Tag Archives: Ethiopia

Ethiopia unblocks censored TV and websites

A senior Ethiopian official says the country has opened access to 264 blocked websites and TV broadcasters.

Fitsum Arega, who is the prime minister’s chief of staff, said in his tweet that “freedom of expression is a foundational right” and “essential for engaged and responsible” citizens. He added that “only a free market of ideas will lead to the truth”.

Among the broadcasters allowed back on air are the US-based Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) and Oromo Media Network (OMN). Both TV stations were charged in absentia for inciting violence and promoting terror, but the charges were dropped a few weeks ago.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in April with a pledge to open up the airwaves, even calling on foreign-based opposition TV broadcasters to open offices in Ethiopia.

Source: Morning Call


Ethiopia will soon introduce visa-free travel for all Africans

Ethiopia plans to open its borders so that all Africans can arrive without prior permission. Speaking at a state banquet held in honour of visiting Rwandan leader, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed revealed that Ethiopia would “ very soon ” follow Rwanda’s example. From 1 January this year, nationals of all countries received a visa on arrival at Kigali International Airport and all land borders. The visa problem

Fewer visa restrictions will lead to greater intra-African tourism which then boosts the economy of the host country.

“For countries who have either visa-free or visa-on-arrival policies you can see the positive impact on the number of visitors to those countries. Over time, you’ll also see it in the trade figures,” explains Acha Leke, a Director at McKinsey & Company and member of the WEF Global Agenda Council on Africa.

Ease of entry

According to the Visa Openness Index , it’s still easier for Americans to travel around Africa than it is for Africans themselves.

Africans still need visas to travel to 55% of other African countries, although visa openness levels have improved from 2015 levels on average.

Africans can get visas on arrival in just 25% of other countries and don’t need a visa at all to travel to just 20% of other countries on the continent. West African and East African states are leading the index, making up 75% of the top 20 most open countries. Only one North African country made the top 20 while none did from Central Africa. A way to resolve conflict? The increased opening of Africa’s borders encourages the free movement of people. This in turn helps to promote integration, boost economic and tourism growth, and help to resolve conflict. Having seamless borders is a key part of the African Union 2063 Agenda , whose aim is to build “a united and integrated Africa, with peaceful, open and prosperous borders”. The Union recently held the inaugural African Border Day , which helps draw attention to the prevention and resolution of border‐related disputes as well as to the promotion of regional and continental integration. Tourism ambitions Tourism will also benefit from less visa restrictions, and is an important factor for economic growth on the continent, contributing to 8.5% of GDP. Its growth is increasingly driven by Africans themselves. But further growth is hampered by poor connectivity of air transport, visa restrictions, currency convertibility and a lack of recognition in some countries of the value of African tourism.

At a recent gathering, tourism ministers called for an easing of restrictions to help boost the tourism trade. In Rwanda, the abolition of visa requirements for fellow members of the East African Community in 2011 helped increase intraregional tourist numbers from 283,000 in 2010, to 478,000 in 2013 .

“Africa still grapples with intra-continental movement issues, which hamper tourism growth. Our governments should liberalize tourism policies through regional cooperation on easing visa restrictions and implementing open sky policies, if we are to move a step ahead globally in terms of tourism prosperity,” said Tokozile Xasa, South Africa’s Minister of Tourism.

The easing of visa restrictions in both Ethiopia and Rwanda could be a first step in promoting greater tourism, and may well encourage other countries to follow suit.

SOURCE: World Economic Forum

By Alex Gray

Will Ethiopia be the next China?


© REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri Ethiopians at a political rally.

Ethiopia is embarking on a set of extremely ambitious liberal reforms. All of them sound wonderful on paper, but there are serious risks involved. You should care about what happens next — not just because of Ethiopia itself, but because Ethiopia is set to be a rising economic and geopolitical force in the world.

Ethiopia is led by an authoritarian regime under one-party rule. The prime minister is typically only a figurehead for a small group of party and military bigwigs who actually run the country behind the scenes. When I write “behind the scenes,” I mean it. Even country experts aren’t quite sure who exactly really runs the show.

Unrest is frequent, and often leads to casualties. When I was last in Ethiopia this year, a few days after a state of emergency was declared, the northern city of Gondar (where I was) was shut down because of a strike prompted by the arrest of an opposition leader. The man was eventually released, which I guess was a harbinger of things to come, leading to a spontaneous celebration march — which was promptly put down by military men riding into town in pickup trucks. The crowds dispersed quickly — as the locals explained, everybody knew that after the show of force would come the batons, and after the batons the guns.

But now Ethiopia is reforming, and the number and scope of the reforms are dizzying. The new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has announced the end of the state of emergency and the release of a large number of political prisoners and regime opponents. For good measure, the government has also announced that it will accept a peace settlement with Eritrea, its neighbor and enemy, as well as the privatization of a large number of government-owned monopolies. Suddenly the country’s journalists find themselves able to write what they want. As I said, dizzying.

Why the flurry of reform? Well, Ethiopia’s leaders have long had to manage a tricky balance. Ethiopia is on a rocketship trajectory of growth, clocking in at 10 percent year after year after year. Ethiopia’s rulers understand that too much oppression would be self-defeating, and they do not want a return to the days of civil war and crushing poverty.

At the same time, most development experts, chastened by too many examples to count, the most prominent being Iraq, have, rightly in my view, turned sour on the idea that instant democracy is a cure-all for poor countries. Functioning democracy is a political culture first and foremost, and not a ballot box, and in countries without an educated middle class, the ballot box tends to empower demagogues and kleptocrats — and foster ethnic strife, as people vote on ethnic lines for patronage since ideologies don’t mean much.

In Ethiopia, there is an ethnic undercurrent as well. The regime is dominated by the Tigrayans, who defeated the Derg, which the country’s Amhara, more numerous and historically the country’s rulers, resent. All of which means that if Ethiopia liberalizes too much, too fast, that might not be as good a thing as you might think — it might lead to chaos, and thence economic deprivation, or sectarian conflict.

Now, why does it all matter beyond Ethiopia?

Because, if Ethiopia manages to keep its act together, it could be one of the most important countries of the 21st century. Ethiopia has 100 million inhabitants and its economic growth is booming. Everything about Ethiopia is unique: It has its own language, Amharic, a Semitic language related to Arabic and Hebrew, written in its own script, Ge’ez, and a nearly unbroken history of organized rule dating back millennia. Ethiopia has been Christian longer than almost any European country, and its own variant of Christianity is enormously powerful spiritually and culturally. It also happens to have one of the world’s richest food cultures — and as a Frenchman, you can trust me on this.

This is all quite the contrast to many other African countries, whose borders were originally created by colonial powers as arbitrary lines and are, in the best cases, only now struggling to establish a cohesive and significant geopolitical identity of their own.

Ethiopia’s regime self-consciously models its development strategy on China, and it’s easy to see why. China is heir to one of the world’s richest civilizations and has every asset to be a major global player. That this didn’t happen for so long was the result of a sclerotic imperial regime, followed by a madman ruler, Mao, who did his very best to utterly destroy the country — as with the 20th century emperors and the Derg in Ethiopia. China’s halting rise to superpower status strikes us in the West as an unanticipated event, but it’s really a return to what should have been normalcy all along. (“When China awakens, the world’s foundations will shake,” Napoleon is said to have remarked, already in the day.)

Given the expected demographic decline of every region in the world except Africa, what happens in Africa will shape the future direction of the world, for good or bad. And within that, Ethiopia, with its size, strategic position in East Africa, and history, has all the assets to be a transformative country within a transformative continent.

That is, if its rulers manage to steer the ship of state. They have just banked the rudder hard in one direction. As with all large ships, we will only see the outcome some time from now.

By The Week

Ethiopia university protests over alleged rape

Many students at Ethiopia’s Mizan-Tepi University are protesting after allegations of an attempted rape on Sunday.

Two men allegedly went into the women’s bathroom and tried to rape a student, but her shouts raised the alarm and they fled.

The alleged incident has prompted angry demonstrations, which started on campus and have now spread to the town of Mizan Teferi, which is 500km (310 miles) from the capital, Addis Ababa, in the south-west of the country.

Students say there have been five recent incidents when female students have been allegedly raped or sexually abused.

“Everybody is protesting against this, regardless of gender and ethnicity,’’ a female student, who wanted to remain anonymous, told the BBC.

“Such cases have been happening for the past few months,” she said.

One of the reasons female students were preyed upon by sexual predators was because there was no tap water at the university, she said.

So they were forced to go to a forested area to fetch water from a river as early as 04:00, leaving them vulnerable to attack.

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US secretary of state to visit Nigeria next week

/ AFP PHOTO / Olivier Douliery.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attends a joint press conference between US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia, in the East Room of the White House in Washington DC on February 23, 2018.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will travel to Africa next week, the State department said Thursday, in his first visit to the continent since President Donald Trump entered office.

Tillerson will travel to “N’Djamena, Chad; Djibouti, Djibouti; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Nairobi, Kenya; and Abuja, Nigeria,” between March 6 and 13, department spokesperson Heather Nauert announced Thursday.

The visit follows a scandal which erupted when President Donald Trump allegedly branded African nations “shithole countries” in January.

Tillerson will meet with leaders in each country, along with African Union leadership based in Addis Ababa.

“He plans to discuss ways we can work with our partners to counter terrorism, advance peace and security, promote good governance, and spur mutually beneficial trade and investment,” Nauert added.

During a November meeting with African Union ministers in Washington, Tillerson outlined only general policy goals regarding the continent. Meanwhile, so far, Trump has shown little interest in Africa.

Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama traveled to Ghana six months after taking office with a message that Africa’s destiny is in the hands of its own people.

​UN Security Council Sweden, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, Bolivia elected to join group for 2017-18

Sweden , Kazakhstan, Ethiopia and Bolivia were elected to the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday for 2017-18, but further voting was due to take place to decide the final seat with

Italy and the Netherlands almost locked in a tie.

After three rounds of voting by the 193-member U.N. General Assembly, The Netherlands had 96 votes, while Italy had 94. Countries need more than two-thirds of the vote to win a seat.

The General Assembly elected Sweden with 134 votes in favor, Ethiopia with 185 and Bolivia with 183 in the first round of voting. Kazakhstan beat

Thailand with 138 votes in favor in the second round of voting.

The new members will replace Angola, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain and Venezuela on the council from Jan. 1, 2017.

The council is made up of 10 elected members – five voted on each year – and five permanent veto-powers who are the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia. The council is the only U.N. body that can make legally binding decisions.

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