Why the Economist wants to meddle in Ethiopian domestic politics

(E. Dawud)

The Economist, with more than its 2 million weekly subscribers, is one of the best informed news magazine in the world. Even with its naïve European view, for several decades, it writes some wonderful analyses about contemporary political economic problems and challenges that the world has faced every week. However, in its May 2015 fourth weekly publishing, it tries to put forward a very unusual piece of writing about Ethiopia. The writing is below par and it was marred with factual fallacies and baseless accusations and woeful conclusions. The very shameful once are (1) the denial of the very clearly seen and loudly heard realities about the Ethiopian economy and (2) making strange claims about domestic politics of the country based upon wild guesses and factually devoid statements.

Based up on a number of global media accounts including financial times, which is owned by the same publishing company that also owns The Economist Magazine, in 2015 the Foreign direct investment flow into Ethiopia will reach a record of $1.5 billion and many predicts the country to rank among Africa’s top four manufacturing hubs by 2025. It is also in short distant memory that the country received $1.2 billion in FDI in 2014, in which in 2011 it only was not more than $700 million.

Needless to say, Ethiopia has been and also predicted in the top three largest recipient of FDI in Africa. Even the magazine itself lavished praise for Ethiopian government and its robust economist performance on many occasions. However, The Economist in its fourth weekly of May 2015 described this magnificent progress in attracting FDI as “dim” and claimed the foreign investors are deterred from coming to Ethiopia.

The government’s main priority is industrialization. But endless red tape and restrictions on finance deter investors…. And the prospects for attracting desperately needed foreign equity capital remain dim.

Therefore, is it not blatant denial to describe 25% increase in FDI as dim? It is a secret for nobody that the Economist and rich financial and telecom companies backing the magazine are day dreamingPhoto - Addis Ababa at night about the soon to be 100 million population market potentials of one of the fastest growing countries in the world. Even understanding its neo-liberalist world view, such brutal denial of globally appreciated economic performance would be below par reporting from The Economist.

Not only about the FDI performance of the country, The Economist also put forward what it seemed very much inaccurate claim about Business/industrial parks, as being built in unsuitable locations. It is hilarious; can we say Addis Ababa, Hawasa, Dire Dawa, Kombolcha, Mekele are unsuitable locations or just The Economist writers write about Ethiopia but do not know about these cities?

However, what left me amazed about The Economist piece of writing is, its strange conclusions about domestic politics of the country based upon wild guesses and factually devoid claims. It labeled the regime as it has always been divided. It even insulted ministers as incapable of decision making and accused old comrades of EPRDF with bizarre claims. It even goes further and tried to ridicule the security officials by calling them as a law unto themselves; even worse it accused the government for lack of courage. It didn’t stop there, it single out ethnic Tigrayans, as controlling everything in the country and mock by saying it will take at least another decade for them to retire or die.

For the moment it felt like reading an article written by those Ginbot-7 or OLF sympathizers, not from the “so called” best informed news magazine in the world. Actually who knows as all writers in the magazine are anonymous, the writer can be one of the barking friends of those sympathizers in UK. However, it is very much unscientific and uneducated to label a government “a divided regime” and its ministers “incapable of decision making” while the world is applauding its remarkable efforts in driving out the country from centuries old poverty in lightening pace. Actually the writer itself also knew such a claim is baseless and an outrageous lie, as it also praise the government for discipline and administrative sophistication.

Anyways, even though, the magazine appears both authoritative and credible for a great number of the Western world’s most powerful people, in territories and subjects where we are reasonably informed about (like the our FDI record, industry parks or how the government works), The Economist found itself in the wrong side. The question remains why The Economist come up with such outrageous and baseless allegations about Ethiopian politics days after the country conducted its 5th election successfully.


Guest Author

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