Ashenafi EndaleJuly 15, 202113

Zemedeneh Negatu is currently Chairman of Fairfax Africa Fund, a US-based firm engaged in investment banking and private equity financing in sub-Sahara Africa, including Ethiopia. He is also one of the promoters of the under-establishment Selam Bank which intends to disburse ETB200 billion as mortgage loans to finance 100,000 housing units in its first five years of operations. EBR sat down with Zemedeneh to discuss the endeavors of Selam Bank and the challenges it expects to face.


Ashenafi EndaleJuly 15, 20219

Vera Songwe is the UN Under-Secretary-General and 9th Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), becoming the first woman to lead the institution in its 60-year history. Many portray her as a reliable ally and pathfinder as Africa aspires an economic union. Capable and hardworking, she is navigating uncharted territory while trying to mold a strong economy out of Africa’s weak institutions and imperfect politics. She is also going the extra mile in convincing western nations to give pandemic relief.
The Cameroonian holds a PhD in mathematical economics from the Center for Operations Research and Econometrics, a master of arts in law and economics, and a diploma of advanced studies in economic science and politics from Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium. She also holds a B.A. in economics and political science from the University of Michigan. Prior to ECA, she held a number of senior leadership roles with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the World Bank.


Ashenafi EndaleJuly 15, 20218

Nejib Ababiya, Founder and Chairman of Rift Geothermal, is currently developing an initial 300 MGW power plant with TMGO and Corbetti in Ethiopia. With his over 30 years of leadership experience especially in the mining and energy sectors, he founded Allana Potash, a company engaged in potash production, which he later sold to Israel Chemical, one of the largest potash and specialty chemical companies in the world. Nejib, born in Jimma, Ethiopia and migrated to Canada in 1979, has also founded other companies engaged in mining and energy. His current project with the company TRI is due to start construction of its gold mine in northern Ethiopia. Ashenafi Endale of EBR spent time with the serial entrepreneur to gain insights.


Ashenafi EndaleJune 15, 202161

Brook Taye (PhD), Senior Economic Advisor to the Minister of Finance

Brook Taye (PhD) is part of the pragmatist team serving Ethiopia’s swift economic reform and privatization process with great zeal. After concluding his education in comparative law and economics and high growth firms in three European universities, he worked as a regulatory analyst for an equity firm in Miami and other companies.
He argues that the telecom privatization which garnered a lot of interest only ended up with two bidders mainly because they failed to fulfil the requirements. He in fact claims that only four of the 12 interested bidders fulfilled requirements. He also argues the shift from state-led growth to a private-led one is not the result of Western pressure to liberalize the economy but a dire necessity to revamp and create a sound economy. The following are excerpts from EBR’s time with him.


Ashenafi EndaleJune 15, 2021219

Ambassador Birgitte N. Markussen, is Head of the European Union Delegation to the African Union as of September 2020. She has previously worked as Director at the European External Action Service (EEAS), beginning 2016 and also as Director of the Africa Department at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Her office in Addis Ababa is currently working on a range of packages introduced to strengthen the relationship between the two neighborly continents. With pressing issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic and migration, Markussen delves passionately into peace and security, investment and development, and even the future integration of the two continents. She argues a strong Africa is essential for a strong Europe. Addisu Derese, special to EBR, sat down with Ambassador Markussen. Excerpts follow.


Ashenafi EndaleJune 15, 2021538

Mekonen F. Kassa is Senior Director for cloud cyber security engineering at Microsoft company where he has worked for about 22 years now. Living in Seattle, he earned his first degree in mechanical engineering and second degree in information systems management from Washington University. Prior, he worked as a consultant and taxi driver.
After witnessing the politically-led massacre of nine of his teenage friends in his birthplace of Gondar 37 years ago, he fled to Sudan traveling on foot for fifteen days. Escaping from the Amracuba refugee camp in Sudan, he worked as a daily laborer on commercial farms, as a servant, and on other jobs in Algadari and Khartoum. After four years in Sudan, he found Ethiopians who sponsored his move to Seattle 33 years ago. He recently flew back to his hometown to inaugurate the library he built for his old elementary school.


Ashenafi EndaleMay 15, 202181

Fikadu Digafe is Chief Economist and Vice Governor of the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE). He strides in the most laboring job in the central bank ever since the bank started baptizing itself with reforms ensuing the landslide reshuffle of October 2019. He was previously in charge of external economic analysis and international relations at the bank. For many years, Fikadu has been engaged in the research works of the central bank, including scripting for the quarterly bulletin of the bank, Birritu.


Ashenafi EndaleMay 15, 2021118

Mekuanint Alemu is Founder and Board Chair of C&E Brothers Steel Factory, which has been engaged in the production of reinforcement bars for the last ten years and mining exploration over the last three years. He recently established YO Trade and Manufacturing PLC, a sister company and the only large-scale coal producer in Ethiopia. It is currently installing a coal washing plant in Ethiopia allowing it to eliminate coal impurities using water, some chemicals, and mechanical techniques. The plant is expected to start operations after five months. EBR sat down with Mekuanint to learn about his recent ventures.


Ashenafi EndaleApril 15, 2021630

Atnafu Gebremeskel (PhD), is an Assistant Professor of economics at Addis Ababa University and an executive member of the Ethiopian Economics Association. In December 2020, he published a study entitled “Inflation Dynamics and Macroeconomic Stability in Ethiopia” in which he identified key sources of inflationary pressure in Ethiopia through the analysis of commodity price changes observed between 1997 and 2020. It became a timely reference and antidote as inflammatory inflation breaks loose since January.
Atnafu argues the actual permanent inflation rate in Ethiopia during the study time was 38.9Pct, driven by expansionary monetary phenomenon, though government has been underreporting inflation at 15Pct annual average. This problem of denial is keeping the solution at bay. Apart from the persistent as well as immediate causes, Atnafu stresses market responds by increasing price, whenever ineffective government is in charge. EBR sat down with the leading expert on Ethiopia’s inflation dynamism, conversing on his findings and its ramifications towards stabilizing current price hikes.


Ashenafi EndaleApril 15, 2021529

Lensa Mekonnen is assigned to lead the Land Bank and Development Corporation (LBDC), the latest SOE established just eight months ago. The corporation audited 3,700 hectares of landholdings under federal institutions and enterprises—constituting 5.2Pct of Addis Ababa’s 54,000 hectares.
The corporation has embarked on a state-led property development endeavor and is already attracting world-class developers and financers towards developing housing projects, convention centers, seven-star hotels, tertiary hospitals, and specialized education centers on 30 prime locations identified in Addis Ababa, including the redevelopment of Ghion Hotel. The LBDC will indulge in a minimum 20Pct equity share in the projects, to be developed under a build, operate, and transfer PPP modality. The corporation has also identified government districts where public institutions will be relocated to in a clustered fashion.
Given the land scarcity in Addis Ababa, LBDC’s efforts are a relief for investors with cash looking for prime locations, although Lensa says international developers are given priority. Yet, her agility in availing public holdings to private developers is showing results faster than previous governmental processes towards land provisioning, where land is owned by the public and government and is very scarce as hens teeth in the market.

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