The selling of Ethiopia. By Yilma Bekele

March 18th, 2013 Print Print Email Email

Actually that statement might not be true. We do know our country is being sold but we have no idea if the bidding has been open or closed. We have sold almost all of Gambella, we have leased half of Afar and Oromia has been parceled out bit by bit. Our Beer factories are under new owners, our gold mines belong to the fake Ethiopian sheik, Telephone is under the Chinese and our Airlines is looking for a suitor. Have we always looked for outsiders to own us?

Not really when you consider that we celebrated the victory at the battle of Adwa a few weeks back and that was the mother of all wars that made it clear this African country is not for sale. We might not have contributed much to the industrial revolution but we did manage to rely on our own ingenuity to follow along and do things our own way. You might not believe this but there was a time when Ethiopians actually used to be involved in making stuff from scratch. You think I am making things up don’t you? I don’t blame you because today you cannot even come up with one name that stands out as an Ethiopian entrepreneur, go getter or someone that shines like the north star based solely on his own sweat and blood.

The things that were accomplished by earlier Ethiopians are all around us but we don’t see them. All the things the current government brags about have their roots in the yester years they so much condemn and brush off. I don’t know where to start but here we go. Let us start with hospitals. Bella Haile Selassie (Bella), Leelt Tshay (armed Forces), Paulos, Haile Selassie Hospital (Yekati 12), Balcha, Ghandi, Tikur Anbessa, Ras Desta, Minilik etc. The vast majority of the doctors were Ethiopians, the hospitals were clean, well equipped and you don’t even have to take your own sheets and blankets.

How about Hotels? Ethiopia, Ghion, Wabi Shebele, Ras, Bekele Molla were the premier destinations. They were owned and operated by Ethiopians. When it comes to Ethiopian Airlines the Pilots were proud Ethiopians and the technicians were the envy of Africa. The Imperial government built the Airlines from scratch. Trans World Airlines (TWA) was a partner until we were able to train and staff our own and we did manage to do that.

If we talk about agriculture we did manage to establish the Sugar estates of Metehara and Wonji not to mention Setit Humera, the wheat and corn fields of Arsi, the fiber plants of Sidama and the cotton fields of Awash Valley are testimonial to our ingenuity. The sixties saw the emergence of the new educated Ethiopians that raised the bar of excellence.

The establishment of Africa Hall was how Africans showed respect to our Emperor and our old history when they choose Addis Abeba as the head quarter for the continent. The University at sadist Kilo was a gift to his people by the Emperor and it was a spectacular success. All the teachers were highly educated Ethiopians and the graduates were the pride of our country.

Why am I discussing such subject today? It is because two items reported by the media caught my eye a few days back. Both are an assault on our sovereignty and our ability to grow our own economy by Ethiopians for Ethiopians. Heineken a Dutch conglomerate is building the biggest brewery in Ethiopia and Guangdong Chuan Hui Group from China is given 41,000 Sq. meter of land to construct hotel and industrial complex. The way the story is being reported we should be jumping with joy. What could be better than those two benevolent multi nationals investing so much in our poor destitute country?

Is that how we should look at it? Is there another aspect to this story? In order to see the pros and con of the question posed In front of us it would have been nice if there has been a nationwide discussion to see if the plan makes sense when it comes to our homeland. That is how smart decisions are made. Open and vibrant nationwide discussion regarding such important issues that impact our national economy and our people’s well-being assures a better outcome.

That usually is not the case in our country. There are no checks and balances. There is no independent legislative body and the judiciary is a government tool. A single party the TPLF controls all and everything in the country. Our political leaders have no faith in the ability of the people to know what is good for them. That is why they approach their job as being a ‘baby sitter’ and are constantly fretting about what the people hear and read. Decisions are made by a few TPLF politburo members to be approved by the rubber stamp Parliament. Anyone that questions such a decision is branded as enemy of the people and dealt with.

Let us start with our beer story. You know beer is nothing but European Tella. It is bottled fancy and costs a little bit more. How long ago do you think we acquired the idea of brewing for a larger crowd? Eighty years ago my friend! St George brewery was started in 1922. Meta Abo Brewery was founded in 1963. Meta Abo was a partnership between government and private capital and started with a base capital of 2million Birr. The military junta nationalized both and the current TPLF Woyane regime inherited them with the rest of Ethiopia. What do you think these successive regimes did with our own old industry and land? Did they build on what was started? Did they reinvest the profit to make the enterprises bigger and better? Did they run our industries, enterprises and farms in a responsible and judicious manner?

Both St. George and Meta Abo are no more Ethiopian enterprises. BGI (an internationally acclaimed Brewing Company that operates in many countries.??) bought St George in 1998 for US 10 million ‘through foreign direct investment’(??) Meta Ambo was sold to Diego Industries-a British congalmorate for US 225 million. Heineken a Dutch multi-national acquired 18% of Bedele and Harar breweries for US 163 million in 2011. Raya Brewery an idea that has not materialized yet but promoted by Lt. General Tsadkan W.Tensai and investors such as Yemane (Jamaica) Kidane and other TPLF officials sold 25% interest to BGI for 650 million Br and invited Brewtech a German company as a partner.

As you can see the TPLF regime collected close to US 400 million from the sale of our home grown breweries. By all imagination that is chump change when you consider the ownership is lost and the profit for eternity belongs to the foreigners. Is this a good way to grow a national economy? Has it been done before or is this another of that failed ‘revolutionary democracy’ pipe dream?

BGI, Diego or Heineken are investing in our country to realize profit for their shareholders. What is our country getting out of this? The beer manufacturing business is a highly automated enterprise so it is not about job creation. Most if not all of the high paying managerial jobs will be occupied by the parent company. The malt, barley and other ingredients are imported and are considered a trade secret. We all know about creative accounting thus I am sure our country does not even benefit from the profit because the bookkeeping is rigged to minimize taxes.

Let us not even think of technology transfer since we cannot learn what we have already mastered. Remember we have been brewing beer since 1922. I will tell you what we got out of this unequal relationship. We as a people got royally screwed. The TPLF party officials got paid plenty for their pimping effort. The regime in its insatiable appetite for foreign currency bought a few months of respite to purchase oil, wheat, cooking oil etc. to postpone its inevitable collapse.
There are certain things we know how a growing economy with a nationalist government operates. We have seen how China, India, Malaysia, Brazil and other emerging economies handled their growth potential. They use what is known as subsidy to protect their infant industries from foreign predators. They allowed investment where technology transfer will bring benefit to their people but shielded their home grown industries from foreign competition.

Why do you think the TPLF bosses are interested in selling our sovereignty? I doubt it is because they are anti-Ethiopian even though the late evil PM used to suffer from inferiority complex when it comes to central highlanders. I believe it is because of their ‘get rich quick’ philosophy. They are in a hurry to accumulate before their Ponzi scheme comes crashing down. According to the UN billions of dollars are leaving our country. They are buying properties in the US and Europe, sending their children to expensive schools abroad and vacationing in exotic places with the money they steal from our country.

What are we the victims doing about this rape and pillage of our resources and the degradation of our national pride? I am afraid other than insistently talking there is nothing more most of us are doing about it. Why do you think that is so? I could think of a few things but ignorance comes to mind first and foremost. Our ignorance prevents us from connecting the dots and looking at the bigger picture. Our misplaced pride does not allow us to listen to others and learn to be able to formulate better solutions to our problems.

Today we have a population that is not familiar with its history. Sixty four percent (64%) of our people are under twenty five years old while twenty nine percent (29%) are under the age of 54 years. We have a toxic population on our hands. Those under twenty five grew up under the Woyane regime where being an Ethiopian is taken as a liability. While those under fifty four are the result of the Derge era of undermining religion, family, and stability. Ninety three (93%) of our population is a fertile ground for evil Woyane to plant shame, doubt and insecurity about being Ethiopian.

It is this population that is sitting on the side and cheering the selling of their country. For most people what bothers them is not what is lost but they spend endless energy to get a piece of the action. In Ethiopia stealing, lying, being part of a criminal enterprise is encouraged by the regime. When the recently dead Meles Zenawi said ‘even being a thief requires being smart’ he was giving a green light to his cadres and the population at large. The so called Diaspora is the number one enabler of the criminal Woyane machine. They use their new found riches to bribe Woyane so they could acquire stolen land to build their flimsy unsustainable condominiums and spend endless nights worrying if the next highest bidder will in turn take it away in broad day light.

This is exactly the reason we are having a problem forming a united front to get rid of this cancerous body in our midst. This is the reason even in exile we are unable to form a democratic, inclusive and worthy association that will benefit the many. The ninety three percent are in need of education in civic affairs and a dose of what it means to love your neighbor as you would love yourself.

May be it is the lords way of teaching us little humility and humbleness as he did with the children of Israel when he left them to wonder for forty years in the wilderness so they know what is in their heart. It is a choice we have-to be humble or perish due to pride.

  1. Dawi
    | #1

    [[..Our Beer factories are under new owners, our gold mines belong to the fake Ethiopian sheik, Telephone is under the Chinese and our Airlines is looking for a suitor. Have we always looked for outsiders to own us?..]]

    EPRDF/Woyane has been successful in building physical infrastructure (roads, Hydro, cell phone & internet) for many years now and has shown undeniable progress in those areas. Such endeavors increase the competitiveness of the country, which causes more foreign direct investment. With globalization, internet access, mixing of cultures; desires and needs of a nation are becoming global, it is better to allow someone with expertise to function in our country, learn their tricks and reduce dependence on them than stay away. How much Heineken beer is imported today? I don’t even want to know.

    So the FDI in the beer industry brings newer technology and business skills which make the locals more competitive. You have already said WOYANE entrepreneurs have made lot of money and repatriated to “foreign lands” while supplying low quality beer & other low quality stuff to locals. Which one would you prefer? For the FDI to make better products, create more jobs and Government gets Tax revenue from the capital which generates more business in local distribution or for some Woyane general to get rich by managing corrupt state enterprise? You can’t have it both ways.

    Yes the state owned some legacy beer factories in the past. So what?

    They were still European products made for those who have money to buy them. The companies that took over now do the business better in the world market. They will invest more money & plan to use local by products that meets standards and export as well. They will have stable jobs for folks & introduce new business culture to the community.

    The developmental state can use such contributions to grow. It is not our mother’s Tej or Tela!! As you make it look like? Tej and Tela IMO is still an open felid for you and me, if we are up to it. We can work on doing a better job in re-packaging the best Tej/Tela for local and outside consumer markets.

    Why are calling Alamoudi a “fake Ethiopian. Isn’t his mother Ethiopian? Didn’t he grow up in Wollo? Why are you more Ethiopian than him?

    The success of the Developmental state of Ethiopia or Woyane for that matter can be considered just like the success of Libya or South Korea. As you know Libya was a successful developmental state. Its success made it its own grave digger. Now Gaddafi is gone! The place unfortunately is in a mess. The same with South Korea, the success of the military regime was the reason of it downfall and the change for the better now.

    I hope ours ends up becoming like South Korea.
    I also think that was Meles’s vision for the country.

  2. yilmab
    | #2

    I wish you read the article before responding, as far as I am concerned you are giving me some slogans and general theory not based on fact on the ground. I will take your points one by one A) Woyane built infrastructure BS- Yes they did build a few roads in twenty years of rule so what is the point specially when you see behind the headline-money was borrowed by our people and has to be paid back, the question is was it invested prudently? No, the bids were sealed not competetive, the Ethiopian subcontractors were Woyane or Woyane affiliated companies and the work was below standards making the roads fall apart within a short time. infrastructure includes such things as power, telecommunications and Internet, where do we stand on those? The bottom in Africa why? Paranoid Woyane does not like spreading of the media to be used by the people, but rather to control the people. Take Internet, there is only one ISP-Woyane and one Mobile phone company – Woyane! Imagine if our people are free to provide internet service, our programmers are allowed to write code and our Web operators are left free to experiment? Woyane uses Chinese technology to spy, control and plant fear. Your Beer argument is totally clueless you see when we owned the beer business all the profit gets reinvested in Ethiopia when Heineken owns it the profit goes out simple. Not many jobs are created cause the business is highly automated. let us just say Woyane officials got lots of money for pimping our resource. As for starting a Tej factory that is not viable cause Woyane does not allow any investment without owning a percentage which they will push you out as soon as you stand on your two feet, ask any Ethiopian that went there to invest mother than condo, they all came back humiliated, very bitter and ashamed. Alamudi is a fake Ethiopian sir. I am not into counting his parents my issue is when you suck the milk from my mothers breast you better be nice to my mother, he is not due to his affiliation with Woyane blood suckers by enabling them to kill my people, by being a laundrer of dirty money. I am not more Ethiopian he is just a Saudi citizen perioed. As for Libya they are free and finding their way after forty years of abuse, it will take a while to wash away the stink of that evil man, how I wish our evil dictator faced the same justice as Gadaffi, it would have been a warning to the next userper to watch out being sodomized with a pistol is a real possibility! Give it up my man we are hip to one ethnic group rule.

  3. Dawi
    | #3

    Brother Yelma,

    Well Woyane/EPRDF already built or in the pipe line to be done such as roads, power generation, rail are the envy of other African countries. Kenya & others are still using roads built in the colonial era.and they are detriorating. I say giving credit where credit is due is a good thing. Off course money has to be borrowed or accumulated through taxes, that is a given.

    Chinese contractors do most of the roads. If most sub contractors are Woyane supporters, it is because they support the state but they are still Ethiopians not foreign. The state is a developmental state based on the vision of Meles. All Developmental States favor their supporters everywhere else. That is how they strengthen themselves particularly in the beginning. They will loosen up later. They will loosen up faster in all areas if opposition like you stop becoming hell bent towards their short term practices. Meles passed the torch to Hailemariam and has shown merit is what counts not taxonomy. Others will follow suit in my opinion and gradually everything will reflect the diverse ethnic group of Ethiopia.

    When contractors like Salini brought the funding for the Gibe Hydro project while the “Arabs and environmentalists” sabotaged other source of funding, the government didn’t bother putting out a bid. I don’t know about you, as an Ethiopian I would have given the contract to Salini hands down as well. Other developmental funding that comes only from one source when others refuse, should be dealt with the same way if you ask me.

    You are right ISP is controlled by the government because they are still insecure. I think ESAT & others should be allowed to broadcast. I don’t understand why they don’t allow that. A lot of the things ESAT reports are taken from the Reporter and I don’t understand why the government has a problem with ESAT in particular.

    Cell phone is a cash cow as a business and keeping it as a national company will benefit us, if we can buy the technology to run it ourselves.

    The positive effect of FDI in the Beer factories is influencing or creating a malt production sector, export aportunity of malting barley, Heineken requires high quality barely and we have the land to grow and engage the farmers to provide the input; so the spill over effect of the FDI in the brewing sector will be huge.

    Ethiopians can start Micro breweries with quality barley, at the result of the spill over and you have seen how big a micro-brewery can grow starting from a small garage here in the USA.

    Tej/Tela and Woyane? I don’t know but, if you don’t threaten the Developmental State and you are a “lematawi Negade”, meaning don’t work in overthrowing them they won’t bother you. That is a requirement in developmental states all over. If you are in business in just Tej/Tela and creating jobs you should be ok. Off course, that doesn’t mean corrupt officials don’t exist in Woyane land. We should all fight corruption where ever we see it.

    Violence breeds Violence. I think we should all work towards non violence transition.

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