Ethiopian Business Review

In early June 2018, the Ethiopian government announced it would allow domestic and foreign investors to take stakes in Ethio Telecom, the state-owned telecoms firm and Ethiopian Airlines, the state-owned carrier. Other state-owned enterprises (SOEs) up for grabs are Ethiopian Power and Maritime Transport and Logistics Corporation. The state would still retain majority stakes in them, however. Regardless, it is a huge change in policy. In a speech to parliament in June, Abiy Ahmed suggested that any sale would be gradual, however; over 10 to 30 years. He was probably being mindful of political sensibilities. A serious plan could not be that long winding certainly.

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“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest,” wrote Benjamin Franklin. A fervent advocate for public education, and a founder of libraries, schools, and the University of Pennsylvania, Franklin viewed education as the foundation of human progress. If he were alive today, he would be horrified by the state of education in developing countries – and he would most likely be backing the International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd) proposed by the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, led by former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

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The current democratic movement that has engulfed Ethiopia must be supported by economic reforms and democratic system. The two are intimately connected: you can’t have one without the others. Democracy is the best form of government for economic progress. But if the economy is not improving, the flag-bearers of democracy among the populace will make U- Turn. The Ethiopian youth do not “eat democracy”; at the end of the day they need jobs, income, food and housing for themselves and their dependants.

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