ethiopians. This is painful.

In our own very eyes, terribly being flogged both openly and secretly are the trust between citizens and those we enthusiastically embraced as emergent forces of democracy. Unfortunately, they are seen allowing respect for fundamental human rights to be violated in unmistakeable ways.

Yesterday I noticed on the occasion of Demera, the faithful of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church being attacked by state agents and vigilantes they reportedly utilize from time to time, I felt there is sufficient reason to be preoccupied with in Ethiopia!

All I understand now is that the Abiy Administration has become reliant, among others, on its social media troops—China trained hired hands both at home and abroad—and cadres they have coopeted. Therefore, it goes without saying, no sooner than its arrival on the political scene, this young administration has chosen to throw away the affection and trust citizens have reposed on it —along the way endangering Ethiopia’s future.

Having seen what they have, the Oxford researchers’ conclusion rightly and wistfully underlines:

” Social media, which was once heralded as a force for freedom and democracy, has come under increasing scrutiny for its role in amplifying disinformation, inciting violence, and lowering levels of trust in media and democratic institutions.”

 

በትኩረት ሊታይ የሚገባው የጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር ዐብይ የመስቀል በዓል መልዕክት!

28 Sep

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

“ኢትዮጵያን ታላቅ፣ የበለጸገችና ለሁላችንም እንድትሆን ለማስቻል የያዝነው ዓላማ መሳካቱ የማይቀር እውነት ነው፡፡ ይህን ዕውነት የሚገዳደሩ ኃያላን ይኖራሉ፡፡

ለጊዜው ዝናራቸውን እስኪጨርሱ፣ ጉልበታቸውንም እስኪያፈሱ ድረስ ያሸነፉ ይመስላሉ፡፡ ድምፃቸው እንደ ነጎድጓድ፣ ጩኸታቸውም እንደ ብዙ ፏፏቴዎች የወል ጩኸት ጎልቶ ይሰማ ይሆናል፡፡ እውነታችንን የቀበሩት መስሏቸው ለጊዜው ይደሰታሉ፡፡”

 

አዲስ አበባ፣ መስከረም 16፣ 2012 (ኤፍ.ቢ.ሲ) ማን ያውቃል?

የመስቀል ወፍና የአደይ አበባ ቀጠሮ እንዳላቸው መስከረም ሲጠባ፡፡
ማን ያውቃል?

እንዲል ኢትዮጵያዊው ባለቅኔ – እኛና መስከረም፤ እኛና መስቀልም ዓመት ጠብቀን የምንገናኝ ተነፋፋቂ ባለ ቀጠሮ ነን፡፡

እናም ናፍቆታችንን እንወጣጣ- ፍቅራችንንም እንቀባበል ዘንድ ዓመት ጠብቀን አደባባይ እንወጣለን – ያኔ ደመራ ነው፡፡

የመስቀል በዓል በአደባባይ ከሚከበሩ የኢትዮጵያውያን በዓላት መካከል አንዱ ነው፡፡

ቀደምት አባቶቻችንና እናቶቻችን ይህንን ታላቅ በዓል በዐደባባይ እንድናከብረው ሥርዓት ሲሠሩ ያለ ምክንያት አልነበረም፡፡

ከበዓሉ ጋር የተያያዙ ሦስት ታላላቅ ሐሳቦችን ሁላችንም እንድንመራባቸው ፈልገው ሳይሆን አይቀርም፡፡

እውነትን ቀብሮ መኖር እንደማይቻል፤ ታሪክ የሚለወጠው በቆራጥነትና በአንድነት መሆኑን፣ አንድ ታላቅ ሐሣብ ኢትዮጵያውያንን እንዲጠቅም ከፈለግን ሐሣቡን ኢትዮጵያዊ ማድረግ እንዳለብን በዓሉ በደመራው ብርሃን ወገግ አድርጎ ያሳየናል፡፡

የክርስቶስን መስቀል የቀበሩት ሰዎች እውነትን ለዘለዓለም ቀብረው ማስቀረት የሚችሉ መስሏቸው ነበር፡፡

ለጊዜው መስቀሉ ከአፈር ሥር ሲቀበር ዓላማቸው የተሳካላቸው መስሏቸው ነበር፡፡

በመስቀሉ ላይ የቆሻሻ ክምር እንዲከመር ሲያደርጉ መስቀሉን ከታሪክ ገጽ ያጠፉት መስሏቸው ነበር፡፡

ይህ ግን የመሰላቸውን መስሎ መቆየት የቻለውና የዋሆችም መስቀሉ ተቀብሮ፣ ተረስቶ፣ ትቢያ ሆኖ ጠፍቷል ብለው እንዲረሱት ያስቻላቸው ዕሌኒ የምትባል ብርቱ እንስት ከተለየ ብርታት፣ ጽናትና የይቻላል መንፈስ ጋር እስክትከሠት ድረስ ብቻ ነበር፡፡

በየዘመናቱ እውነትን ለመቅበር የሞከሩ ነበሩ፡፡ በተንኮል፣ በሤራ፣ በግጭት፣ በክፍፍል፣ በጦርነት፣ በጉልበትና በኃይል እውነትን ለመቅበር ብዙዎች ሞክረዋል፡፡

እውነተኞችን በማጥፋትና በመግደል፣ በማሠርና በማስፈራራት እውነት የምትጠፋ መስሏቸው ብዙ ደክመዋል፡፡

መጻሕፍትን አቃጥለዋል፤ የዕውቀት ቦታዎችን አውድመዋል፡፡

እውነት ግን ብትቀጥንም አትበጠስም፡፡ እውነተኞችን በመግደልና በመቅበር በፍጹም እውነትን ማጥፋት አይቻልም፡፡ እውነትና ተስፋ አብረው የሚሄዱ ናቸው፡፡

እውነተኞች ተስፈኞች ናቸው፡፡

ውሸተኞች ጨለምተኞች ናቸው፡፡

ከእውነት ጋር ያልቆመ ሰው ተስፋ ሊኖረው አይችልም፡፡

ተስፋ እውነተኛ ሰው ብቻ የሚያደርገው መነጽር ነውና፡፡

ተስፋ ባለበት ሁሉ እውነት ትኖራለች — እውነት ባለችበትም እንዲሁ ተስፋ አለ፡፡

መስቀሉን የቀበሩት ሰዎች ሐሰተኞች ስለነበሩ ወደፊት የሚወጣ አልመሰላቸውም፡፡

የመስቀሉ ወዳጆች ግን እውነተኞች ስለነበሩ አንድ ቀን እንደሚገለጥ ያምኑ ነበር፡፡

ለዚህ ነው መስቀሉ የት እንደተቀበረ ከልጅ ልጅ በሚተላለፍ የቃል ትውፊት መረጃውን ለዘመናት አቆይተው ለመስቀሉ አስተርዕዮት ዘላለማዊ ገድል የፈጸሙት፡፡

ኢትዮጵያን ታላቅ፣ የበለጸገችና ለሁላችንም እንድትሆን ለማስቻል የያዝነው ዓላማ መሳካቱ የማይቀር ዕውነት ነው፡፡

ይህን ዕውነት የሚገዳደሩ ኃያላን ይኖራሉ፡፡

ለጊዜው ዝናራቸውን እስኪጨርሱ፣ ጉልበታቸውንም እስኪያፈሱ ድረስ ያሸነፉ ይመስላሉ፡፡ ድምፃቸው እንደ ነጎድጓድ፣ ጩኸታቸውም እንደ ብዙ ፏፏቴዎች የወል ጩኸት ጎልቶ ይሰማ ይሆናል፡፡ እውነታችንን የቀበሩት መስሏቸው ለጊዜው ይደሰታሉ፡፡

በዙሪያችን ያሉትም እውነታችን የተቀበረ መስሏቸው ተስፋ ይቆርጣሉ፡፡

ይህ ግን የእውነትን ባሕሪይ ካለመረዳት የሚመጣ ነው፡ ፡

እውነትን መገዳደር እንጂ ማሸነፍ፣ መቃወም እንጂ ማጥፋት ፈጽሞ አይቻልም፡፡

የብዙዎች ጩኸት- የሰነፎች ተረትና የአላዋቂዎች ትምክህት ዕውነትን ሊያጠፋት እንደማይችል በጽኑ እናምናለን፡፡

ዕውነት የተቀበረችበትን አመድ እንደ ፍግ እሳት አሙቃ እንደ ገሞራ ትፈነዳለች፤ የተሸፈነችበትን አቧራና የክፋት ቁልል ቅርፊቱን እንደሚሰብር ጫጩት ፈንቅላ ትነሣለች፡፡ ነገ ከእውነተኞች ጋር ናት፡፡

እውነተኞች ዛሬ ጥቂቶች ቢመስሉም ነገ እየበዙ ይሄዳሉ፤ ሐሳውያን ዛሬ ብዙዎች ቢመስሉም ነገ እንደ ስንቅ እያነሡ ይሄዳሉ፡ ፡

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እውነቱን ለመናገር፣ ሐሙስ ማምሻውን መስቀልን በበዓልነት የመጠበቅ ስሜቴ ደብዝዞ ነበር።

ለዚህም ዋነኛው ምክንያት ስለበዓሉ አከባበር ፌዴራል ፖሊስ ያወጣው ረጋጭና ደፍጣጭ መገለጫው ነው።

ውስጤ በአንድ በኩል ግርግር ይኖራል፣ የፎከረ መንግሥትም እንዳለፉት ወራት ወደ ማሠር ይሂዳል። ሌላው ሥጋቴ ባንዲራ ይዘው የወጡ እልኸኛ ወጣቶች ይገደላሉ የሚል ፍርሃት ነበር!

ይህም የሃገራችንን ፖለቲካ፡ ወደ ጉልበተኝነት —አሁንም እንደምናየው፣ እንደው እንደው እየሆነ ስለሆነ ከለውጡ ወዲህ በዜጎችና ለውጡን በሚራምዱት ወገኖች መካከል የተገባው ቃል ላልቶ—የዜጎችን ሰብዓዊ መብቶችን በምክንያታዊነት  መጣሱ ይባባሳል የሚል ፍራቻ ነው ውስጤን ሲገዘግዝ የነበረው!

በመሆኑም ከመተኛቴ በፊት ስሜቴንና ሃገራችን ያለችበትን ሁኔታ ያንጸባርቃል ያልኩትን ሐሙስ ማታ ባለሁበት በፊንላንድ አቆጣጠር 23 ሰዓት ላይ የሚከተለውን ትዊት አድርጌ ቀኔን ዘጋሁ።

 

የደመራ በዓል

እግዚአብሔር ይመሥገን እስካሁን ስማሁት —ከእሥር ውጭ— አንድም ዜጋ  የእምነቱን ምልክት ይዞ በመውጣቱ በፖሊስ አልተገደለም!

ለዚህም የሕዝቡን ጠንቃቃነትና ጨዋነት አደንቃለሁ!

ኢትዮጵያ እስካሁን ቁጥር ሥፍር ልጆቿን ገብራለችና በነዚያው ይብቃችሁ ይበለን! 

አርብ ወደምሽት አካባቢ ዉ ምን እያሉ ነው ብዬ ትዊተሮችን ስፈትሽ ይህንን 👇ተመለከትኩ!  

ዳዊት (አላውቀውም) ያለፈበት ሁኔታ በነበረኝ ስሜት ስቆቃውን ተካፈልኩት! መልዕክቱ ገጼ ሄዶ እንዲሠፍር አደረግሁት!

ከዚህ ባሻገር—በእኔ ዕይታ—የደመራ ምሽት ትልቁ ብርሃን ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር ዐቢይ አሕመድ ያስተላለፉት መልዕክት ይዘት ነው።

ከማን ጋር እንደሆነ ገሃድ ባያደርጉም፣ መንግሥታቸው ትልቅ ትንቅንቅ ውስጥ እንደሆነ ዛሬ ይፋ አድርገዋል።

 

አምነውበት ይሁን ወይንም ሕዝቡን ለማረጋጋት፡ ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትሩ እንዲህ ይላሉ፦

“ኢትዮጵያን ታላቅ፣ የበለጸገችና ለሁላችንም እንድትሆን ለማስቻል የያዝነው ዓላማ መሳካቱ የማይቀር እውነት ነው፡፡

ይህን እውነት የሚገዳደሩ ኃያላን ይኖራሉ፡፡

ለጊዜው ዝናራቸውን እስኪጨርሱ፣ ጉልበታቸውንም እስኪያፈሱ ድረስ ያሸነፉ ይመስላሉ፡፡ ድምፃቸው እንደ ነጎድጓድ፣ ጩኸታቸውም እንደ ብዙ ፏፏቴዎች የወል ጩኸት ጎልቶ ይሰማ ይሆናል፡፡ እውነታችንን የቀበሩት መስሏቸው ለጊዜው ይደሰታሉ፡፡”

በተለይም መንግሥታቸው ያጋጠሙትን ችግሮች በመደመር፡ እውነትና ትዕግሥት መወጣት እንደሚያስፈልግ ያሠምሩበታል።

ለመሆኑ እነማን ናቸው እነዚህ አደናቃፊዎቻቸው?

በመስቀሉ ፍለጋ የትርክታቸው ማዕከል ያደረጓት ንግሥት ዕሌኒን ነው። ዕሌኒ ጠላቶቿ ከዓላማዋ እንዳያዛቧት ኃይሏን በእነርሱ መዝቀጥ ላይ አለማባከኗን ነው። ለዚህም እንዲህ ያብራሩታል፦

“[ዕሌኒ] በዚያ የመስቀል ፍለጋ ጉዞዋ፣ ክርስቲያኖችንም፣ አይሁድንም፣ ሌላ እምነት ያምኑ የነበሩትንም አስተባብራለች፡፡

መንገዷ የጥበብ እንጂ የመጥበብ አልነበረም፡፡

ጉዞዋ ሁሉንም ለእውነት ለማንበርከክ እንጂ አንዱን ለሌላው ለማንበርከክ አልነበረም፡፡”

በኢትዮጵያ ፖለቲካ ኤኮኖሚ ውስጥ አስቸጋሪውና ገና ብዙ መፍታት የሚሻው የመደመር ትርጉም ነው! በፖለቲካም ሆነ በኤኮኖሚው መስክ የመደመር ችግር ምንም ተጨባጭ ነገር አለማበርከቱ ነው። ለምሣሌም ያህል በኤኮኖሚው በአሁኑ ወቅት ኢትዮጵያ ቅርሶቿን ወደ ግል ባለሃብቶች ለማሸጋገር ፈጣን ዝግጅት በምታደርግበት ወቅት፣ ምንድነው የመደመር ኤኮኖሚክ ፖሊሲ ምሪት? መልሱ የለኝም!

ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትሩም በዛሬው መልዕክታቸው፥ “አንዴ ከምዕራብ፣ ሌላ ጊዜ ከምሥራቅ አምጥተን፣ ምሥራቁንና ምዕራቡን ለመሆን ጥረን ነበር፡፡ እየቀዳን የምናመጣው ዘር ግን በኢትዮጵያ ምድር ሊያፈራ አልቻለም፡፡” ይላሉ!

መልሳው የሚወስዱን እንደሚከተለው ወደ መደመር ነው፦

“ከምዕራብም ከምሥራቅም አየን፤ በጎ በጎው ወሰድን፤ የራሳችንን ሐሳብ አዋለድን፤ ከኢትዮጵያ ባህልና ታሪክ፣ ፍላጎትና አቅም ጋር አዋህድን – ኢትዮጵያዊ የሆነ የመደመር መንገድንም ጀመርን፡፡”

በተጨባጩ እንደምናየው ከሆነ፡ ኢትዮቴሌን ለችርቻሮ የሚያበቃ አማካሪ ቡድን ኅዳር 1/2019 ለመቅጠር ማስታወቂያ አውጥተዋል!

ከዚህ ጽሁፍ በፊት ይህ ቅርሶቻችንን ግልጽ ባልሆነ መንገድ ለውጭም ሆነ ለሃገር ውስጥ ባለሃብት የሜተላለፉበት ሁኔታ ቢፈጠር፡ ሃገሪቱ ምን ያህል ተጠቃሚ ትሆናለች ለሚለው አወደ መደመር ጥጋቢ ማብራሪያና አቅጣጫ አይሠጥም። ለምሣሌ አርብ በገንዘብ ሚኒስቴር በተሠጠው መግለጫ ላይ አንድ ጥያቄ ስላለኝ በትዊተር እንደሚከተለው ይፋ አድርጌዋለሁ፦

እውነትን መያዝ፣ ትዕግሥትና ማቀፍ መልካም መርሆች ቢሆኑም፣ በአሁኑ ወቅት ሃገሪቱ በተጨባጭ በተለይም ኤኮኖሚክ ፖሊሲዋን መሬት የረገጠ ማድረግ ያስፈልጋል! ይህ በሚደረግበት ወቅት መደመርም በተጨባጭ መሠረት ላይ የሚያርፍበት ሁኔታ መፍጠር ያስፈልጋል!

 

 

ኢንተርኔት በሚቋረጥበት ሃገር የኢንተርኔት ነፃነት ጉባኤ?

26 Sep

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

(BBC News አማርኛ)  የኢንተርኔት ነፃነትን የተመለከተ ‘ፎረም ኦን ኢንተርኔት ፍሪደም ኢን አፍሪካ’ የተሰኘ አህጉራዊ ጉባኤ በአዲስ አበባ እየተካሄደ ነው። ከተለያዩ አገራት የተውጣጡ ተሳታፊዎች በመዲናዋ ተሰባስበው ጉባኤውን እየተካፈሉ ነው።

ለቀናት የኢንተርኔት አገልግሎት በሚዘጋበት አልያም በሚቆራረጥባት አገር፤ የኢንተርኔት ነፃነት ቀንን የማክበር ተቃርኖ ያልተዋጠላቸው ብዙዎች ናቸው።

በአንድ በኩል ጉባኤው ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ መካሄዱ፤ የኢንተርኔት አገልግሎት መቋረጥ የሚያሳድረው ተጽዕኖ ላይ ውይይት እንዲካሄድ መንገድ እንደሚጠርግ የሚያምኑ አካላት አሉ። በሌላ በኩል ደግሞ የኢንተርኔት አገልግሎትን በማቋረጥ የንግግር ነፃነት የሚገደብበት አገር ላይ ጉባኤው መካሄዱን የሚተቹም ብዙ ናቸው።

• የኢንተርኔቱን ባልቦላ ማን አጠፋው?

• በሞባይል ኢንተርኔት መቋረጥ የተገደቡ እንቅስቃሴዎች

• መንግሥት በምን የሕግ አግባብ ኢንተርኔት ይዘጋል?

ከወራት በፊት የሁለተኛ ደረጃ መልቀቂያ ፈተና እየተካሄደ ሳለ የኢንተርኔት አገልግሎት ተቋርጦ እንደነበር ይታወሳል። በአማራ ክልል “የመፈንቅለ መንግሥት” ሙከራ ተደርጓል መባሉን ተከትሎም ለቀናት ኢንተርኔት ተዘግቶ ነበር።

በመላው ዓለም የኢንተርኔት አገልግሎትን የሚቃኘው ‘ኔትብሎክስ’ ባወጣው መግለጫ፤ ኢትዮጵያ ኢንተርኔት ስታቋርጥ በየዕለቱ ወደ 4.5 ሚሊዮን ዶላር ገደማ እንደምትከስር አስታውቋል።

ጉባኤውን ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ ማዘጋጀት ለምን አስፈለገ?

ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ ኢንተርኔት ሲቋረጥ የሰብዓዊ መብት ተሟጋቾች፣ ጦማሪያን፣ የሕግ ባለሙያዎችና ሌሎችም መንግሥትን ይተቻሉ።

በብሔራዊ ደረጃ ከ15 በመቶ የማይዘለው የኢንተርኔት ዝርጋታ ሲቋረጥ ማኅበረሰቡም እሮሮ ማሰማቱ አይቀረም። ከኢትዮጵያ ውጪ ያሉ የመብት ተቆርቋሪዎች መንግሥትን ከሚነቅፉበት ምክንያት አንዱም የኢንተርኔት መቋረጥ ነው።

እነዚህን ነጥቦች በማስረጃነት በማንሳት ኮንፍረንሱን ለምን ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ ለማካሄድ እንደተወሰነ አዘጋጆችን ጠይቀን ነበር።

የ ‘ፎረም ኦን ኢንተርኔት ፍሪደም ኢን አፍሪካ’ የፕሮግራም ኃላፊ አስናህ ካልሜራ እንደሚሉት፤ ኢትዮጵያ የዜጎችን ኢንተርኔት የማግኘት መብት በመግፈፍ ከአፍሪካ ቀዳሚ አገር በመሆን ትታወቅ የነበረ ቢሆንም፤ ባለፈው አንድ ዓመት አንጻራዊ ለውጥ መጥቷል።

ተቀናቃኝ ፖለቲከኞች፣ የመብት ተሟጋቾችና ጦማሪያን ከእሥር መለቀቃቸው፣ ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ መረጃ እንዳያሰራጩ ተደርገው ከነበሩ ድረ-ገጾች ላይ እገዳው መነሳቱ እንዲሁም ለወራት ኢንተርኔት ተቋርጦባቸው የነበሩ አካባቢዎች አገልግሎቱን እንዲያገኙ መደረጉን ያጣቅሳሉ።

ሆኖም ግን ከ “መፈንቅለ መንግሥት” ሙከራው ጋር በተያያዘ ኢንተርኔት ተቋርጦ እንደነበርና ከዚሁ የ “መፈንቅለ መንግሥት” ሙከራ ጋር ይገናኛል በተባለ ክስ ጋዜጠኞችና የመብት ተሟጋቾች መታሠራቸውን ይናገራሉ።



“ቢሆንም ኢትዮጵያ ለለውጥ ቁርጠኛ አገር መሆኗን አይተናል። በኢንተርኔት ነፃነት ረገድና በሌችም ጉዳዮች ላይ ከሚሠሩ የመብት ተሟጋቾች ጋር በጋራ የመሥራት እንቅስቃሴም አስተውለናል” ሲሉ ያስረዳሉ።

ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ የታየው አንጻራዊ ለውጥ ለሌሎች የአፍሪካ አገሮች ተምሳሌት ቢሆንም፤ የኢንተርኔት ተደራሽነትን በማስፋትና መረጃ የማግኘት ነፃነትን በማክበር ረገድ ብዙ የሚቀሩ ነገሮች እንዳሉ ይናገራሉ።

የኢትዮጵያ መንግሥት የዜጎችን በኢንተርኔት መረጃ የማግኘት መብት እንዲያከብር የሚያሳስብ የጋራ ስምምነት ሰነድ ለመፈራረም መወጠናቸውንም አስናህ ለቢቢሲ ገልጸዋል።

የኢትዮጵያ መንግሥት ተወካዮች በሚገኙበት ኮንፍረንስ ስለ ዴሞክራሲ መስፈን እና የሰብአዊ መብት መከበር በመነጋገር፤ የመብት ተሟጋቾችን ደህንነት ለማስጠበቅ የሚያደርጉትን ጥረት እንደሚገፉበትም አክለዋል።

‘ፎረም ኦን ኢንተርኔት ፍሪደም ኢን አፍሪካ’ ከዚህ ቀደም በኡጋንዳ፣ በደቡብ አፍሪካ፣ በጋና እና ሌሎችም የአፍሪካ አገሮች ተካሂዷል። ኮንፍረሱ አፍሪካ ውስጥ የኢንተርኔት የመረጃ ስርጭት እንዳይገደብ እንዲሁም የመናገር ነፃነት እንዲከበር ንቅናቄ በማድረግ ይታወቃል።

ምሕረት ዩሃንስ
አጭር የምስል መግለጫምሕረት ዩሃንስ

የኢንተርኔት መቋረጥ በነጋዴዎች ላይ የሚያሳድረው ጫና

በመላው ዓለም የኢንተርኔት አገልግሎትን የሚቃኘው ‘ኔትብሎክስ’ እንደሚለው፤ ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ ኢንተርኔት ሲቋረጥ በየዕለቱ 4.5 ሚሊዮን ዶላር ገደማ ታጣለች።

የኢንተርኔት መቋረጥ በአገር ደረጃ የሚያደርሰውን ቀውስ በግል ከሚንቀሳቀሱ ነጋዴዎች አንጻር ለመመልከት ያነጋገርናት ምሕረት ዮሐንስ አዲስ አበባ ውስጥ ጉርድ ሾላ አካባቢ በሚገኝ የኢንተርኔት ካፌ ውስጥ ትሠራለች። ካፌው ሥራ ላይ በቆየባቸው ባለፉት ሁለት ዓመታት የኢንተርኔት አገልገሎት መቆራረጥና ሲከፋም ተዘግቶ መቆየት ፈተና እንደሆነባት ትናገራለች። በከፍተኛ ሁለተኛ ደረጃ ትምህርት የመልቀቂያ ፈተና ምክንያትም ሆነ ከተለያዩ ፖለቲካዊ ክስተቶች ጋር በተያያዘ የኢንተርኔት ግልጋሎት መቋረጥ ሲያጋጥም አብሮ የሚዘጋው ሥራችንም ነው ትላለች። በእነዚህ ጊዜያት “ሥራ የለም ማለት ይቻላል። እስኪከፈት ከመጠበቅ ውጭ ምንም ማድረግ የምንችለው ነገር የለም” ስትል ለቢቢሲ ታስረዳለች።”ኢንተርኔት ባይቆራረጥ፣ መዘጋቱ ቢቀር ጥሩ ነው” የምትለው ምሕረት የምትሠራበት ካፌ ከኢንተርኔት አገልግሎት ውጪ የጽሕፈት መሣሪያዎችን በጎን የሚሸጥ ሲሆን፤ ከእነዚሀ ሽያጮች በሚያገኘው ገቢ ወጪዎቹን ለመሽፈን ይጥራል። “እኛ ሌላ ሌላ ገቢ ስላለን ነው እንጅ [ኢንተርኔት በማስጠቀም] የምናገኘው ገቢ በጣም ዝቅ ያለ ነው” ትላለች።

• ኢትዮጵያ ኢንተርኔትን በመዝጋቷ ከ130 ሚሊዮን ዶላር በላይ አጣች

• ኢትዮቴሌኮም ኢንተርኔት ለምን እንደተቋረጠ መግለፅ እንደማይችል አስታወቀ የመደብር ኪራይን ከመሳሰሉ ወጪዎች በተጨማሪ ለኢንተርኔት አገልግሎት አቅራቢው ኢትዮ-ቴሌኮም መፈፀም ያለባቸው ክፍያዎች አገልግሎቱ በሚቋረጥባቸው ጊዜያትም እንደሚቀጥሉ ምሕረት ትናገራለች።”የምንከፍለው በወር ነው፤ አገልግሎቱ ቢኖርም ባይኖርም መክፈላችንን እንቀጥላለን” ትላለች ምሕረት ከቢቢሲ ጋር በነበራት

 

ተያያዥ ርዕሶች:

የመረጃ መረብ / ኢንተርኔት

አፍሪካ

ኢትዮጵያ

 

 

Ethiopian economy under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed: A hopeful trajectory or distant Dream?

26 Sep

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

(Summary of 20-page (Amharic) Wazema Radio’s assessment report of the Ethiopian economy under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed)

With his election as the chairperson of the ruling EPRDF, Abiy Ahmed (PhD) automatically became the Prime Minister of Ethiopia. He came to the throne as three years of widespread public protest, accompanied by two State of Emergency Declarations, pushed the ruling elite to look inward and undertake adjustment. One among the many promises of reform that Abiy made in his election was reforming the economy in a way that could create jobs for the youth, ensuring macro stability, reforming State-Owned Enterprises (SoEs), bring the private sector to the fore and opening key sectors of the economy for private investment.

And at the core of these promises lay the objectives of resolving the imbalances of the economy, increasing the inclusiveness of the economy and maintaining the growth momentum of the past 16 years.

In light of this, Abiy’s administration has spent the past year grappling with an economy that hosts serious structural as well as transitory challenges. In terms of actions, the administration has brought peace with Eritrea, opened the logistic sector for foreign investment, approved a Public Private Partnership (PPP) law, issued a law that reforms the telecom sector, embarked on massive Doing Business reform and has given Ethiopians living abroad a chance to engage in various investments previously out of their reach.

If one is to scrutinize Abiy’s first year in office, in light of structural and transient economic impediments, it could be concluded that the year was one with more talks, but less deeds. Abiy’s promises of restrained fiscal policy, for instance, has not materialized. What has been visible over the past year was that recurrent expenditure of the state has been increasing, new (formally unappraised) projects are coming to the scene, multiple events and ceremonies are being held and massive renovation of public offices (including the PMO) is going on. In this circumstance, it is puzzling where the budgetary restraint is going to come.

Although monetary stability is one of the areas of the prime minister’s promise, it has failed to achieve it during the last year. Meantime, the gap between the formal and parallel markets has moved to around 13 Br and inflation standing at 18%. The administrative measure taken by law enforcement on parallel market has pushed it to evolve to a decentralized function.

Ethiopia’s debt distress remains in the moderately high regime. Although the administration has managed to reschedule some outstanding debt payments, it did not bring fundamental change to the country’s ability to the debt management framework. Total debt stock remains increasing, although new additions are largely concessional. In this regard, the strain in the relationship with China is putting huge pressure on the administration.

With export remaining static, at around 2.8 billion dollars, and import continuing to increase, debt repayment has become a huge challenge for the administration. Nothing new has come in changing the performance of exports.

A major challenge for the administration, however, comes from massive youth unemployment. As such, the administration, except institutionalizing the problem under a newly formed Job Creation Commission, is yet to introduce a new jobs package with defined focus areas, operational mechanisms, business development support and financing backup. The trend is that of using the old, but largely inefficiency and confused, systems of organizing SMEs. Although the state still funds the Revolving Youth Fund, a dedicated financing window, the effectiveness of the fund is hugely challenged by poor administration, lack of business development support, inflexibility in list of businesses financed, mismatch between financing demand and supply, lag between approval and disbursement, and many more. Weak and infant private sector means that the job creation impact of the sector remains low.

In terms of industrialization too, the approach has been to attract as much FDI as possible. But many of the Industrial Parks, developed by use of financing obtained through Ethiopia’s debut Euro Bond, are still looking for investors. Total annual export of the Parks has stayed at $110 million, way lower than the $2 billon target. Although it is decided that the Parks will be privatized, the process and whether it is feasible is not yet clear.

The financial sector also remains stressed. The way forward for Development Bank of Ethiopia (DBE) is not clear, with its NPL standing at 33%. CBE also hosts huge state related liability, although its credit portfolio is not public. The private banks are well capitalized for the current market, but this does not mean that they can withstand competitive pressure from outside, if the sector is liberalized. As such, the guidance from the central bank in terms of creating competitive banks was no different than before.

In line with this, it is recommended that:

  1. The government ought to indicate clear policy lines to address structural challenges (such as lower productivity, static export, unemployment, low industrial growth, high trade deficit, expanding current account deficit, inflation, exchange rate depreciation….).
  2. Support to private sector ought to be aligned with the national job creation agenda.
  3. Suspicion between the federal and regional governments ought to be resolved as this hampers effective economic policy implementation.
  4. Expenditure saving fiscal policy ought to be the day-to-day norm in the state.
  5. Supply chains of basic consumables ought to be returned back to the private sector.
  6. Debt management policy ought to be reviewed
  7. Monetary policy ought to be disentangled from fiscal policy and it needed to get away from its long overdue deficit financing orientation.
  8. Job creation schemes ought to be integrated and so should the financing of SMEs.
  9. Relation with neighbors, particularly with Eritrea, ought to be based on principles and ought to be arranged in a way that avoids economic meddling.
  10. Overall market reform should precede privatization.

 

/Wazema

 

 

Ethiopia’s homegrown reform: Wrong Diagnosis may make it a wish list

25 Sep

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

by Prof Alemayehu Geda

The problem diagnosis used in the Homegrown Economic Reform Plan seems to be based more on the IMF’s templates than the reality on the ground, threatening to make it just a wish list instead of a solution argues Alemayehu Geda (PhD), professor of economics at Addis Abeba University and research associate at the University of London.

An economy has a structure if its institutions and the behaviour of economic agents entail a certain pattern of resource allocation which is different from others.

A closer examination of the “homegrown” economic policy reform shows that it does not look as homegrown as claimed, because it is strikingly similar to a typical IMF programme for reforming (read liberalising) developing countries and copied from such templates. It does not start with understanding the real economic problems at home. As a result, the review and diagnosis in the policy are based on such templates instead of the real issue on the ground.

For instance, the source of growth analysis is misleading, because it claims that the bulk of the source of growth had been capital accumulation (5.2pc out of the 10pc growth and efficiency follows at 2.6pc out of the 10pc growth). We know for a fact that the contribution of capital has been only 1.6pc, labour 2.4pc and technology/efficiency about 1pc. The government’s presentation shifted the statistical artefact embodied in the data called efficiency (TFP)/technology, which proper analysis of the official data would have shown to be 6.7pc, toward capital accumulation and efficiency/technology – the latter’s contribution even in advanced countries is about 2pc and in Ethiopia it is historically about 1pc and fluctuates with rainfall.

This wrong diagnosis led the government to a wrong area of focus in its policy. This is shown to be the majority in the list of efficiency-seeking policies envisaged in the document.

Also, the exaggerated GDP growth used will certainly give the wrong forecast of the government’s revenue collection ability and debt carrying capacity with implications for policy. I also think the level of saving is exaggerated and that of poverty understated. These and related facts on the ground and failure to take them on board in this policy document has a detrimental effect on envisaged targets, proposed policies and their realisation in the three years to come.

The fundamental sources of the macroeconomic problems of the country are missing. These problems are sectoral imbalances, which basically mean the planned growth was not related to the supply of food and the foreign exchange generating capacity of the economy, the dependence of growth financing on external debt and deficit financing or money printing, the inter-temporal mismatch between the medium-term planning (the GTAP) and annual budget and inter-Ministry long-term plans. The policy prescribes a solution without identifying these root causes of the problem.

The “structural and sectoral policies” of the reform and its conceptualisation and understanding of Ethiopian structural problems is significantly deficient. As a result, so are the policies proposed to address them. An economy has a structure if its institutions and the behaviour of economic agents entail a certain pattern of resource allocation that is different from others. Most African countries have such a unique structure which is also historically formed and hence economic performance is path-dependent. It is from such correct understanding of the economic structure the UN-ECA some three decades ago defined the structural problems of African countries in terms of deficiencies in basic economic and social infrastructure, research capability, technological know-how and human resource development, compounded by problems of socio-political organisation.

In such context, inflation, balance of payments deficits, a rising debt burden and the instability of exports, which were focused on in the World Bank/IMF’s view of the Africa problem in the 1980s, are taken by the ECA as resulting from a lack of structural transformation, as well as excessive dependence on the external sector. They noted such structural weaknesses in Africa’s productive base, the predominant subsistence/informal and exchange nature of the economy and its vulnerability to the external economy have all conspired to perpetuate the economic crisis. In my view, the Ethiopian economy today shows these structural features that need structural solutions. This understanding of structural problems is contrasted with the “homegrown” reform’s understanding of it.

Real Structural Problems in today’s Ethiopia are human capital deficiency; food sector deficiency; export-sector structural supply problems; structural import dependence problems; structural dependence on external finance; structural unemployment; the politics of inflation, distribution of income and poverty. Currently, general inflation sits at 18pc and food inflation is 23pc. These are structural problems that need policies to create a market, and a structural transformation needs state capacity.

In contrast, the following are the structural problems identified by the government’s reform policy: streamlining bureaucratic and regulatory procedures; improving governance of public institutions, improving power reliability and access through modernizing corporate governance and improving operational efficiency at EEU and EEP; restoring cost recovery through tariff reforms; implementing the telecom sector reform; creating secure and predictable market access to exports, including by expediting WTO accession and strengthening regional trade integration; undertaking logistics reform to enhance logistics efficiency and invest in logistics infrastructure; improving the efficiency of domestic markets, such as by removing barriers to entry, enforcing the competition law, and improving the efficiency of the commodity market supply chain.

These are policies to perfect an existing market that does not have structural problems such as those I defined.



Even assuming that the government’s understanding of structural problems is right, which is a heroic assumption, there is an inevitable contradiction and mismatch between the macro policy and structural and sectoral policies envisaged to address the problems, as well as the instruments of policy to be used for the purpose. To address the Ethiopian structural problems, three dynamically interrelated aspects of proposed solutions need to be considered. First, the operative forces (political, economic, scientific and technological, environmental, cultural and sociological); second, the available resources (human and natural resources, domestic saving and external financial resources); and third, the needs to be catered for (focusing on vital goods and services as opposed to luxuries and semi-luxuries). Such a framework is missing.

At a concrete level, the structural policy directions require taking several policy directions. First, improving production capacity and productivity, the mobilisation and efficient use of resources, human resource development, strengthening the scientific and technological base, and vertical and horizontal diversification. Secondly, improving the level and distribution of income, adopting a pragmatic balance between the public and private sectors, putting in place enabling conditions for sustainable development, particularly economic incentives and political stability, the shifting of non- productive resources, and improving income distribution among various groups. Finally, focusing on the required needs, particularly food self-sufficiency, reducing import and external finance dependence, the re-alignment of consumption and domestic production patterns. Almost all such structural policy directions are missing in the proposed policy framework. Key among these deficiencies is the human capital and professional expert base deficiency that the policy missed. However, the latter is a fundamental condition to carry out, implement and monitor such policy.

Notwithstanding the above, the proposed macroeconomic and financial sector policies also have some good features. Unfortunately, they are not many. These include some of the policies for the foreign exchange market, public finance management, including debt management, and the import substitution policies proposed. However, it is imperative to re-examine them in the context of the weakness that I have pointed out above and attempt to address some of the conflicting policy outcomes that may arise from the use of short-run macroeconomic and financial policies and long to medium-term structural policies.

For instance, one can see a contradiction between policies related to mobilisation of saving and low-cost finance for investment; contractionary monetary policy and keeping the momentum of growth; the 10-billion-dollar resource requirement and debt sustainability and external finance dependency; liberalisation and increasing competitiveness of infant industries, as well as state capacity to do all these and poverty reduction and privatisation of key strategic assets. Given such fundamental weakness, what should be done next?

The starting point is to re-examine the policy in light of its weaknesses as outlined here and take remedial action.

As a way forward, plan on how to address the sectoral imbalances between the targeted growth and food sector growth and foreign exchange (FX) generating capacity. In the short term, an increase in agricultural output with a small investment can be achieved through small irrigation development, fertiliser and high yield seed supply, and agrarian reform in the medium to the long run. Detailed sector or item targeted FX saving and generating capacity in the short run and manufactured goods exports development in collaboration with China and other development partners in the medium term. These are also key issues to address the macroeconomic imbalance problem in general and the inflation problem in particular. This needs to be complemented by streamlining of the basic goods supply chain and supplying such goods at regulated prices to urban dwellers through direct government distribution schemes targeting the poor by controlling the huge degree of monopoly merchants and middlemen have.

This economic reform plan will be a wish list without able experts and technocrats at core ministries. So, set up project analysis and evaluation offices across main ministries and staff them with at least ten high-caliber economists, engineers and IT professionals, in particular at the Ministries of Industry, Agriculture & Finance in the short run. In the medium to long run, create public sector technocrat schemes that pay better than the private sector and have a social premium that attracts the brightest that want to serve their country.  Set up a development projects analysis and monitoring department under the Planning Commission staffed with technocrats selected on merit to oversee all such departments at the ministries and improve its analytical capacity. Make a distinction between technocrats such as deputy ministers and political appointees such as minsters. The former being a professional picked on merit. Develop macro-econometric models with detailed monetary block in the Research Department of the NBE and with detailed fiscal block at the Planning Commission to be used for the budget process (learn from Kenya on both). These need to be complemented by long to medium-term perspective indicative planning and a growth model in the planning commission. A serious budget needs to be allocated to attract and maintain the best technocrats in a sustainable manner.

Avoid throwing all policy diagnosis and analysis to technical assistance that is coming from outside, staffed by people that do not have in-depth knowledge about the politics, economy and history of the country and are invariably informed by their county’s national interest. Use national socioeconomic research centres like the Ethiopian Economic Association and the economics departments of the country’s universities instead. The government needs to be in the driving seat to formulate and implement its policymaking for it to be genuinely homegrown. The technical assistance from groups such as the IMF, WB and Harvard from outside should be complementary and supportive – not the other way around as it is now.

Having put this in place, do a detailed diagnostic study in core ministries. In the long-run, this should be handled by a true technocrat Economic Council under the Prime Minister’s Office which would be recruited based on merit, not ideology, politics or the influence of international financial institutions. Hopefully, eventually, this will be made part of the constitution – S. Korea and the US are good examples of this.

Finally, plan on a sustainable financing strategy that includes how to transit from aid and external finance dependency in the coming five to ten years. This includes domestic resource mobilisation, leveraging remittance, focusing on foreign exchange generation through structural transformation by leveraging the existing engagement with and assistance from current partners both in the West and East, in particular China, India and South Africa

 

/Addis Fortune

 

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ምኁራንና መንግሥትን ባፋጨው ውይይት ፕራይቬታይዜሽን በሃገር ሉዓላዊነት ላይ ሥጋት ይደቅናል የሚል ሙግት ቀረበ!

 

 

 

ዐቢይ አሕመድ ዲፕሎማቶችን በስድብ ያጥረገረጉበት ዝጉ የቤተ መንግሥት ስብሰባ—ለታሪክ!

24 Sep

Posed by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

 

 

 

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