Thank you for bringing the issue of industrial malfunction in today’s Ethiopia to your esteemed readers (Face to face with institutional injustice, Nov. 2012). However, you have argued that the special attention Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has given to the animal husbandry and meat export business, if your sources are to be trusted, has two shortcomings. I agree with the first, but your second argument is somehow short of details and lacks a good argumentative stand. Nearly a decade ago the late PM Meles Zenawi gave the horticulture/floriculture sector all that this country has as a nation: a fertile land, a generous access to government money, tax break and what have you. The result is an industry that is now one of the three biggest foreign currency earners to the nation. Having been aware of the sector’s immense contribution, the government of Ethiopia has recently made available close to 50, 000 hct of land in various parts of the country for the sector.
I read your article on the institutional problems private industries are facing in Ethiopia with great interest (Face to face with institutional injustice, Nov. 2012). As a foreign investor in your country, I was part of the said meeting in the afternoon with H.E. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. While I appreciate his good will to discuss matters at the heart of the problem directly with us, I am afraid some of the problems we are facing go beyond institutional incapacity and need a policy overhaul. Access to foreign currency and our freedom as foreign investors to decide how and where we can use the hard earned foreign currency we have generated from our business need a total revamp of the trade polices of Ethiopia. As far as my understanding from the meeting is concerned, there is no sign of the government willing to compromise on its tight control of foreign currency. A country can’t have satisfactory industrial progress if foreign investors who are risking their money and talent are not able to decide how to spend their foreign currency finances.
The reason why Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn wanted to focus on animal husbandry and meat export sector is not only to benefit a “handpicked sector” as was argued in your article (Face to face with institutional injustice, Nov. 2012) but also to help the nations animal husbandry potential. For decades we have been hearing the cattle riches of Ethiopia is the 10th in the world and the 1st in Africa, perhaps the time has come for us to reap the benefit of this rich.
“The principal tools readily used by oppressors to impose their will on the passive masses are brutal physical force and a fully monopolized media.” (The morphology of bad governance, Nov. 2012). I know a country, as I am sure so would many of Ethiopians who read this article, that fits perfectly not only into the above sentence but also into the rest of the requirements discussed in your Society and Economy column as the “morphology of bad governance.” Good job.
The issues of condominiums in Addis Ababa surely deserve a nationwide media campaign (Condominiums in Addis: slums in the making? Nov. 2012). Just as I was reading your article, more than a dozen satellite receivers (the dishes are too big to carry) were stolen in one night from the Gerji condominium site. That incident was not the first and certainly will not be the last. What is more troubling is we the residents have applied to organize a community police within the site, in the last eight months no one both from the district police station and Kifle ketema is able to finalize our request. Meanwhile, the sizes and crime rates inside our site have continued growing.
Gerji condominium site