Dark secrets of foreign investment in Ethiopia and tears of the poor By Nathnael Abate

April 22nd, 2014 Print Print Email Email

The rapid growth of world economy has resulted in strong partnership between countries, multinational companies and cooperates. This made the greatest gateway for international companies directly to involve in foreign investment process in the labor cheap countries. Since cheap labor forces produce very high profits. In most developing countries the priority of government is self-enrichment by all possible means but not fulfilling the interest of public. For sake of their own benefits both government and foreign cooperates increase the bond between them overtime. Eventually these foreign companies become the head masters of government because they nurture government with a lot of cash and the corrupted regimes are happy to have it in their pockets. Now the government is spokesman and servant of the companies or cooperatives rather than being the protectors of citizens. Cooperates controlled government will take all the measures against its own citizens in order to protect the interest and benefits of the foreign corporates, specially the dictator regimes such as the regime of Ethiopia

Foreign investment by itself has no adverse impact on any society as long as it does not harm or violate the interests and tradition of locals, indigenous and citizens of the country where the investment takes place. But in most cases foreign investments in developing countries have suppressive, exploitative and long lasting impacts on the lives of local people. For example, foreign investments are highly destroying lives of indigenous people in western and southern Ethiopia. The Government is forcibly displacing the indigenous communities from their ancestral lands in order to supply land for foreign and local investors. These areas were rapidly being converted into commercial agricultural investment centers. The government is depriving small scale farming, pastoralists, fishing grounds and other life sustaining activities of indigenous people in the area.

The corrupted TPLF regime backed transnational cooperatives in Ethiopia indirectly confiscating the land and other natural resources that have been home and food source for indigenous community for thousands of years. Interlocked partnership among the regime of Ethiopia and transnational companies have no short or long term benefits to the local community or the country. Industrial and agricultural products produced by these firms will be exported to other countries and profits will be transferred to home of their origin. Money from land lease or sell, tax and other sort of shares will furnish the pockets of dictator juntas. It will not benefit by any means the local communities. There are also violent tactics used against the locals (including rapes, intimidation, murder, harassment) as well as lack of consultation, compensation, legal redress and derogation of national and international laws intended to protect indigenous and pastoralists communities’ rights to own and use resources. In south Omo valley about 86% of land was occupied by the investors which used to be farming, hunting, fishing and grazing ground for natives. The successive Ethiopian regime has never cared for dark skinned Ethiopian indigenous people in south Omo valley and in Gambella (west Ethiopia) rather they were all referred as a second citizens and sub humans.

The selling and leasing of land that is home for native tribes in Gambella and South omo had severe consequences on locals. Many families were scattered searching for food, water and graze land and these interdependent tribes become hopeless and helpless. In the name of investment hidden corruption chain has taken newest paths in Ethiopia since recent years. In this corruption chain some participated directly and others indirectly. For instance the fertilizer potash company called YARA which is owned by Norwegians gives about 30% of its profit to Ethiopian regime. The interplay between the Yara and the Ethiopian Regime is that, YARA supplies the fertilizer to the regime and Ethiopian Government force farmers to use the fertilizer and pay for it. If the farmer is not willing to use the fertilizer soon he loses his land. Improper use of fertilizer could permanently damage the soil and the current use of fertilizer in most part of Ethiopia is improper. Government only focuses on selling large quantity of fertilizer and gaining profit from it but not the future severe consequences.

The symbolic human right guardian western rich countries which are also political, economic and social partners of dictator regimes increased and continued their aid for further deterioration of poor lives. Western foreign aid budgets are used as a driving force of human right violations in Africa particularly in Ethiopia. This devastating hidden exploitative system is wiping out poor, indigenous people, local communities, peasants, pastoralists and is causing permanent damage to land and other natural environment in the area. For large scale agriculture wide area of forest is cleared and which in turn increases massive emission of Co2 in to local climate. In addition to forest clearing also Ethiopia regimes main strategy of renewable energy source what is so called hydroelectric dams (“Reservoirs [created by large dam projects] are a significant contributor to climate change, and that hydropower schemes in some cases may have a greater impact on global warming than fossil fuel power stations.” ) . In South Omo, Gilgil Gibe and some other parts of the country many people were displaced without any compensation from their homes and property for dams’ construction. Research suggests that organic matter, decomposing vegetation and soil, in shallow reservoirs in warm tropical areas emits large amounts of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere and that even after the vegetation is fully decomposed, gases continue to be released. And yet hydro development is promoted as a ‘green’ alternative to fossil fuel.

The south and west Ethiopia natives are paying price for non-self-benefiting and biased development policy of the government. They are forcibly displaced from their ancestor’s grave land or possessions. This people have very little employment room to be employed in newly introduced sectors and sometimes may have access to physical labor with very low payments and bad treatments .Those employed in the sector are from Tigray and other regions. These communities are plunged further into poverty, environments are destroyed and irreparable harm is caused to this indigenous community.

There are also many houses of poor and shelters being demolished and demolishing going on in bigger cities(In Addis Ababa and regional cities) to sell the land without compensation for those who owns the land or shelter on the place. According to the December 26, 2013 report of Zegabi, people whose houses got demolished in capital Addis Ababa said “They (government officials ) did not even [allow] us enough time for [the] evacuation” with sorrow in their eyes and extreme fatigue on their face. “They immediately started to plow down all the houses with bulldozers for no consideration. All the houses turned into dust and rubble right there in front of our eyes. The place we used to call home was no more, a barren land in its place.” I enquired if they were given prior notice of the demolition. Their heartfelt and emotional answer was “They had told us that this place was going to be removed and plowed down three or four months ago. But there was no legal notice. It was just word of the mouth. And we were always asking for places to be given to us. And the people at the concerned offices always said that at one time one of the officials wasn’t around to decide or at another time the map for the place was not prepared. And now they are telling us to wait for our answers living outside. What kind of justice is that? There is no where we can apply to to get justice. The Sub city administration will not do anything for us and we have been trying to ask the Red Cross for help but it’s all bureaucratic.”

The land which is taken away either from the indigenous people of far rural area or poor of the cities will be sold to foreign investors or domestic riches. The money from selling and leasing land will be in the pockets of woyane officials to make their life joyful while leaving behind tears, sorrows, homelessness and poverty to the indigenous and poor people. They (our rulers) made us poor. We are crying and they are laughing.

Writer`s contact nathanialoret@gmail.com
Tweeter @nathysaint and facebook nathy de saint.
God bless Ethiopia

  1. Suliman
    | #1

    [Nathnael Abate,]

    It is over due we need to start to shoot straight. Please don’t take it personal what I said in this comment is not directed against you but at our collective ways of doing business.

    Ethiopia has been in great need of help from her children for the last 22 years. There is nothing new under the sky for what we collectively have been saying for the said many years. It became also clear it does not take a planetary scientist to figure why thing are in the way they are. If we have to get anywhere we need to acknowledge the fact that we as a people have failed our responsibility. It takes honest evaluation of our political posture to go forward.

    Blaming weyanes and foreign corporations alone and constant evaluation of their policies for decades will be a mere ideal chat.
    Remember, things are the way they are because these international powers have put out the opposition out of the game. Tell me if you have any clue why these powers would like to work with traditional, nationalist political groups? While they can have full control of the third worlds , through an open door policy, by putting traitors like weyanes at the center of power?

    Although it will be very hard to generalize most of our people including this writer are self-seeking hodams and traitors. We know what is needed is a consorted effort to be united and challenge these illegitimate powers. Instead, we spent our valuable time writing about the ills of their policies. It is not for lack of knowledge that the people are suffering rather for lack of moral fortitude to stand up and fight. Consider this; suppose you lost your job what must you do in order to feed your family? Pray and ask God to open a door for you then go hunt for a job. You don’t sit there and be mesmerized by the ill news of the economy ,and in a weird way feel you have to make assessment and evaluate be for you decide to go and apply. Apply the same trick to the Ethiopian political situation. Instead of getting in to solution seeking task very much every one of us feel we must produce an article regarding these powers. Twenty years of such empty enterprise is a misplaced expectation.

  2. Dawi
    | #2

    Nathan,

    This article is similar to Prof. Al’s recent write up [btw - why do we not see Prof. Al's articles here anymore? Afraid of comments? :-)] opposing the GERD and supporting IRN. You guys seem to subscribe to the Voyeurs of the world unite! propaganda; probably you have lived in the West for too long?

    Be that as it may, for any Ethiopian who saw that pathetic Gibe 3 dam video made by IRN on their web site trying to persuade us why the “native” way of life in the OMO valley should be preserved forever and Dams/irrigation being built now should be rejected is laughable to say the least.

    What you call the way of life is the poor scraping dirt with bare foot herding some skinny cows and sorting a bunch of tiny fish not worth much for the eye let alone for the stomach. What is there to preserve IMO is only your Voyeurs imagination, nothing more. You want our poverty way of life in Africa to remain for ever so that the place stays to be a heaven for voyeurs.

    Other than that, you and others like you don’t recommend an iota of practical suggestions that have a substance to alleviate our existing situation. Yet for me, it becomes obvious that such opinion only sides with Egypt that has her population of 98% access to water mostly flowing from our land. You guys want us to remain in the dark, poor, thirsty and the laughing stock of humanity forever by encouraging us to sit on our asses in poverty on abundant resources that the Egyptians & others lived off comfortably for centuries.

    What is your alternative against poverty? Nada.

    If Prof. AL, IRN and others like you can’t find many Ethiopians joining your chorus of such delusional crusade against us is because we know better; we just can’t believe that you people have the audacity to criticize a developmental state’s projects that is fighting poverty against all odds, with little outside financial help particularly by building the GERD that all Ethiopians expect to eventually to substantially alleviate Ethiopian poverty for good. GERD is documented to be able to earn 4 million dollars a day when it is fully operational.

    Yes, you & others talk of some special environmental studies nonsense to be done until kingdom come! and demand the GERD & Gibe 3 dams construction be halted while you study how much water should be let go out of the dam to sustain the existing flora and fauna? Are you serious??

    In the mean time, you are willing to pair with Egypt to extend our extreme poverty for a much longer time to come while you write up crap after crap in your lighted room drinking coffee with sugar and a full stomach.

    You should be ashamed of yourselves.

  3. aha!
    | #3

    This article fits into the modular perspective of exploitation, economic and political strangle hold of the countries resources and its silent majority of Ethiopians by TPLF/Political, TPLF/EFFORT, TPLF affiliated enterprises, cadres and foreign corporations particularly with respect to land with eviction of indigenous populations and environmental degradation.

  4. 5TH GRADER
    | #4

    IF WE HAD A FUNCTIONAL GOVERNMENT WE WOULD NOT HAVE NEEDED TO GET INVESTMENT FROM ANYONE.

    ETHIOPIA’S GOVERNMENT GOT A BUDGET OF $$$$$$$$$$ 8 BILLION DOLLARS FOR THE CURRENT YEAR.

    OUT OF THIS $$$$$$$$$$ 8 BILLION DOLLARS,
    3 $$$$$$$$$$ BILLION DOLLARS WAS FROM THE REMITTANCE THE DIASPORAS SENT BACK HOME.

    $$$$$$$$$$ 4 BILLION DOLLARS WAS FROM THE DONORS GOVERNMENTS AID, MOSTLY WITH INSTRUCTIONS ON WHICH PART OF THE COUNTRY TO SPEND IT ON AND WHAT TO DO WITH THE MONEY . .

    SO THE ETHIOPIAN GOVERNMENT GOVERNING 80 MILLION + PEOPLE PITCHED IN ONLY 1 $$$$$$$$$$ BILLION DOLLAR TO THE CURRENT BUDGET WHICH IS ALMOST NOTHING COMPARED TO WHAT THE PREVIOUS GOVERNMENTS USED TO RAISE WITH WAY MUCH LESS WORK FORCE , LESS FOREIGN AID AND LESS REMITTANCE.

    ACCORDING TO THE ETHIOPIAN GOVERNMENT’S SPIES REPORTS, THE ETHIOPIAN PEOPLE ARE MOSTLY DISREGARDING THEIR OWN GOVERNMENT AND BEING GOVERNED BY SMALL VILLAGE LEADERS , FOREIGN BUSINESS MIDDLEMEN AND WAR LORDS.

    “THE WARLORDS AND VILLAGE LEADERS ARE THE OBSTACLES FOR THE ETHIOPIAN GOVERNMENT TRANSFORMATION PLAN.”THE ONES THAT WERE EXPECTED TO MOBILIZE THE PEOPLE FOR THE GOVERNMENT HAD FAILED COMPLETELY. EVEN IF THE PEOPLE WERE SEEN SHOUTING WE WILL MAKE MELES ZENAWI’S VISION BECOME POSSIBLE TIME AND TIME AGAIN, THEIR ACTION SHOWS OTHERWISE.THE VILLAGE LEADERS CHOSE TO KEEP THEIR OWN TO THEMSELVES DUE TO LACK OF ANY SIGN OF UNITING ACTIONS IN THE PART OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SO THE PEOPLE REGAIN FAITH IN THE ONE ETHIOPIA GOVERNMENT.

    EVENTHOUGH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TRIES TO PRESENT ITSELF AS IF THEY ARE IN FULL CONTROL OF THE COUNTRY THE FIGURES ARE ALARMINGLY SAYING OTHERWISE LEAVING THE FEDERALS WITH NO CLUE ON HOW TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE SO FAR PER THE OFFICIALS.

  5. Worku tesfaye
    | #5

    Some truth is reported.but it exaduration ze problem wich critized hide some benefits of western Ethiopia pasturalis.
    In benishangul gumz i saw some village wich has displaced.zy hv more free farm land.even zier land is enough for zem and invester.zy were dispersed and difficult to get health and school facilities.
    Now any facilities accesed at nearest resettlement area.if zy develope skills how to plough,ze hv enough remained land.
    I did not see gambela.but in benishangul no more exaggurated problem due invester.

  6. Daniel
    | #6

    Dear Ethiopian brothers and sisters please help me, I am given an opportunity to travel to east Africa for work business reason, and in process I have decided to extend my visit to travel to Ethiopia to visit where I grew up (Addis),but in the mean time I would like to travel where the hydro dam that is being constructing in Northern part of Ethiopia, which I never been before, so if you have any suggestion where the best hotel and resort area where I can stay during my visit will be very handy. I promise to bring you guys video record images and authentic photo pictures and testimonial stories from my experience.

  7. Tom
    | #7

    @Daniel
    What stupid article. He must have been one of those Dergue’s communist ideologue. He claims our “leaders made us poor”. Really? Ethiopia was poorer before these government came to power. This person should go back to school and learn the ABCD of international relations and international economies. Moreover tell us your solutions instead of be*ching like that demagogue Prof Al.

  8. Hope
    | #8

    Daniel,
    Any hotel, but not Hilton, Sheraton and all the hotels that are owned by TPLF lebas. Best wishes.

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