ETC: Twelve jailed, the “Sacrosanct” ex CEO Still at large – Ewnetu Tessema

December 16th, 2007 Print Print Email Email

We know this repressive regime is pursuing us with force, hostility, etc., in order to capture us. (more…)

We know this repressive regime is pursuing us with force, hostility, etc., in order to capture us. The regime is “determined” more than ever before to silence all dissenting voices. We know we may pay the ultimate price if caught by the monsters. As we are humans, it worries us a lot. We are afraid, but not very afraid. We are afraid when we try to picture mentally, especially as a some sort of worst case scenario.

We are obviously afraid when we envision of our fate in the hands of the butchers. However, we are not very afraid for we know history and destiny has assigned us to engage ourselves in this activity, whatever it takes.

This oppressive and corrupt regime of Ethiopia did arrest twelve ex officials of ETC last week and this week. This is what they set out to do and they have now all the twelve of them. Some three or four of them were taken in for questioning at the air port while trying to leave for USA and Europe . Many agree their trip was a recurrent annual or bi-annual trip. Many, including the writer of this article, agree the real culprits are still at large both at home and abroad. Some nine or ten of the twelve who are now under police custody were simply called on to report to the Central Crime Investigation Unit better known as “MAEKELAWI”. They did as instructed. Now, all the twelve wanted by police have landed in jail. The police argue that all the twelve have put their signature on those scandalous purchase contracts. The Anti Corruption Commission argues likewise. The crucial question here is who else, save those dismissed from their job for refusing to comply with the illegal order, has not put his /her signature on those appallingly scandalous and reprehensible purchase contracts? Above all, it is the ex CEO who should be for the most part responsible. The ultimate responsibility rests on the ex CEO. If an HRD boss landed in jail for putting a signature on a scandalous, reprehensible and a disgraceful contract; how about the ex CEO who traveled all the way to the company’s Headquarters to negotiate the purchase agreement and as well signed it? It is the CEO who should sign all major contracts pursuant to the binding law of the land in Ethiopia today. If a major contract involving Millions of USD is signed by another official, other than the CEO, that major contract is null and void. So much so, when it comes to responsibility, the whole responsibility in all cases rests on the ex CEO. The deputies and other middle level managers can only be responsible as co-defendants. The fact that deputies and other low level subordinates are held answerable whereas the CEO is not held responsible for all the scandalous contracts worth nearly $3 Billion USD should go in history as the 8th wonders of the world. If a non technical staff landed in jail for putting a signature on scandalous purchase documents just as a Member of the Management Committee; how about the ex CEO who did make the technology selection and fired from job those who refused to put their signature on those scandalous purchase contract now solid evidences of the police and the prosecution to prove corruption? If a finance chief landed in jail for effecting payment as per the unambiguous and written order of the ex CEO; how about the ex CEO himself who issued that illicit order and as the result of which billions of dollars unlawfully disbursed?

The entire ETC employees are earnestly and unwearyingly looking forward to see what is going to open out next.

It is to be recalled ETC did spend nearly $3,000,000,000 USD /Three Billion USD/ on purchase alone from 2002 –2005. The telecom gadgets purchased are now unashamedly discarded as either obsolete or of inferior quality. We, employees of ETC, uncomplicatedly raised objections to the bulk purchase decision. We tried to make the government aware that bulk purchase in telecom technology is not wise even in a situation where first class quality gadgets are purchased. The Government of Ethiopia right away wrote us off as political antagonists and vested ad nauseam administrative power in the ex CEO, Tesfaye Biru. The upshot was so much illuminating that all the projects botched. In particular the billing software project caused a big outcry. ETC squandered nearly $30 million Ethiopian Birr for the purchase of the integrated billing software from an Indian company called USHACOM and the South African Dimension Data. At present, it is the Chinese billing system which is on the verge of being fully operational as per the Vendor Financing Agreement with the Chinese telecom company called ZTE. The Chinese billing system has not yet become operational so far. The Indian Ushacom billing system is still, though in a staggering and jumbled manner, being used for fixed telephone lines, cell phone and internet. The over 60% ETC subscribers’ complaint against the unabated implausibly exaggerated bill in all ETC’s services is a non stop episode and the present management of ETC is wrestling with it on a daily basis. The pre ushacom system called AS400 simply has got an operating system and of course the hardware component too. The programming component was developed in-house and ETC’s previous IT specialists had that capability of giving it a dynamic touch in terms of periodically updating it as and when found necessary. All the ex IT department gurus are dismissed or forced to resign by the ex CEO. ETC is now forced to retain the old in house developed AS400 as a back up when and if the currently operational system totally fails to produce bill for customers. Unfortunately, the majority of those gurus are no more with the ETC. The Chinese telecom company overtly told ETC officials that the nearly $30 million Ethiopian Birr worth Indian software has to be discarded hundred percent very soon. The two ex ETC officials directly responsible for the purchase of the nearly $30 million Birr worth billing software are the ex IT department chief who absconded to the USA about a year ago and surely the ex CEO of ETC, Tesfaye Biru. I strongly urge readers to read my article under the title ‘ETC SUFFERING FROM KLEPTOCRATIC CORPORATE GOVERNANCE’, which was written about two years ago. This article perfectly makes very clear how the corrupt practice was perpetrated on the purchase of the billing software. The article is available at our popular and very widely visited website:

Apparently, Tesfaye Biru is a “sacrosanct” and he is still at large untouched. The Government has not bothered itself even to interrogate him, be it as a witness or as an accused/suspect. The ex CEOs whereabouts is not known at present. Some say he is freely roaming in the streets of Addis. If that is the case, one can simply speculate the modes-Vivendi between the two criminals.

The Chinese vendor financer {ZTE} is now providing all the necessary equipment for all the services. The vendor financing arrangement involves $1.5 Billion USD. Please read an excellent article by Hailegaber Sibhatu ( under the title ‘ETHIOPIAN TELECOM AND THE CHINESE SYNDROME’. The article is available at our popular and very widely visited website:

Many telecom experts, including the writer of this article, did without delay express concern over the ex CEO’s haphazard and shoddy style of management and the fallacious procurement procedure chaotically utilized by him at the time.

The other perplexing question is how about the ex Board Chairman, Getachew Ayele, who is now the head of the EPRDF business empire, EFFORT, and the other ex Board members like the head of the intelligence unit and Hailu Ayele, who was even working as an acting Board Chairman on numerous occasions? All the purchases worth $3 Billion USD and now regarded as scandalous and disgraceful were concluded while the above guys were active members of ETC’s Board of Directors. These persons have explicitly and unequivocally approved all those purchase contracts. Why is the government reluctant to press corruption charge against these persons? WHY? It is indeed a perplexing question.

Some four five years ago, say in 2002, the ex ETC Board Chairman, Getachew Ayele, purchased a satellite antenna for $26 Million Ethiopian Birr when he was the Minister for the Ministry of Revenue. The $26 Million Ethiopian Birr worth antenna bought by the direct advice and recommendation of Tesfaye Biru and a company called NCR became incompatible with ETC’s Sullulta C band earth station as the item purchased was a KU band antenna. I strongly urge readers to read my article under the title ‘ETC: Mother of All Corruption’. The article is available at our popular and very widely visited website:

To let the KU band antenna operational one had to establish another Sullulta type satellite earth station. This was/is unthinkable in the foreseeable near future. Tesfaye Biru was swift to come on the rescue of Getachew Belai. Tesfaye Biru ordered the ETC warehouse managers to issue a receiving report for the KU band {$26 Million Ethiopian Birr worth} antenna as though purchased by ETC itself. It Means ETC bought a useless gadget and in turn bought a new C Band antenna to be used by the Ministry of Revenue. In a nutshell, the ex CEO of ETC spent $26 Million Ethiopian Birr worth C band antenna to cover up a scandal and the antenna was given to Getachew Belai’s Ministry of Revenue free of charge. The KU band antenna bought by Getachew Belai for $ 26 million Ethiopian Birr is still dumped at the famous ETC warehouse. I visited the warehouse very recently and found out that the antenna has become totally useless even if we could someday, before the dooms day, establish a KU band satellite station. I guess this “always worth remembering “act of kindness”” has earned the ex CEO an ardent patron who would go to any length to shield the indefensible.

Ewnetu Tessema can be reached for comment at

  1. Gelaw
    | #1

    ETC Board Chairman is not Getachew Ayele ratehr Getachew Belay.

    The Chinese vendor financer {ZTE} is not providing the necessary equipment rather, the company is evading the countries money. Please don’t advocate this company as good. It is a kind of colonilist.

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