Monday, September 24, 2007

Millennial Opportunities: Globalization and Millennial African Rennaissance: Fact or Fiction?

Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc for Peace and Prosperity-

Re: Millennial Opportunities: Globalization and Millennial African Renaissance- Fact or Fiction

As the Millennium is unfolding before us, a series of symposia, workshops and conferences are reviewing the past, assessing the present and forecasting the future.

The first article devotes a significant amount of space to current situations and their respective relevance with the future. It tends to be fairly hopeful about the future and short in critical analysis of the current challenges and their potential for a serious handicap in the future, unless some palpable changes are seen in infrastructure development and the creative engagement of the highly unemployed and unengaged youth. I could not help be critical with admiration of the face saving optimism of millennial well wishers, with whom I would like to be categorized. So, my questions is show me the money or the evidence to be exact and I will be a believer.

Justice and atonement before reconciliation!

I am delighted about the Jimma Reconciliation process. I wonder, if this is just a feel good exercise or is it real and is based on hard work among the contending parties or stakeholders involved. If my memory serves me right, The Jimma Massacre was never investigated and the real reason behind the genocide of the faithful within their church premises is not yet accounted for, at least not appropriately reported. There should be a thorough investigation and appropriate fair and just steps taken to ensure they are never repeated again.

Just stating a reconciliation is not enough! Who is reconciling with whom? There are people dead and the state should examine the situation and bring justice first and then you can talk about reconciliation with appropriate stakeholders following serious atonement.

The Economic Growth does not reflect the realities of the majority in abject poverty!

The economic growth is questionable. Very few millionaires/billionaires in just 12 years. How on earth did they make the money? Is this sustainable growth, can we be assured that the millionaires did not rob banks rather than making profit. How do we measure profitability in a country where it is under international aid and full scale donation? The most interesting aspect of this alleged growth is only few people become billionaires and millionaires. Imagine in a country of 80 million, thethe majority cannot even feed themselves. It just does not make sense. This requires serious research and examination.

I wish the professor proposes to undertake some serious research before he repeats what others tell him or what he has read from others report. I am sure he has seen some data which most of us have not seen. I do believe he and the Economic Association has to share it with the public, so that we can all sing Hallelujah and declare the modern miracle.

Professors can only read what is written, unless they come to Ethiopia and make primary or fundamental ground breaking research. Just reading what others have written only is not credible. I want to be a believer because this is great news. I love great news that can be corroborated. We need first class grounded research to share with us if there is growth, or this is just a reflection of IMF and World Bank Money dispersed every six months and distributed to few insiders or ready made millionaires.

The cursory review of the press shows unbelievable level of monopoly that declare if you cannot make it in Ethiopia, you cannot make it anywhere. This should generate a Gold Rush for Ethiopia and hope the Millennium will just do that. Risk assessment, SWOT (Strength and Weakness, Opportunity and Threat Analyses) is needed here. May be the Professor has done this and we should take his word as is.

Even during the time of the Emperor, one could not see such lop sided economics where the majority have nothing and few poppers have become billionaires and millionaires in just ten years. Ethiopia should be the only country where a popper peasant can come from the village with no education and become a millionaire in just ten years. It just does not make sense, unless this is a miracle, and I do believe in miracles when I see one. This means when the so called growth and wealth is being distributed to the masses and they become owners of their homes, lands and proprieties.

All the same, read below the Professors account and contemplate how he came to this conclusion. I want to be a believer, because for so long we have been looking for such magic and miracle to come to Ethiopia. May be the Lord has heard the Prayers and hard work of so many who have been working in silence.

The following two articles are worth reviewing and they are posted as they are for your review and potential inspiration to initiate similar symposia and workshops across different disciplines.

Article !; Towards a Real Renaissance!!
The Reporter (Addis Ababa)

22 September 2007
Posted to the web 24 September 2007

The celebrations that were held throughout Ethiopia to usher in the onset of our third millennium have created the positive spirit we hoped and expected them to do.

Release of prisoners with appropriate rehabilitation strategy?

The release of thousands of prisoners, the fact that the colorful celebrations passed off peacefully and everyone across the board enjoyed them, including invited African leaders, the salary increment to civil servants, the government's call for the new millennium to be Ethiopia's renaissance, etc all contributed their share in this regard.

But now it is incumbent upon all of us to strengthen this spirit. The question is, "can it be done?" The answer is "yes"; there are some indications pointing towards this fact.

The Jimma Massacre turned into a reconciliation?

The developments that recently took place in the town of Jimma are one concrete example. It is to be recalled that a year ago, there was a "religious" conflict in a locality around Jimma in which several people were killed. It was a puzzle then and still is now to many Ethiopians how such a conflict could arise in the first place. Even though its cause may be unknown, it was a horrifying incident that seared the nation's conscience. It is a welcome news that the situation is changing for the better.

The residents of Jimma have, on New Year's day, condemned all forms of religious and ethnic conflicts and vowed to act in unison as Ethiopians. This feeling is one instance of a renaissance.

The efforts under way by the elders who facilitated the release of the failed CUD leaders to mediate between the government and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) is another noteworthy example. The release of some OLF members from prison is a cause for optimism. We hope and indeed believe that the mediation will bear fruit. The possibility where only peaceful political struggle is conducted in Ethiopia also bodes well for Ethiopia's renaissance.

Currently, the construction of some five hydro-electric dams is under way; the construction of numerous roads and buildings is in the pipeline. Both the government and investors have pledged to register considerable growth and development in the next five years. This shows that a new chapter of Ethiopian renaissance is not that far off.

The Somalia fiasco cannot be resolved unless Asmara is dealt with properly

Although much is not being said about it, Ethiopia has demonstrated and is demonstrating, its solidarity with and friendship for the people of Somalia. The reconciliation effort is going on the right track. Though there might be some factions which desire to exercise total control, the rest of the people of Somalia have turned their attention towards growth and development.

Ethiopia has begun to gain the recognition of the UN and AU for the positive role it is playing in Somalia. This is why the Eritrean regime recently organized a group of persons categorized as terrorists by the UN as part of its plan to destabilize Ethiopia and Somalia.

Engaging the Horn leaders in critical common development agenda is critical

Apart from this, the arrival of the leaders of Djibouti, Sudan and Somalia to take part in the millennial celebration is indicative of the fact that a better democratic culture is taking root in the Horn of Africa as it affirms that the people of this region are united in purpose. This by itself is a further sign of the beginning of a spirit of renaissance.

Several of the roads in Addis Ababa have been dug up and at a result have resulted in traffic congestion. However, residents of the city are not bothered because they understand what it will look like once these roads are completed; they are taking the long view and not unduly troubled by short-term inconveniences. This affirms the existence of enthusiastic public support.

These favorable conditions make it vital that the government realize the particularly grave responsibilities it shoulders to ensure that the spirit of renaissance that has been created does not wane and eventually disappear. Therefore, it should make an all-out effort beginning now to prevent this from happening.

Now, the CUD prisoners showed their ability to outsource coup de etat! What happened to the conditional release?

Opposition politicians should also realize that the Ethiopian public closely scrutinizes and analyzes their actions and hence need to nurture and develop this spirit of renaissance; it has demonstrated to them that it wants an opposition that possessed a capable leadership, and a mature attitude of love and Ethiopia unity, and not that asperse to grab power by any means necessary.

Good governance is about transparency and accountability! How does the US Diaspora behavior show this?

The public, on its part, ought to do its share to keep the flame of this spirit burning by closely overseeing that the politicians are doing their jobs properly. This lop sided growth or monopoly to be exact shows that there is a growing and misleading corruption being mistaken as growth. There should be critical analsysis to show where is the growth and why is it in the hands of few people? Can we examine how these so called millionares made their money, or did they rob the banks and international development and aid agencies? How do we know there is real growth in the economy?

The millennium celebrations were successful mainly due to the active participation of the public, because of the public's conviction that it should wholeheartedly welcome the millennium!

Let everyone do their share; let's strengthen the spirit that has been created. Let the renaissance be a renaissance.


Article 2. Ethiopia: Economic Growth, Challenges, Globalization in the Eyes of Stiglitz

The Reporter (Addis Ababa)

22 September 2007
Posted to the web 24 September 2007

Hayal Alemayehu

Economic Growth, is it sustainable?

That Ethiopia's economy has been doing well over the last few years is not that disputable. In fact, it has got recognition both from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Recognized around the world as a leading economic educator, Professor Joseph E. Stiglitz on Monday also seemed impressed by Ethiopia's economic growth, although he was as well concerned on the challenges ahead to keep that growth sustainable for a longer period.

Invited by the Ethiopian Economic Association and the Ethiopian Development Research Institute to give a lecture on growth and globalization at the headquarters of Economic Commission for Africa, Stiglitz says, "It has been impressive to see Ethiopia's growth being sustained for the last four years by some ten percent."

According to him, most of the rest of the East African countries and other developing nations have also been doing well.

What, however, struck Stiglitz about Ethiopia's growth seemed the source of it. "Some of the growth these developing countries registered over the last several years is a result of increase in commodity prices, particularly in the case of China. The success in Ethiopia is clearly far more than that. It has got to do with an increase in production output, diversification, and going into new areas," says the professor.

Is this real growth, or the reflection of money injected into the economy from aborad?

According to Stiglitz, the main challenge will be keeping that growth for a longer period. "The question everybody is asking is how to make that growth sustainable and how to ensure that the benefit of that growth is widely shared."

The Professor says that Ethiopia was lucky given its recent history and the difficulties it had come through. "At least, Ethiopia has one of the most egalitarian distributions of income in the world," he says.

Why is the growth in the hands of few monopolies?

In contrast, in much of the developing world, not only are there high levels of inequality, but also the level of the inequality has been increasing very dramatically, according to the professor. Even in China, which has been very successful in reducing poverty, the level of inequality has reached alarming point, he says.

Financial standards with transparency and accountability is not seen, why?

According to the professor, this increase in inequality both within and between countries is providing a real challenge for anybody concerned with egalitarian growth. And the notion that as long as there is growth everybody benefits in what is termed as a "trickle-down economy," has, in fact, proved wrong, says the world-renowned economist. "There was no good economic theory behind a trickle-down economy and the evidence that support it."

"The US current GDP is 20 percent higher than it was in 2000 and yet most Americans are poorer than they were six years ago. The number of people living in poverty in the US has increased. All that growth has gone to the people at the very top and the growth registered was pro-rich," Stiglitz says. "This phenomenon is worrisome and is happening in many parts of the world." Globalization is partly a cause of this, according to the professor.

What is a developmental strategy if the resources are only in few corrupt hands?

While the debate in Ethiopia and in Africa is part of the broader argument on developmental strategy that has been going on for a long time, Stiglitz suggests a number of ways and means that Ethiopia and other African countries could do in order to help keep up their growth.

Markets do not fail if they are regulated or managed!

One important aspect that Stiglitz suggests is an effective role of the state in the developmental processes of African countries. "Market failure is one area where governments can play an important role," he says. Although there is governance problem, "no country has been successful without having an important role from the government." At one time or another, the government has played an important role in the US as well as Europe, according to stiglitz.

The professor also notes that developing countries should identify and focus at their comparative advantages in global economy.

Stiglitz suggests that access to finance is another area developing countries should consider. "Access to finance is essential for the long-term growth of especially small and medium enterprises, while these businesses are the source for more jobs."

Most knowledgable professionals are exiting the scene! Why?

The professor also indicates how knowledge would help the growth of developing countries.

Commenting on globalization, the professor would not deny that Africa was at disadvantage. "Many people had said that Africa had benefited from globalization probably because it has been least integrated into the global economy," Stiglitz says. "That may not be an accurate description because Africa has, sometimes alarmingly, been affected in many ways by what has been going in the world economy." According to the professor, the global rules of trade are unfair to the poorest countries. "Not only are the US and Europe the major beneficiaries of globalization, but the benefits they gain come also from the expense of the poor countries of the world."

While globalization has its ups and downs in the countries' economy, the concern growing with it is growing inequality within and between countries.

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"If you see a world in which water flows uphill, you would say something is very weird about that world. Money should be flowing from the rich to the poor. But within this anti-gravity financial market, money has been flowing from the poor to the rich," Stiglitz says. According to him, some USD 500 billion last year went from poor countries to rich nations.

The good news is, says Stiglitz, that there was a growing recognition of many of these problems. "We can shape globalization to work. There are ways that could make globalization work for both the developed and developing countries."

"It is a time of change in Ethiopia and in Africa," the professor says. Given the growth that has been experienced, the challenge will be how to make that sustainable, according to Stiglitz. "I think there are some real opportunities with globalization, particularly if we can shape the way it is working now."

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