Friday, November 02, 2007
Millennial Opportunities: Changing Challenges into Opportunities
Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc for Peace and Prosperity- www.globalbelai4u.blogspot.com; GSE4P&P
Synergistic Win-win Partnerships for Prosperity Via 5Es:
The 5Es; (E1:Education+ E2: ENERGY+E3: ECOLOGY+ E4: Economy+ E5: Enterprises)
Millennial Passion: Changing Challenges to Opportunities
Ethiopia just celebrated its Millennium and is in a high spirit of Millennial Renaissance.
The Challenges continues to be population explosion, unemployment, potential sectarian and Jihadist violence from neighboring Middle East.
The Opportunities are the new drive for economic, social and political Renaissance that is being propelled by the Millennial Celebrations.
However, being at the strategically critical bottleneck of the Global Oil Sea Routes, Ethiopia has to learn to provide win-win leadership and partnerships to the competing interests of African and Arab Neighbors that compete with global neighbors such as European and Chinese as well as American competition for accessing resources and influence is critical.
The United States banks on the 100 years of diplomatic and strategic partnership with positive track record in the Korea, the Congo, Rwanda and now Somalian Civil Wars.
The rift between Congress and the White House is no more pronounced on the strategic partnership of US and Ethiopia relations as it is being hotly debated both in the Diaspora and the US Senate.
The Economist provides a thorough background information to highlight an in depth analysis communication on Ethiopia it is worth considering it seriously.
Your perspective is critical as the stakes are too high to be ignored.
http://www.economis t.com/PrinterFri endly.cfm? story_id= 10062658
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An Ancient (brittle) Western ally in the Horn of Africa
Nov 1st 2007 | ADDIS ABABA, ARBA MINCH AND LALIBELA
From The Economist print edition
While things are getting better in much of Africa,Ethiopia risks getting left behind
An Oasis of Peace in the midst of turmoil
AS AMERICA surveys the map of eastern Africa, it finds little to take comfort from. Somalia is in anarchy, riven by competing warlords and a haven for Islamist militants.
Comparing Sudan and Ethiopia?
Sudan is involved in the bloody suppression of blacks in its western region, Darfur.
Both countries are deaf to outside complaints and seem chronically unstable.
Eritrea on the Terrorist watch list!
America is thinking of putting Eritrea, briefly a beacon of hope after it split from
Ethiopia in 1993, on its list of countries that sponsor terrorism. But between that grim trio stands Ethiopia, America's hope.
Ethiopia the only hope!
This ancient country has become an essential ally of America in the “war on terror”. Last year Ethiopia invaded Somalia in support of a UN-backed transitional federal government, which had been threatened with jihad by the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) that had taken over Mogadishu, the capital.
Keeping the al-Qaeda in its tracks!
The Americans joined in, giving vital intelligence, to catch al-Qaeda people whom the UIC was sheltering. These men, it believed, were responsible for the bombings of
the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998,killing more than 220 people.
Home to the Free or EOR Program?
The West and Ethiopia are co-operating closely against the Islamist threat in the Horn of Africa, which threatens the coast of Kenya and Tanzania as well. It
is alleged that Ethiopia is a destination for prisoners interrogated under the CIA's “extraordinary rendition” programme.
Arming and abating terrorists is a ........?
Certainly the Bush administration has been unstinting in its praise of Meles Zenawi, the prime minister. It has also vilified Ethiopia's neighbour and mortal enemy, Eritrea, which it accuses, among other things, of arming and funding the Somali Islamists.
Leading the African Millennial Rennaisance!
Mr Zenawi won the West's friendship, too, for his efforts to tackle Ethiopia's deep poverty. These have met with some success—so much so that Tony Blair has put Mr Zenawi in the vanguard of an “African Renaissance”. But Ethiopia's upward track as development poster-child and dependable ally wasrudely interrupted in 2005. That year's presidential and parliamentary elections were marred by mass
killings on the streets of the capital.
The Challenges of the May 2005 Orange Insurrection!
Police fired on opposition supporters and others who were protesting against what they claimed were rigged elections. Tens of thousands, including journalists
and NGO workers as well as opposition activists, were rounded up in a general dragnet; many spent weeks, or months, in prison without charge. Opposition leaders
were accused of hugely inflated crimes, such as high treason and genocide. Seventy-one of them were freed only last summer, after having to sign a letter admitting their part in inciting violent protests.
The role of the Diaspora in USA?
These events shattered the West's cosy image of the modernising, progressive Mr Zenawi. Appalled Western governments abruptly switched off direct financial
support to the Ethiopian government, though aid has been resumed through indirect channels. And an anti-Zenawi lobby, largely funded by the big Ethiopian
diaspora in America, now issues a stream of anti-government criticism from the United States.
Controversy over human right record!
A few weeks ago the House of Representatives passed a bill condemning Ethiopia's human-rights record and pledging money to help opposition politics. Though it stands almost no chance of becoming law, it shows that Ethiopia is now a subject of fierce controversy.
The Millennium- Orthodox Ethiopia Ignoring Pope Gregory's Decree to jump 7 years!
Ethiopia likes to do things differently. In September it started celebrating the new millennium above), more than seven years after everybody else. The country has been out of step in this respect since 1582: while the rest of the Christian world hanged to the revised Gregorian calendar, Ethiopia stuck to the Julian. It also still keeps its own time, measured in 12-hour cycles of day and night rather than 24-hour ones.
The Only Country never colonized in the World!
Uniquely in Africa, Ethiopia was never really colonised by Europeans. But its singular history has been a curse as much as a blessing. As the rest of Africa decolonised and modernised, albeit fitfully, after the second world war, Ethiopia remained stuck fast in a feudal fantasy presided over by a diminutive emperor, Haile Selassie. He was deposed only in 1974, by which time the modern world had largely passed Ethiopia by and the country had become known for poverty and famine. It still is.
The Dreadful Legacy of the Military Junta (1974-1991)
Ethiopia was further damaged by the committee of military officers, known as the Derg, that overthrew the emperor. That regime degenerated into a “red terror” of gulags and summary executions; it also lost an expensive, wasteful war with Tigrayan and Eritrean separatists over what would become, in 1993, the newcountry of Eritrea. The Derg produced the dreadful famines of 1984-85, the first to be alleviated mainly
by the efforts of Bob Geldof and a phalanx of rock stars.
Progress since 1991 (EPRDF Reign)
Since the early 1990s, however, Ethiopia has recovered somewhat under Mr Zenawi. Signs of that are evident on the big, pristine campus of the University of Arba
Minch, more than 500km (311 miles) south of Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa. The university's president, Tarekegn Tadesse, has welcomed 8,000 students this term, a huge number for an obscure provincial town of 50,000-odd people. The crowd of freshmen, he says, testifies to the government's rapid expansion of
tertiary education; in the case of Arba Minch, enrolment has increased fourfold in seven years.
The Higher Education Bonanza!
It is an inspiring story. The new university buildings springing up all over the south are tangible evidence that the aid and development money pumped into
Ethiopia reaches the people it is meant to. Roads are clearly being built, funded largely by the Chinese; schools and water-treatment plants are being opened.
And there are few complaints of corruption, a fact that continues to make Ethiopia popular with foreign donors.
Improvements in health, education and the economy!
Some of the results are encouraging, too. Infant mortality is said to have dropped from 141 per 1,000 live births in 2000 to 123 per 1,000 in 2005; over 70% of children are now in school, and access to clean water has more than doubled in ten years. Furthermore,the government can point to the rapid expansion of a few sectors in what is still mostly an agricultural economy.
The Flower Economy!
The great volcanic lakes of the Rift Valley south of the capital are now ringed by vast flower farms, mainly exporting to Europe. Flowers earn the country about $88m in exports annually, creating some 50,000 jobs in the past few years.
The six cents a day economy in Sidama (South)!
Yet despite this, after almost a decade of well-intentioned development policies, Ethiopians remain mired in the most wretched poverty. Officially, about 80% of them live on less than $2 a day. Often it is a lot less than that. An area like Sidama, in the south, looks green, tropical and improbably fertile, but existence there can be precarious. One foreign charity, Action Contre la Faim, recently found that
the average cash income for households in one area was six cents a day. Shocked researchers concluded that the depth of poverty there was “far beyond what had
previously been thought”.
A 500 people weekly market turns only $23.00!
Visiting the nearby villages confirms these cold statistics. In Garbicho Lela, high up in the hills, a nurse estimates that 13% of children are severely malnourished. The one shop in the village betrays the low level of economic activity; on the weekly market day, when over 500 people will walk for hours from the surrounding hill-villages to sell a few things, the shop will do only about 200 birrs ($23) of business.
A supermarket of Two Pepsi sale per day!
On an average day, it sells two Pepsis. After three years of good rains, aid workers reckon that the risk of severe food shortages has, for the moment, receded. But so marginal are the reserves of food and money here that one bad season could still spell disaster.
The Chinese loans are not denting the economy: more is needed!
The fact is that for all the aid money and Chinese loans coming in, Ethiopia's economy is neither growing fast enough nor producing enough jobs. The number of
jobs created by flowers is insignificant beside an increase in population of about 2m a year, one of the fastest rates in Africa.
Population explosion at 2Million Per Year!
Since every mother has about seven children, it is conceivable that Ethiopia, with
75m-plus people today, could overtake Nigeria (now 140m-strong) as Africa's most populous country by mid-century. Just to stand still, let alone make inroads into poverty, the country must produce hundreds of thousands of jobs a year.
No Private Sector and No Jobs to be seen!
It is hard to see where they will come from. The government claims that the economy has been growing at an impressive 10% a year since 2003-04, but the real figure is probably more like 5-6%, which is little more than the average for sub-Saharan Africa. And even that modestly improved rate, with a small building boom in Addis Ababa, for instance, has led to the overheating of the economy, with inflation moving up to 19% earlier this year before the government took remedial action.
11% Private Sector Investment?
The reasons for this economic crawl are not hard to find. Beyond the government-directed state, funded substantially by foreign aid, there is—almost uniquely
in Africa—virtually no private-sector business at all. The IMF estimates that in 2005-06 the share of private investment in the country was just 11%, nearly
unchanged since Mr Zenawi took over in the early 1990s. That is partly a reflection of the fact that, despite some privatisation since the centralised Marxist days of the Derg, large areas of the economy remain government monopolies, closed off to private business.
No Jobs for the boys
This is where Ethiopia misses out badly. Take telecoms. While the rest of Africa has been virtually transformed in just a few years by a revolution in mobile telephony, Ethiopia stumbles along with its inept and useless government-run services.
Everywhere else, a plethora of South African, home-grown and European providers has leapt into the market to provide Africans with an extraordinary array of cheaper and more efficient services, now used even by the poorest of farmers, for instance, to check spot prices for agricultural goods in markets miles away.
The Mobile Phone Revolution is too late in Ethiopia!
And the mobile-phone revolution has created thousands of new livelihoods; at times it seems as if every boy on a street corner is hawking a top-up card. Not in
Micor-finance not matching the much needed start up business loans!
It is the same story in financial services, where, despite the growth of some smaller private banks, no foreign banks are allowed. Micro-finance schemes have
expanded exponentially, but it remains almost impossible to find start-up loans for small or medium businesses.
No Official unemployment rate? 70% youth not engaged in the economy!
There is no official unemployment rate, but youth unemployment, some experts reckon, may be as high as 70%. All those graduates coming out of state-run universities will find it very hard to get jobs. The mood of the young is often restless and spairing; many dream of moving abroad.
300,000 Unemployed youth planed to burn the city in May 2005!
It was this mood of resentment that the opposition tapped into in 2005, and the capital's maybe 300,000 unemployed young men proved a combustible force on the streets. The ruling party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), underestimated the degree of disillusion with its policies, and thus overreacted when the opposition polled much better than expected.
The Private Sector needs to create jobs!
Unless the private sector is allowed to create jobs, the country's problems will continue to mount and the gains of development may be squandered. Sooner rather
than later, 2m more people a year will overwhelm a state that is trying to provide most of the jobs itself.
The fractious tribes
Economic failings are Ethiopia's biggest long-term challenge; but its worst short-term problems are political. Just as the government is slowing the pace of economic expansion for fear that individuals may accumulate wealth and independence, so it is failing to move fast enough from a one-party state to a modern, pluralist democracy. Again, the reason may be that it is afraid to.
Seven Percent Tigrians; 22% Amharas, and 40% Oromos competing!
The difficulties stem partly from the country's ethnic make-up. Mr Zenawi and the ruling elite are Tigrayans,from the north, a group that is only about 7% of the
population. The Oromos, mainly in the centre and south, comprise 40% of the population and provide most of the country's food; but they feel excluded from its
economic gains. The Amharas, comprising about 22%, are traditionally Ethiopia's educated ruling class, providing the leadership both of the Derg and of Haile
Ethnic secessionist movements the new challenge!
The main opposition party in 2005, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), was largely Amharic; they resent the ascendancy of the Tigrayans. And in the south-east Ogaden region are Muslim Somalis, who have more in common with neighbouring Somalia than with the remote Tigrayans. At one time or another, most of these ethnic groups
have pursued secessionist ambitions at the expense of a greater Ethiopia. The government, to its credit, must have thought that it had drawn much of the poison
of ethnic competition by introducing a new federal constitution in 1994, with many powers devolved to the regions, and by accepting the independence of Eritrea
The Ogaden Security Challenge: Hotbed of Regional terrorists?
But recent events have reignited the threat of ethnic, and thus political,instability. The turmoil in Somalia has led to a reawakening of the Ogaden
National Liberation Front, which in April killed 74 workers, including nine Chinese, at an oil-exploration camp; the week before last it claimed to have killed
250 government soldiers in a gun battle. Some of its leaders want to be part of a greater Islamist Somalia, and are probably being helped by the Islamist militias
Oromo terrorists posing as the terrorist link?
The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) also continues to be active; though its military activities are disavowed by most Oromos, many sympathise with the broad aim of getting a better deal for Oromia. The CUD is leading the battle across the Atlantic against Mr Zenawi's rule, and Eritrea has tried to stoke each uprising, supplying arms to the Oromo rebels and even playing host to its leaders in Asmara, the Eritrean
Ethnic Federalism to quell Ethnic secessionist Forces!
Unfortunately, despite all the talk of ethnic federalism, the government has chosen to crack down severely on what it sees as direct threats to Ethiopia's integrity. This, in turn, sparks more opposition. The Ethiopian army has made it increasingly difficult to get into the Ogaden region, virtually one-fifth of the country; even NGOs such as Médecins Sans Frontières have been struggling to provide help there.
The Oromo Challenge!
Oromo leaders complain of continuing discrimination against them; one of them
estimates that as many as 10,000 Oromo sympathisers have, over the years, been rounded up and put in prisons across the country. Hundreds of those were
university and school teachers arrested for giving civic-education classes that stressed Oromo issues—inciting protests, claimed the government.
Former Finance Minister/World Bank Governor (Promoting terror!)
Bulcha Demeksa, an MP and leader of a minority Oromo party, the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement, complains that in the past three months thousands more
Oromos, many of them his own supporters, have been thrown into prison. He says that the government wants to extinguish any independent opposition outside the
government-sponsore d official Oromo party, the Oromo People's Democratic Organisation (OPDO). Many Oromos claim it is impossible to get state jobs in Oromia,
such as teaching, unless they join the OPDO; farmers complain that they do not get fertiliser unless they join it.
Human rights and media freedom!
Human Rights Watch, a New York-based lobby group, says that “while this government is an improvement over its predecessor [the Derg], its human-rights record is
nonetheless extremely grim.” The government has also become highly sensitive to criticism. The Committee to Protect Journalists estimates that only Zimbabwe has
produced more exiled journalists since 2001, though Eritrea is much fiercer at curbing the freedom of the press.
Jihadist terror threat!
The Ethiopian government's efforts at political control are supported by a wide network of informers and secret police. Critics say it is exploiting the
jihadist terror threat to link many legitimate opposition campaigners and supporters with terrorist groups and take them off the streets. The threats from Eritrea, where a new border war could erupt at any time, and the Islamists in Somalia are real. But at this rate, argues Mr Demeksa, “the ethnic groups are on a collision course.”
Bridging the economic and cultural divide!
It does not have to come to that. Many people are working tirelessly to bridge the differences. But if such tensions are not eased and the lack of jobs and opportunities not addressed, Ethiopia's future could get much bumpier. In that case, its friendship in a dangerously volatile region would be of little use to
Copyright © 2007 The Economist Newspaper and The
Economist Group. All rights reserved.
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Oct 2nd 2007
Most Populous Horn Country!
Ethiopia is the second-most populous country in Africa and one of the poorest. It has tetchy relations with its neighbours in the combustible Horn of Africa.
Brutal terrorist regime in Eritrea!
To the north lies Eritrea, where a border dispute in 1998 led to a savage two-year war; despite a truce, tensions persist. To the east is Somalia, where Ethiopian troops linger after routing Islamists in early 2007.
Brutal Marxist Regime!
For years, Ethiopia suffered under the “Derg”, a brutal Marxist regime that used mass starvation as a political tool. Famine continues to be a scourge, but under Meles Zenawi, who toppled the Derg in 1991 and now rules as prime minister, Ethiopia is doing better.
Market Style Reforms!
Mr Zenawi's introduction of market-style reforms has played well in the West. But the government's federal structure has failed to ease tensions between Ethiopia’s many ethnic groups. Meanwhile, Mr Zenawi's undemocratic leanings and repressive tendencies have left the West wondering if it should go on helping
Copyright © 2007 The Economist Newspaper and The
Economist Group. All rights reserved.