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Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, Wins Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize was, last week, awarded to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, one of Africa’s youngest leaders, for his efforts in human rights reforms in the country, and for signing a peace deal with Eritrea following protracted hostility between the east African nations. The award will be bestowed in December this year.

Responding to the announcement, Amnesty International’s secretary-general Kumi Naidoo said: “This award recognizes the critical work Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has done to initiate human rights reforms in Ethiopia after decades of widespread repression.

“Since assuming office in April 2018, it has reformed the security forces, replaced the severely restricting charities and society law, and agreed a peace deal with neighboring Eritrea to end two decades of hostile relations. He also helped broker an agreement between Sudan’s military leaders and the civilian opposition, bringing an end to months of protests.

“However, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s work is far from done. This award should push and motivate him to tackle the outstanding human rights challenges that threaten to reverse the gains made so far. He must urgently ensure that his government addresses the ongoing ethnic tensions that threaten instability and further human rights abuses. He should also ensure that his government revises the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation which continues to be used as a tool of repression, and holds suspected perpetrators of past human rights violations to account.

“Now more than ever Prime Minister Abiy must fully espouse the principles and values of the Nobel Peace Prize to leave a lasting human rights legacy for his country, the wider region, and the world.”

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

 

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Ethiopia Unveils Blueprint to Drive Economic Growth

The government of Ethiopia has unveiled what it describes as a “Homegrown Economic Reform” agenda aimed at unlocking the country’s development potential.

“Several months in the making and spearheaded by some of Ethiopia’s finest minds, our initiative aims to propel Ethiopia into becoming the African icon of prosperity by 2030,” said Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia.

He made the remarks during an event to unveil the Reform Agenda at the United Nations Conference Centre in Addis Ababa.

The Agenda outlines macroeconomic, structural and sectoral reforms that will pave the way for job creation, poverty reduction, and inclusive growth.

The P.M. said “in just over one year,” his government has taken a series of measures to shift the economic landscape of Ethiopia, such as reforms in investment laws and business climate, which have helped remove regulatory obstacles that hamper investment.

Mr. Ahmed stated that the private sector was crucial for the next chapter of Ethiopia’s growth and development. Consequently, he said, we have “opened up key economic activities to private investments,” adding that these measures will “surely be reflected in Ethiopia’s ease of doing business ranking.”

The P.M. pointed out that to ensure the success of the Agenda, “we are tightening our fiscal belts, strengthening our public sector finances, shedding our debts, and increasing domestic resource mobilization.”

The Agenda prioritizes sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, mining, tourism, and ICT.

Reflecting on the Reform Agenda, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) said Ethiopia’s aspiration to grow from 865 to 2219 GDP per capita was “very ambitious” but that it was doable, citing the success stories of China, Laos, and Vietnam.

Ms. Songwe cautioned, however, that Ethiopia currently has a USD 10 billion gap – 6 billion in new investment and 4 billion of debt reduction per year – that must be bridged in order to achieve its reform aspirations.

“If you continue to accumulate debt the way you’re doing now, you will likely fall into debt distress in the next two years and a lot of the structural reforms you’ve put in place will not bring in the private sector because you will not be a credit-worthy country.”

Ms. Songwe said credibility is what the private sector will be looking for in the reform package. She recommended paving the way for IPPs in a reformed energy sector as a quick-win that can demonstrate the country’s credibility.

The event was attended by representatives from the World Bank, IMF, UN Agencies and other development partners. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed urged all stakeholders to “support us in crafting Ethiopia’s economic miracle.”

He said, “We realize that our interdependence solidifies Ethiopia’s geopolitical importance in becoming Africa’s gateway to the global market.”

The Reform Agenda was presented by Ethiopia’s minister of state for finance, Eyob Tekalign.

 

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Prime Minister: Ethiopia Has No Option But Multi-party Democracy

Ethiopia has “no option” but to pursue multi-party democracy, the country’s reformist new prime minister said Sunday, again shaking up Africa’s second most populous nation that for decades has been ruled by a single coalition.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s chief of staff announced the remarks on Twitter, saying they were made during a meeting with leaders of more than 50 national and regional parties, including ones from overseas, who demanded reforms in election law.

A multiparty democracy would need strong institutions that respect human rights and rule of law, Abiy said, according to his chief of staff.

The 42-year-old prime minister has announced sweeping reforms since taking office in April, including the release of opposition figures from prison and the embrace of a peace deal that led to the surprising restoration of diplomatic ties this month with longtime rival Eritrea.

Just months ago Ethiopia, a nation of more than 100 million people, faced widespread anti-government protests demanding wider freedoms, with the U.N. human rights chief and others expressing concern over hundreds of reported deaths and tens of thousands of people detained.

Ethiopia’s ruling coalition, which has been in power since 1991 and along with affiliated parties holds every seat in parliament, came up with Abiy after former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn stepped aside early this year. Abiy notably doesn’t come from the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, a party in the ruling coalition that has been the dominant force in government for most of the past 27 years.

Since taking office the new prime minister has surprised Ethiopians by acknowledging past torture by security forces, announcing the opening-up of the state-run economy and suggesting that his own position should have term limits.

 

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Sources: Associated Press via Voice of America [1]. Image sources: [1].

Ethiopian Government Ready to Sell Tech Stakes

Ethiopia will split its state-owned telecommunications company and sell stakes in the two new entities piecemeal to international operators, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said.
Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation, or EthioTelecom, has more than 60 million mobile and fixed-line subscribers, dominating a phone market that has long been coveted by MTN Group and Vodacom Group, Africa’s biggest wireless operators by sales and value respectively.

“Certain amounts of shares will be sold gradually in 10, 20, 30 years,” Abiy told lawmakers in the capital, Addis Ababa, on Monday.

“We are not giving it up in one go, it is not possible.”

Ethiopians will be offered 5 percent in the new companies, and between 30 percent and 40 percent will be sold to telecommunications operators that are top-10 players globally.

There’ll be at least a year or two of “intensive study,” Abiy said in televised comments.

Abiy, who took office two months ago, is speeding up long-awaited market reforms, such as liberalising state companies and reducing the role of the military in the economy. Ethiopia’s output has expanded faster than any other in Africa over the past decade and is poised to grow by 8.5percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Ethiopians in the $80billion (R1.08trillion) economy apply for between 1000 and 1200 new SIM cards daily and keeping the company as a monopoly denies subscribers the benefit of competition and the nation much-needed income, Abiy said.

“Keeping it the way it is now is dangerous; transferring it like some other African countries can be disastrous too,” he said.

 

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Sources: IOL [1]. Image sources: [1].