Double digit economic growth and empty plates – By Tamiru Geda

December 12th, 2009 Print Print Email Email

The economic trend in Ethiopia has got different views from the economic analysis and claims by the government. At a time where economic growth claims are diminished by looming famine, Ethiopian government officials are trying to hide the facts on the ground as millions of starving Ethiopians could not afford staving off hunger on a daily basis.

Wondimu Mekonen, a UK-based academician and activist says: “The current economic situation in Ethiopia is in shambles. It is totally negative. Without any mathematical analyses, one could see the number of the unemployed , homeless, street children and number of destitute beggars crowded in major cities. Inflation is very high.

“To give a simple example, at the time of Emperor Haile Selassie one could buy Injera with spicy Key and Alitcha Wat for less than two Birr. Unfortunately now a similar meal is priced more than fifty Birr. That shows the fact that our Birr purchasing value has been significantly degraded,” said Wondimu.

He also disagrees with Ato Melse Zenawi’s recent report about economic development that the latter forecasts more than two digits growth. “That is completely a lie.” Wondimu challenged the assertion by referring to some statements from international organizations about Ethiopia’s economic achievements related to anti-poverty goal in the year 2015. “Lack of good governance, wrong land policy that favors only pro-TPLF investors or foreigners who don’t play direct role in alleviating malnutrition etc…are responsible for the current economic crises in Ethiopia,” according to Mr Wondimu .

Wondimu further noted: “Ethiopia is the main source of the Blue Nile that feeds countries like Egypt throughout the year, whereas we are still suffering because of hunger. Without a political leadership and vision by the ruling party and getting rid off a culture of foreign aid dependency , Ethiopia will never overcome this problem in the near future .

“The liberalization of financial institutions such as banks, insurance companies from party monopoly and the existence of proper free market policy in the country are some of the main questions that should be answered.”

Matyas (not his real name), editor- in-chief a highly reputable private press in Ethiopia , says that it is a bit complicated to reach a conclusion about Ethiopia’s current economic trend, be it positive or negative, for various reasons. Factors like Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) inflow , export earnings, imports, access to finance , inflation, availability of foreign currency , less bureaucracy and equal treatment of businesses will show some insight in the overall economic trend. In his view understanding the actual living conditions, life expectancy and prosperity of individual citizens are the practical parameters.”

In this economical crisis year, FDI to Ethiopia comes from China and Middle Eastern countries. Those companies and countries were not significantly affected by the global economic crunch. In addition to that most of the investment launched this year were those who did their feasibility study and the decision prior to the recession year. Bedsides this most investments from China were highly encouraged by the communist Chinese government through the Sino-Africa or Sino-Ethiopia bilateral economic arrangements. And their finance source is also their government or Banks. The Middle East case is also similar. Matyas said most of the investments are focused on export-oriented agriculture which they planned to export it to their respective country.

“Though it is encouraging trend but favoring certain companies or country’s is not create a health business doing atmosphere at all,” he said.

In terms of Ethiopia’s Export the fiscal year was not pleasing both quantity and earnings. Consumers dissatisfaction for imported goods and declined price rates , in the West is believed factor to the problem.

“Take flower as a good example that are affected by the credit crunch .Though it is now both flower and coffee price increases on the world market, but the fact for the year has put the country at a crossroads.” Matyas further commented that due to shortage of Foreign Currency in Ethiopia the import business was a direct victim of recession. “Companies that even won big tenders to supply goods have failed due to unavailability of adequate foreign currency and unable to open Letters of Credit (LC) .”This leads to high inflation of price of imported supplies in the local market. The increase of fuel price in global market and TPLF’s inability to narrow the huge gap on trade balance are also mentioned as problem.

Some observers also point out the fact that landlocked Ethiopia is spending $1 billion a year only for using Djibouti port. The huge port services cost is believed to the major cause of dwindling hard currency reserve.

According to Matyas, access to bank loan is also made too hard due to complex requirements that might be impossible for the average or low income citizen to engage in business.” Though the government declares about the sufficient amount money through microfinance in states for micro business it becomes a political tool to favor pro-TPLF/ Weyane business. It may even have a small room for independent citizens but not adequate. ”State owned banks are also said responsible for the unhealthy wealth distribution between the rich and the poor. Access to loan in the commercial banks for a simple individual is thoroughly lawless. It is very easy for the rich to get richer and also for the poor to get much poorer.

Despite the propaganda disseminated by the government as if it makes efforts to improve the economic conditions of the majority, practically its policies have been hindering real progress.In other words, the ruling party is creating economically strong and favored members or supporters that bark whenever their interests are at stake.

Many people label her as a pessimistic; however Christine Ogada , a Kenyan who studies Journalism in Nairobi, calls herself realistic. She says that the economic trend in many African countries such as Kenya and Ethiopia is not promising .” According to reports by international media outlets, millions are going hungry due to poor rain and bad governments in many poor countries .” Christine Said, “The ffunny thing is that no one in the government is looking at these problems.”

“Corruption is killing us slowly, look at Kenya for example before the recent violence our economy was on the positive side even though corruption was still thriving .We could support 90%of our budget and the 10% depend on the donor money. We didn’t need much aid,” she stated.

Journalist Abebe Gellaw, a Stanford University fellow and critic of the Meles regime, said that claims of double-digit economic growth is preposterous as millions of hunger-stricken Ethiopians are left to scratch their empty plates. “The only amazing growth which has been witnessed in the last eighteen years has been registered by the TPLF and its partners. The ethnic front is probably the biggest political business empire anywhere illegally siphoning off financial and natural resources to benefit a selected few.”

He asserted that while tens of millions of Ethiopians are condemned to live with hunger and sustaining their lives with alms from the West, making exaggerated claims of economic growth makes little sense. “It is outrageously nonsense. These people are even selling lands that can ensure food security for the nation of hunger. So what sense does it make to the poor if Middle Eastern oil barons invest billions to grow food for their own market? ” he said.

  1. Nuru
    | #1

    Tamiru,
    You was one hard working journalist in Ethiopia until the environment was no longer accommodating for your work and you left the country. To day, we are witnessess once againg to the fleeing of able and hardworking journalists like you, the case of the editors of Adis Negar is an example.
    I am glad to see that you are still trying, under the circumstances, to practice your profession.
    Keep it up and good luck.

  2. ደምስ
    | #2

    When dictator melese talking about double digit economic growth in Ethiopia, he is talking EFFORT’s growth. Foreigners they can not tell EFFORT is owned by the dictator. No country I know in this planet has a double digit growth with millions of starved people.

    Here in the western world 1+1=2 always!! Not some time. In Ethiopia under dictator melese 1+1=5. That’s why you have over 9 millions starved people under the dictator melese’s nose.

    There is a solution, dictator has to go. But we have to die for our freedom and change will happen. We want some body else to die for our freedom. That’s why dictator melese still in Addis. It is possible God also will intervine any time on behalf of Ethiopian people.

  3. aatitegheb
    | #3

    I have to admit that I have no pretention of being accademic man but I really wonder how our great heads can deny the fact the Ethiopia of today is comparable to the empirial time. Look, the false vaue given to our currency left us behind everyone because no one would dare to lose his dollar on fack value investing in Ethiopia. Yes, Ethiopia is not the best place to live in the planet but do not tell us with you big heads that things are not changing. I do not know anywhere in the world where government feeds people. Government tries to creat jobs, make infastractures and just policies and that is taking place in the present Ethiopia but in a poverty of ocean it is difficult to make dramatic change. Count universities, colleges, hospitals, roads, dams and other investments and tell me that these institutions jave nothing to do with betterment of the people’s life. You are just losing your credibility by descrediting where credit is due. Tell the truth, criticise where and when is due and come and help.

  4. from ethiopia
    | #4

    To give a simple example, at the time of Emperor Haile Selassie one could buy Injera with spicy Key and Alitcha Wat for less than two Birr. Unfortunately now a similar meal is priced more than fifty Birr.

    have u ever been to ethiopia. sele inflation menamen maawrat alefelegem gin key wot be 50 birr beleche alakem. even i havent seen a price more than 20 birr for a key wat. wondemu new yemibalewe moron yehen 50 yemibal neger keyet endametawe egezabere. ante denze mekawem lela new mewashet lela new

  5. Yonas
    | #5

    at the time of Emperor Haile Selassie one could buy Injera with spicy Key and Alitcha Wat for less than two Birr

    Less than two Birr? that is an exaggeration. True, you can find that for less than two Birr. But, unless you go to the famous hotels the price of ‘a Key Wot or Alicha be injera is no more than 0.50 cents. If you are a ‘shai biet’ type you can even find one for 0.15 cents.
    Man yawra yenebere man yinagher yeqebere indilu.

  6. Drogba
    | #6

    aatitegheb,
    What a comment!I am afraid we will stuck with our poverty for a long time to come,unless we stop being lazy and ignorant.

    ethiopia,
    Please let us stop shifting our problem from one govt to another.I think it is about time to point our fingers toward us.we have to be blamed for what we are today.Where else in the world people are still struggling to feed themselves other than in our country.It is not too late to swallow our pride and face the fact.

  7. አንበሴ
    | #7

    ጎበዝ ኢትዮጵያውያን ወቅታዊውን አቅጣጫችን ወያኔን ማንበርከክ እንጂ ኢኮኖሚው እንዲህ ሆነ በዚህ በዚህ እንዲህ ሆነ የሚባል ጥናታዊ ጽሁፎችን በማቅረብ ወያኔን አንዲት ደካማ ጨረፍታ ብቻ በማቅረብ ሁሉም ነገር ተሸፋፍኖ ያጠፋችሁት ይህ ብቻ ነው በሚል ሕዝብን ከትግል የሚያዘናጋ ከመሆኑም በላይ በአንክሮ ሊታሰብበት የሚገባ ጉዳይ ነው:: ሕብረተሰባችን በማንኛውም ረገድ እየተሰቃየ ነው ያለው:- በማህበራዊ በኢኮኖሚው በወታደራዊና ወዘተርፈ….
    እውነተኛው ኢትዮጵያዊ ትኩረቱ ” ከሁሉም በፊት ኢትዮጵያን ማዳን ” ነው እንጂ የአንድን ዘርፍ ችግር ብቻ ብናንጸባርቅ አሁንም ወያኔ ያጠፋኸው ይህ ብቻ ነውና ስህተትህ ቀጥልበት ጽሁፍ ቢቀርና ትኩረታችንን:- ሁሉም ነገር ሃገርን ወደማዳን ተግባር የሚለውን መርህ እንያዝ:: የኢትዮጵያ ሕዝብ በማንኛውም ነገር በፋሽስት ወያኔዎች ጭካኔያዊ አገዛዝ እየተሰቃዩ ነውና ሃገር ወዳዶች የምናስወግድበትን አንድነት ጠንክራችሁ ብትጽፉ ብታስተባብሩ ታላቅ ነገር ነው እላለሁ::

    ድል ለኢትዮጵያ ሕዝብ!!!

  8. Basamen zare
    | #8

    There is going to be such a disgrace for TPLF Govt. when world prominent politicians start acknowledging the facts on the current and ardent situations of Ethiopians political climate.
    The harassment of free press, the systematic and injustice of imprisonment or eliminating citizens or their jobs ,because they oppose or criticize TPLF. This negativity alone put the leader of such a nation in a big hole. Civilized and developed nation has a moral obligation to stop this kind of harsh and undemocratic rule, it is long over due.

    Indeed, the Meles Govt. under his leader ship has been in a major transformation of economical changes around major cities and some suburbs. But, these cosmetic changes are known to have benefiting only the TPLF elites and some prominent industrialist or former Diaspora loyal opportunist merchants. The infrastructures that have been glamorizing this poor nation of our Ethiopia, might fool the diplomats, and the city dweller NGO aristocrats to certain extent. But, they know that Ethiopia’s poor has suffered deep enough for the past half century, and probably they are concluded that the poor citizens are better off today under the TPLF leadership .
    But, we the Diaspora and freedom loving citizens clearly understands why Human right groups around the globe are only focusing on countries or leaders that are under the umbrella of “Threat or unfriendly nations to the west”. It is clear that EPRDF leader Meles emboldened by the West especially by USA , for his war against terrorism. This gave our Dear beloved leader to do what ever he wishes to do to any moving human sole under him. He is Mr. Justice, THE GODFATHER.

  9. ክምንሊክ ቤተመንግስት ብትለው አይሻልምን?
    | #9

    from ethiopia :To give a simple example, at the time of Emperor Haile Selassie one could buy Injera with spicy Key and Alitcha Wat for less than two Birr. Unfortunately now a similar meal is priced more than fifty Birr.
    have u ever been to ethiopia. sele inflation menamen maawrat alefelegem gin key wot be 50 birr beleche alakem. even i havent seen a price more than 20 birr for a key wat. wondemu new yemibalewe moron yehen 50 yemibal neger keyet endametawe egezabere. ante denze mekawem lela new mewashet lela new

    የአማሪኛውን ሆሀእ ለመጠቀም ያለብህ ፎቢያ ያስቸገረህ ትመስላለህ:: ያለው ለውጥ ከዚህ እንዴማይዘል ካንተእው ጽሁፍ መረዳት ይቻላል::
    ምኒሊክ ቤተመንግሥት ያልከው ችግር ሁሉ እንደለእለማ መች አጣነው:: የሎንዶኑ ቢዋሸን አይደንቀንም:: አንተግን እዚሁ ሆነህ ስትዋሸን ግን እግዚኦ ከመአት ሰውረን ከማለት በስተቀር ምን እንላለን?
    ወረእህን ተወውና እስቲ እኒህ የአረብ ኢንቨስተሮች የሚያመርቱትን ምርት ወደ ሀገራቸው መውሰድ ሲጀምሩ የ’እህል ምርት ዋጋ ምን እንደሚመስል ከወዲሁ ተንብይልን::

  10. ክምንሊክ ቤተመንግስት ብትለው አይሻልምን?
    | #10

    @aatitegheb
    You advised the contributoer to do the following:
    ” You are just losing your credibility by descrediting where credit is due. Tell the truth, criticise where and when is due and come and help.”
    What is your take on the contributor’s concluding paragraph?
    /”He asserted that while tens of millions of Ethiopians are condemned to live with hunger and sustaining their lives with alms from the West, making exaggerated claims of economic growth makes little sense. “It is outrageously nonsense. These people are even selling lands that can ensure food security for the nation of hunger. So what sense does it make to the poor if Middle Eastern oil barons invest billions to grow food for their own market? ” he said.”

  11. Anonymous
    | #11

    Let us try to fight thisd dictator mels practically

  12. Baheilu
    | #12

    The outrageous claim is not funny anymore. It just makes me sick when the so called leaders publicize double digit economic growth. When I was in Ethiopia I stayed with my mom in Addis suburbia (it is an upper middle class area), even in that area you see young people standing around with out doing anything. When I ask who they are I was told most them finished high schools and local colleges and can’t find a job. These young men and women came from a well to do family and family connection, if these young people can’t find a job, who will? For me I just don’t believe anything that comes from the tplf leadership mouth. The only choice we have is to fight this leadership with whatever means we have, by military or peaceful means.
    I will say it again, we, Ethiopians, should fight, fight and fight this corrupted and mafia tplf group.

  13. Drogba
    | #13

    Baheilu,
    You said “These young men and women came from a well to do family and family connection,if these young people can’t find a job,who will?”I have no sympathy for these young men\women who preferred to waste their valuable time despite having a well to do family and CONECTIONS.You remember during the Mengistu regime,apart from his evil did i give Mengestu credit for his nationalism and great effort to eradicate illiteracy in our country.When he called the nation young people to volunteer for these services,only the poor were the one who made the sacrifice while those who you call from a well to do family stayed behind to stand around(you said this)by using their so called family CONNECTION.I personally don’t blame any govt for people who lack resposibility.They have every opportunity not only to better themselves but also they can help those who haven’t.

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