When I read Ethiopia will host the World Economic Forum (WEF) in January 2020, I was stunned, speechless.
I thought, “Could it be a misreporting?”
The WEF in Ethiopia?
Barely ten months ago, the world had written off Ethiopia to the doomsday of ethnic civil war.
They said Ethiopia is down for the count. Ethiopia is DONE!
In despair, even I announced to the world, “Ethiopia teeters on the edge of a precipice. Time is running out for Ethiopia and the point of no return is at hand.”
The only thing you need to do to join Team Abiy is Medemer!
To dramatize the Apocalypse, I even “invented” a hypothetical “Doomsday Clock” for Ethiopia and declared the clock had struck 11 p.m., just one hour away from Doomsday. I frantically pleaded, “We need to turn back the clock 12 hours.”
“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”
On April 2, 2018, Abiy Ahmed came as a joyous daybreak on the Ethiopian horizon with a message of peace, forgiveness, reconciliation, brotherhood and sisterhood and ended our long night of captivity in ethnic apartheid.
I told my readers, “With Abiy Ahmed, we are today witnessing an Ethiopia rising. Behold, Ityopia’s Tinsae.”
Today, Ethiopia has risen from the “pit of destruction and out of the miry clay and set upon a rock” to become the host of the 2020 World Economic Forum.
That made me so proud as it should every Ethiopian.
But like everything PM Abiy does, I can’t figure out how he managed to convince the WEF to have its summit in Addis in 2020, something that had never been done outside Davos.
He has done so many impossible things, we are left scratching our heads.
How did he manage to heal the 27-year old schism (division) in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church?
How did he bring reconciliation and peace among divided Ethiopian Muslims?
How did he get President Isayas Afeworki to the peace table and reattach the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood between the people of Ethiopia and Eritrea?
It is obvious the word “impossible” does not exist in his dictionary.
In Davos, PM Abiy made possible another impossible.
According to reports, PM Abiy Ahmed had a conversation with Prof. Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of WEF at the 2019 WEF summit in Davos, Switzerland and it was a done deal.
Hosting the WEF is a Big Deal.
The WEF is best known for its annual summit in the third week of January in Davos, in the eastern Alps region of Switzerland.
This year some 3000 top tier global business leaders, civic society leaders, academics, captains of arts and culture, journalists along with international political leaders – from President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan to Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe—got together for four days in Davos to discuss the most pressing issues facing the world today.
Then the BIG News: The WEF will be held in Africa, particularly Ethiopia, for the first time since its establishment in 1974.
I take great pride in the fact that Ethiopia has been chosen as the venue for global leaders to come and discuss problems and solutions to the pressing social, economic and political problems.
My head is still reeling.
How is it possible for a nation declared dead and left in the pit of destruction and miry clay barely ten months ago to be chosen to host the premier forum for world leaders?
What did world leaders see in Ethiopia in ten months that many Ethiopians have not been able to see?
Could it be that the world is now seeing what I saw ten months ago?
Could it be that they are seeing an Ethiopia rising like the sun over the African continent?
What is amazing is the fact that previous regime leaders who attended the WEF for decades and wind bagged about double-digit economic growth earned nothing more than polite contempt.
In 2012, the late leader of the former regime in Ethiopia managed to snag a WEF Africa version.
He shocked the WEF attendees by telling them:
In my view is there is no direct relationship between economic growth and development historically or theoretically. But I don’t believe in this nighttime, you know, bedtime stories and contrived arguments linking economic growth with democracy. There is no basis for it in history and in my view no basis for it in economics.
The late ignoramus leader of the previous regime had swallowed hook, line and sinker the “China’s Model” (“Beijing Consensus”) of authoritarian state capitalism as a governance and development +model for Ethiopia.
That phrase-mongering regime leader called it “developmental state”.
He used to rage against “neoliberalism” (“Washington Consensus” a set of ten policies supported by the U.S. and the international lending institutions including fiscal discipline (limiting budget deficits), increasing foreign direct investments, privatization, deregulation, diminished role for the state, etc.) in defending and spreading the horse manure of his “developmental state”.
Of course, his half-baked “developmental state” was a self-serving but futile attempt to justify maintaining his ethnic apartheid system in power perpetually in Ethiopia.
“The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose,” wrote Shakespeare.
That late leader was manifestly unaware of the academic literature on democracy and economic growth.
The fact of the matter is that based on “empirical results based on a panel data of 144 countries observed for 1980–2014 show that democracy had a robust positive impact on economic growth.”
It shall be remembered that I have for years demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubtthe double-digit economic growth figures of the former regime were completely fabricated. I called it voodoo economics.
The double digit growth figures were lies, damned lies and statislies (statistical lies).
But why waste any time on the dead and gone to…?
Pearls before swine, jewel in the African crown
For decades, Ethiopia, the pearl of Africa, was a pearl before pigs.
“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast neither throw your pearls before the pigs, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”
For decades, Ethiopia was left at the mercy of the lords of war, division and hate.
For the last 27 years, Ethiopia was known as place of woe, the land of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
For the last 27 years, Ethiopia became known as the beggar nation of the world.
Until PM Abiy came to office, Ethiopia had become synonymous with famine, war, disease, mass incarceration, massacres and crimes against humanity and corruption.
The land of “13 months of sunshine” had become the land of 13 months of darkness.
Today, light has driven out the Forces of Darkness in Ethiopia. They are today holed up in darkness where they belong.
Under PM Abiy, Ethiopia is no longer the poster country for government wrongs.
In ten months, PM Abiy has transformed Ethiopia into a poster country for human rights and civil peace.
That is why the world (World Economic Forum) is beating a path to Ethiopia’s door.
The world is now acting on what it had known for so long but had kept silent.
Ethiopia is the jewel in the African crown. There is no doubt in my mind about that!
The decision by the WEF to have its annual summit in Addis Ababa, in my view, is affirmation of what has been empirically and scientifically established. “Democracy has a robust positive impact on economic growth.”
With multiparty democracy in the offing, Ethiopia is poised for economic growth and as an engine for regional and continental economic transformation.
PM Abiy has made respect for and protection of civil liberties and human rights the hallmark of his administration.
He has emptied the country’s prisons of political prisoners, invited those deemed “terrorists” to return to the country and peacefully compete for power and has made good on his pledge to use dialogue and discussion to solve political problems and differences in the country.
Where civil liberties and human rights are respected, economic growth and development follow.
I am prepared to defend the proposition America is great (not in a Trumpean sense) because of its Bill of Rights.
Without the First Amendment, there would have been no Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs’s innovation was the result of free market of ideas guaranteed under the First Amendment.
China could not produce a Steve Jobs. “There are too many restrictions and interventions for the growth of great innovators like Jobs.”
But they can easily clone him as they have little respect for intellectual property rights.
When people are free to express themselves, they engage in the exchange of ideas which is the crucible of innovation and entrepreneurship. Freedom of expression is not only central to economic development but also human progress.
In a multiparty democracy with an informed electorate, the government fears the people instead of the other way around.
With the rule of law institutionalized, free and fair elections held, the rights of the individual protected, property rights respected and government operating within a system of checks and balances will inevitably promote foreign and domestic investment in physical and human capita and promote stability by reducing social conflict.
Let us all help Abiy Ahmed as he does the heavy lifting for Ethiopia
I make no apologies for my strong and unwavering support of PM Abiy Ahmed.
I have made my position clear in my April 8, 2018 commentary.
But I wish to make the general case why all of us should give him our full support as he does the heavy lifting to lift Ethiopia out of decades-long corruption, human rights violation and bad governance, which some people expect him to solve in just a few months.
Here are a dozen reasons why we should give PM Abiy our full support:
1) He is the youngest African leader, at 43, of the oldest nation in Africa. He is a role model for the estimated 75 percent of Ethiopians are under the age of 40. A young nation deserves a dynamic young leader, not old geezers who are washed up.
2) He has changed Ethiopia beyond our wildest expectations. A year ago, today, who would have thought all political prisoners in Ethiopia would be set free?
3) He has made peace with our neighbors, a fact once deemed to be impossible. Ethiopia and Eritrea are at peace. South Sudanese president Salva Kiir and rebel leader Rieck Machar are trying to solve their problems peacefully through the intervention of PM Abiy.
4) He has brought honor and dignity to Ethiopia. For the first time in decades, there are no journalists in prison in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is no longer known as the “fourth worst jailer of journalists in the world.”
5) Under PM Abiy’s administration, for the first time in nearly three decades, Ethiopiawinet is not a crime. Journalism is not a crime.
6) For the first time ever, Ethiopia is undergoing fundamental change in a nonviolent political process.
7) For the first time ever, under PM Abiy’s administration, exiled political leaders, dissidents and others who were regime opponents were welcomed with open arms and treated with dignity and allowed to freely participate in the country’s political process, including establishing political parties and running for office.
8) He has announced plans for large-scale privatization of state-owned monopoly enterprises and liberalization of several key economic sectors. For instance, the state monopoly Ethio Telecom is a den of thieves and corruption. As a result, only 3.7 percent of Ethiopians have access to the internet, one of the lowest penetration rates in the world. By comparison, South Sudan which came into being in 2011 and lacks most basic government services, has an internet penetration rate of 15.9 percent.
9) He has undertaken radical security reform by removing military involvement in politics, dissolving regional militias (Liyu forces) and retiring dozens of useless “generals” and other military “officers”.
10) He has signed international agreements to ensure landlocked Ethiopia will not remain landlocked. He signed agreement with the governments of Djibouti and Sudan to take an equity stake in the Port of Djibouti and Port Sudan and reached an agreement with the government of Kenya to build an Ethiopian logistics facility at Lamu Port.
11) He has launched prosecutions of dozens of officials on corruption and human rights violations charges.
12) Above all, PM Abiy brought a peaceful end to a nearly three-decade long system of ethnic apartheid in Ethiopia.
As President John Kennedy said, “Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past – let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”
Ethiopia has a bright future with Abiy Ahmed.
That is why the WEF is coming to Ethiopia in January 2020. They want to bathe in Ethiopia’s sunlight.
A while back, I wrote, paraphrasing a line from Shakespeare, “Some are born leaders, some achieve leadership, and some have leadership thrust upon them.”
I believe Abiy Ahmed is a man upon whom fate has thrust leadership responsibilities.
Every day, he meets and exceeds our expectations.
Every day, he proves to the world that he is a transformational leader. He knows what changes are needed in the short- and long terms. He has a vision to guide that change. He inspires the people.
All PM Abiy needs now are team members to do the heavy lifting required to transition Ethiopia from the land of ethnic apartheid to the land of the free and home to all Ethiopians in their glorious diversity.
The only thing you need to do to join Team Abiy is Medemer!
Welcome to Ethiopia WEF in 2020.
Posted by: Alemayehu G. Mariam