Follow us on Twitter


 News Feed

 Column Feed


Follow us on Twitter  Twitter


























Gov’t Exports Quality, but Imports Rot

Ever since the days of the Emperor, it has always been said that Ethiopia has the potential of becoming the bread-basket of Africa; if only it develops its enormous agricultural potential. Instead, it is importing the unhealthy and inferior palm oil while at the same time it cannot provide the basic food stuff the populace requires at reasonable prices.

Read More



Rent Gouging Landlords in Need of Checks

Dear Editors,

The Ethiopian government is committing a serious mistake in its failure to institute targeted controls on house rents in Addis Abeba.

Rent control is usually critical where there is serious shortage of housing; such as the case in Addis Abeba since landlords tend to take unfair advantage of the shortages.

New York City, for instance, has instituted rent control because building owners were gouging renters due to housing shortages immediately after WWII. To this day, the city applies well targeted rent control to ensure affordability of housing while also making sure new developments are not stifled.

It accomplishes this by targeting older buildings for rent control, buildings built in the 1940s, 1960s, and 1970s. This ensures new developments are not subject to the control, in a bid not to undermine newly developed commercial and residential real estate development.

The Ethiopian government should also institute rent controls on older housings in Addis Abeba to stop the incredible rent gouging. There is no economic rationale for owners of older buildings to charge huge amounts for rent, as we are seeing in Ethiopia today.

Should the Ethiopian government place rent control on all buildings built prior to 1991, this measure would largely solve the problems of renters in the capital without stifling new developments.

This issue is a critical issue for the country. Rent in Addis Abeba has gone through the stratosphere.




Nearly 40pc Pay Increases, Not Invisible?

Dear Editors,
The news story headlined, “Expensive salary increments almost invisible,” (Volume 11, Number 562, February 6, 2011) was biased and unprofessional. The reporter chose to only include the statements of people against the wage increase, either because it is allegedly too small, or will increase inflation too much.
This is not balanced reporting. The reporter could easily have found civil servants who are very happy about the size of the salary increment. She could also have talked to experts who would have told him the wage increase, in a well functioning market, should not create any significant inflation, for the impact on the overall economy is too small due the relatively small number of government employees.
To say that a nearly 40pc wage increase is invisible, is ludicrous. If those in the private sector received a 10pc raise, it is considered large, for most increments amount to five per cent or less. I expected better from the reporters of this newspaper.


United States



Handing out Public Property

Dear Editors,

The one-sided feature headlined, “One man’s rubble another’s treasure,” (Volume 11, Number 562, February 6, 2011) prompted me to write this piece.

The monies unlawfully made by the MSEs belong to the Ethiopian public. If such unjust practices of funnelling public treasure continue in the same manner, their ramifications will bring about the protests erupting around the globe.

The sale by tender and transfer of houses up for demolition have apparently been taken by the Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs).

Who are they? How did they coerce the wereda administration into playing this part without crafting secret deals behind closed doors?

The seizure of political power and the wrong application of public goods and services are utterly unacceptable. Encouraging embezzlement, fraudulent acts, corrupt practices, and acts of quid pro quo adds insult to injury. The wereda administration should not remain myopic in discharging their responsibilities which may bring about unforeseen and bitter circumstances.

We are a long way from witnessing the end to the social ills and malaise that gnaw at the marrow of the populace, despite the incumbent’s efforts to decimate the ills and bring equity and fairness to the people.

Tadele Alemu W. Mariam



Forgiveness unsurprising when inspired by beliefs

Dear Editors,

As the public debate on whether or not to forgive the imprisoned former Derg officials lingers on, we are being treated to all sorts of wayward opinions.

Read More



Infrastructure Monuments for Sore Eyes of Poverty Stricken

Dear Editors,

The EPRDF has been claiming that it achieved continued economic growth over the past seven years. It has been declaring its success through the local media in a bid to inform the international community of its presumed achievements.


Read More



Gov’t Discouraging Ethiopian Involvement in Farming

Dear Editors,

Everyone has been discussing the spiralling inflation for some time; then, suddenly, the price caps were dropped on the public like a bombshell.

Read More



Derg Officials’ Imprisonment Lenient Punishment for Artocities

Dear Editors,

It is truly shocking and outrageous to see the son of Aserate Kassa (Prince), one of Ethiopia’s well-known and distinguished personalities, appeal for forgiveness on behalf of imprisoned former officials of the Derg regime, in his views headlined, “Forgiving, not forgetting, in pardoning convicted Derg officials” (Volume 11, Number 557, January 2, 2011).

Read More



Forgiveness to Heal Wounds of Anger over Derg’s Misdeeds

Dear Editors,

The fact that leaders of different religions took the initiative to engage in a series of consultations with the public to secure pardons and subsequent releases for former officials of the military regime who were convicted of crimes against humanity is good news; it will ensure the release of my uncle and it is better late than never.

Read More



EDP’s Liberal Economic Principles Only Rhetorical

Dear Editors,

I read your editorial note headlined, “Unwise throwing of good money after bad to serve populist purposes results in Greece,” (Volume 11, Number 557, January 2, 2011) with great interest.

Read More



Gov’t Overspending to Achieve Misery

Dear Editors,

Your editorial headlined, “Unwise throwing of good money after bad to serve populist purposes results in Greece,” (Volume 11, Number 557, January 2, 2011) reminded me of the Ethiopian saying that goes, “Yetegebe leterabe ayaznem” (someone who is sated does not feel sorry for the hungry).

Read More



Celebes Bore Public with Mediocrity

Dear Editors,

Mediocrity takes all forms and obviously abounds in every culture. As varied as it is, mediocrity is often confused with excellence in Ethiopia. This is exactly what happens around “celebrities” who divulge opinions falling on the blurred line between mediocrity and conventional wisdom, a form of mediocrity I call “season less.”

Read More



Ethio Telecom not Building Sustainable Pool of Indigenous Telecom Management

Dear Editors,

I read your interview with Debretsion G. Michael, minister of Information and Communications Technology (MoICT), December 12, 2010 (Volume 11 Number 554).


Read More



I have Money, but I Cannot Use it

Dear Editors,

Sometimes, what we take for granted is not what we think it is. Take, for instance, the issue of foreign currency in coin form. The value of a paper dollar bill could be equal to the value of 100 dollar cents.

Read More



Taxing Significant Majority in Poverty

Dear Editors,

In the editorial headlined, “Encouraging measures to boost national savings, not sufficient” (Volume 11 Number 555, December 19, 2010) it is stated that “Why not increase the ceiling for the income tax exemption to 500 Br and lower the percentage progressively for the remaining.”

Read More



Underhanded Scheming Underfoot

Dear Editors,

I read, in the Letters to the Editor section, a very interesting comment on the ongoing privatisation of Meta Abo Brewery by the Privatization and Public Enterprises Supervising Agency (PPESA) headlined, “Dominant Industry Player Threatens Industry Competition” (Volume 11, Number 553, December 5, 2010). 

Read More




Dominant Industry Player Threatens Brewery Competition

Dear Editors,

A couple of issues were brought to mind by the news story headlined, “Int’l Firms to Submit Proposals for State Brewery,” (Fortune’s Volume 11, Number 550, November 14, 2010).

I learnt that the invitation was made by the Privatisation and Public Enterprises Supervision Agency (PPESA). Among the firms invited to submit proposals for the joint venture (JV) acquisition of the state owned Meta Abo Brewery is BGI.

Read More



Fingerprints for Tax Trip Too Much to Ask

Dear Editors,

An expert from the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority (ERCA) had an interview with the Voice of America (VOA) about the ongoing discussion between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and the ERCA on a possible arrangement to take the fingerprints of taxpaying Ethiopians in the Diaspora in the United State (US).

Read More



City Admin Running Amok with Developers

Dear Editors,

I applaud the editorial headlined, “City Authorities Have None But Themselves to Blame” (Volume 11, Number 550, November 14, 2010).

Read More



Sound Alarm for Constitution Violation

Dear Editors,

I would like to air my views in a responsible manner as a follow-up of your editorial headlined, “City Authorities Have None But Themselves to Blame,” (Volume 11, Number 550, November 14, 2010) which I read with keen interest.

Read More



Incredible Acceptance of Rights Watch Report

Dear Editors,

How can you be so wrong when you write in your editorial headlined, “Senseless Back and Forth Following Rights Critique, Unconstructive,” (Volume 11, Number 548, October 31, 2010) that, “Better Business Bureau (BBB) attests to HRW not only meets its fundraising, expenditure, and financial accountability standards, but also its quality and accuracy standards in information it releases.”

Read More



Report Pretext for Government Criticism

Dear Editors,

Do not be an opportunist. When people at Human Rights Watch (HRW) fire a bullet or two at the government, do not fire a thousand. Do not be a follow-up commentator.




Lack of Libraries, Reading Culture Hurt Potential

Dear Editors,

Public and private libraries are scarce in this country. Readers, who are scarce themselves, have a hard time obtaining the books of their choice. The youth are more content with bits and pieces of information, especially that of an entertaining nature, than in-depth analysis of issues of importance for the betterment of our desperate situation.

Read More



Local Media to Report Gov’t Abuse, Not Cheer Unbalanced Rights Watch

Dear Editors,

I just read your editorial headlined, “Senseless Back and Forth Following Rights Critique, Unconstructive,” (Volume 11, Number 548, October 31, 2010). I felt like you diminished my enthusiasm for your newspaper by pouring cold water over my head.

Read More



Chamber Finds Procurement Process Sound

Dear Editors,

To date, Fortune has covered the Addis Abeba Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations (AACCSA) in a number of stories, the great majority of times in a fairly balanced way.

Read More



Dev’t Bank Yet to Approve Strategic Plan

Dear Editors,

The front page news story headlined, “Dev’t Bank Discloses Five-year Strategic Plan,” (Volume 11, Number 546, October 17, 2010), raised recent developments within Development Bank of Ethiopia (DBE).

However, the story contained some misleading information in claiming that “DBE’s management board approved the strategic plan sometime in August.” It should be corrected as being a provisional strategic plan which has not yet been approved by DBE’s management board.

Ababu Kassa

Acting Manager, Business Promotion and Communication Process of Development Bank of Ethiopia (DBE)



Awash VP Initiates Resignation

Dear Editors,

Fortune’s radar news story headlined, “Awash Int’l Bank VP among Rumours,” (Volume 11, Number 546, October 17, 2010), stated that Eshetu Fantaye resigned from his position as vice president for Corporate Services "over a disagreement with the board of directors, sources close to the bank disclosed to Fortune.

Awash International Bank is not aware of the identity of “these sources close to the bank” from which the information was obtained. The vice president’s resignation was not a result of “a disagreement with the board of directors,” as stated in the newspaper, but was initiated by him and his request was accepted by the bank.

We request that the newspaper correct the factual error. We hope that the newspaper will be more cautious regarding the accuracy of information it reports pertaining to our bank by obtaining required information from officials who are authorised to disclose information of the bank.

Such officials will normally disclose information on the record, thereby helping the newspaper to avoid referring to anonymous sources as “sources close to the bank.” We believe that the newspaper should ensure that the information it disseminates is always correct in order to maintain its reputation.

Abebe Deressa

Manager, Planning and Business Development Department 

Awash International Bank (AIB)



Science Ratio Plan Shaky, Implementation Needs Reforms First

Dear Editors,

There are good and bad news circulating among private institutions at this moment. The good news is that the Ministry of Education (MoE) is to relax some of the stringent measures it took a little over a month ago.

Read More



Kudos to Girma Wake

Dear Editors,

In Fortune’s article headlined, “Ethiopian CEO Leaves Legacy as Airline Takes Off,” (Vol. 11, No. 544, Oct. 3, 2010), the writer, Hailu Teklehaimanot, fails to mention Girma Wake’s prior three decades of service to Ethiopian Airlines (ET) from the 1960s to the 1990s.

Girma’s prior knowledge and experience with ET operations are what enabled him to steer the company on a profitable course upon his return in 2004. 

Only 10 years prior to his return, Girma was part of an exodus of senior management from ET, due to controversial period under Seyee Abreha, then acting chairman, who fired and replaced dozens of senior ET management members. Those were dark days for ET, with senior management who gave decades of service being fired without pension or a means to support their families. 

Girma Wake’s return and leadership of ET is not only a success story but also vindication for the former unsung heroes of ET management. A job well done, and best wishes on a well-earned retirement!

Selamta B.



City Needs Lasting Solution to Cemetery Crisis

Dear Editors,

Reading Fortune’s article headlined, “Exhausted Burial Ground Forces Remains out of Graves,” (Vol. 11, No. 544, Oct. 3, 2010), I am struck by the persistent lack of progress by religious leaders and government authorities in finding a lasting solution to inadequate burial plots.

Read More



ETC Deserves Criticism, Not Recognition

Dear Editors,

I was baffled to read an unwarranted reply from the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) headlined, “ETC Deserves Recognition,” (Volume 11, Number 543, September 26, 2010). ETC demands recognition in this reply letter.

I believe such an act is only possible because there is no authority that regulates the malaise ETC has created, and that the corporation has the guts to criticise a newspaper that reported the concerns of many thousands of subscribers.

Managers at the ETC and the responsible government agency whose job is to regulate them should be criticised for making Ethiopia the least developed nation in ICT and telecommunications services by all the Indexes of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), and the GSM-Association.

The criticism should extend to the company: having stifled innovation, new ICT services and growth of new telecom service provider companies through its monopoly; destroying the capacity development training facility, the CTIT; holding Ethiopia hostage to foreign experts; telling the lie that CDMA 1X (EVDO) is a next generation (NGN) technology; and destroying the independent regulatory function of the Ethiopian Telecommunications Agency (ETA).

The consequences are that there are no checks on the quality of network service, while customers complain. ETC deserves criticism.

My heartfelt appreciation to the newspaper, for making the voices of subscribers heard.

A Reader




Good Example by Shipping Lines, New Institute

Dear Editors,

I read your news story headlined, “ESL Charts Future with Landlocked Maritime Academy,” (Volume 11, Number 543, September 26, 2010) with interest. The state owned Ethiopian Shipping Lines (ESL) wants to train and develop indigenous human capital in the maritime and marine engineering fields.

Despite the landlocked nature of Ethiopia, such investment in training and education guarantees long term and sustainable growth for the maritime industry and the services it can render to the Ethiopian society. It is an initiative that ought to be recognised and applauded.

I do hope that other organisations such as the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) learn from ESL and Ethiopian Airlines that development of indigenous expertise is a necessity for the long term ICT development and sustainability in the country.

Astewaynew Grum

Nairobi, Kenya



Excellent Editorial on Education

Dear Editors

Your editorial headlined, “New Blanket Education Policy Throws out Good with Bad”  (Fortune Volume 11 Number 542, September 19, 2010) was not only superbly written but also well-timed and is right on the nail.

Read More



ETC Deserves Recognition

Dear Editors,

This is in response to Fortune’s coverage headlined, “Connectivity Malaise,” (Volume 11, Number 538, August 22, 2010). The newspaper allegedly described that both the fixed line and newly launched code division multiple access (CDMA) wireless Internet connectivity, deployed by the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC), have failed to deliver on their promised speed and capacity, during peak hours, over the last two months.

Read More



Unconstructive Feedback for Award Winning Office

Dear Editors,

We, at the Documents Authentication and Registration Office (DARO), were happy to see a commentary by Yohannes W. Gabriel headlined, “Good-looking Notary Offices Fail to Serve Public,” (Volume 11, Number 539 August 29, 2010). We believe that feedback from the public is vital for our improvement.

Read More



Birr’s Adjustment Too Abrupt

Dear Editors,

The 20pc exchange rate adjustment on a basket of currencies on September 1, 2010, is a reasonable step to encourage exporters except that it caught market participants by surprise. As a result, we have observed arbitrary increases in prices. In some shops, trading was even at a standstill, until the dust settled.

Read More



Rent Seekers Prey on Vulnerable Consumers

Dear Editors,

A colleague of mine went to buy a plasma TV in one of the famous shops around Teklehaimanot. I had paid 10,900 Br for a 32-inch a month ago. My colleague decided to go for it; incidentally, it was the same day that the government officially devalued the Birr from 13.63 Br to 16.35 Br to the dollar.

Read More



Executive Action Self-defeating for Education Sector

Dear Editors,
In open societies, changes in government policies are usually predictable due to debates in public, preceding such changes. The legislative and executive organs are accountable to the electorates, and, hence, weigh their policy changes against the interests of their constituencies. Dissenting voices are also heard within a ruling party opposing a shift in policy in such societies.

Read More



Education Directive Hypocritical, Leads to Nat'l Crisis 

Dear Editors,

The news headlined, “Education Ministry Bans Distance Learning” (Volume 11, Number 539, August 29, 2010) is quite a surprise for many, and the directive, as it stands, smacks of hypocrisy, considering the fact that a considerable number of Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) leadership earned their degrees through distance learning.

Read More



Love Lively Debate on Advertisements, Lending Laws

Dear Editors,

I am delighted that Yohannes Woldegebriel and Liku Damtew (PhD) have debated on the laws of advertisement and usury. I just wanted to add my view on the subject by questioning what both have said and did not say.

Read More



Love Lively Debate on Advertisements, Lending Laws

Dear Editors,

I am delighted that Yohannes Woldegebriel and Liku Damtew (PhD) have debated on the laws of advertisement and usury. I just wanted to add my view on the subject by questioning what both have said and did not say.

Read More



Collective Cowardice Forsakes Noise Limits

Dear Editors,

Binyam  Idris’s view headlined, “Biggest Offender: A Mistaken Opinion” (Volume 11, Number 538, August 22, 2010) does  not seem to understand the meaning of freedom of religion.  Under the Federal Constitution, he is of course free to practice his religion, but this freedom does not mean that he is free to enforce his beliefs on others or demand that they participate in his rituals.

Read More



Health Sector, Research Institute in Dire Straits

Dear Editors,
It is true that our country is striving to get out of poverty. However, it is unthinkable to achieve success without competent organisations that are committed to live up to the public’s expectations.

One of the sectors that need reengineering and sustainable development is the health sector.
It is in this sector, which is full of black holes, that the nations’ only health and nutrition research institute, a.k.a. Paster, where I worked for a few years, lies.

Ever since its reorganisation in 1995, the institute has not performed anything of substance or satisfied its customers, members of the public.

It is only the tip of the iceberg. Mandela's famous phrase, “tragic failure of leadership,” to describe Zimbabwe's election aftermath, suits the current situation at the institute.

Euclid Tesema



What will Become  Ethiopia’s Next Generation ICT?

Dear Editors,

Lack of management and technical expertise at the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) is once again in the news. A good initiative undertaken by the previous ETC management was to start the College of Telecom & IT (CTIT) for indigenous human capital development in the areas of information communications technology (ICT) management and next generation networks.

Read More



Quality of Education Calls for All Concerned

Dear Editors,

On your Letters to the Editors’ page (Fortune Vol. 11 No. 536, August 8, 2010), a certain Yirgalem wrote a ‘Systematic Approach to Quality Education.’ I wish the issue would attain nation-wide appeal to provoke scholarly debates. Unless there is a genuine discussion, which involves all stakeholders, the entire education system is sure go to from bad to worse.

Read More



Street Vendors Deserve Leeway

Dear Editors,

This is in response to your story headlined, “Vendors’ Struggle to Survive Invites Road Accidents” (Vol. 11 No. 536 August 13, 2010).

Read More



Rejection at Swedish Embassy, but Why?

Dear Editors,

My brother-and sister-in-law reside in Sweden. My wife and daughter had wanted to go for a visit for a short period of one month, upon the invitation of our relatives.

Read More



West Cares More about Resources than Rights in Its Support of EPRDF

Dear Editors,

This is in response to Andualem Aragie’s insightful viewpoint headlined, “West’s Lofty Rhetoric, Dangerous Miscalculation on Ethiopia” (Volume 11, Number 534, July 25, 2010) in the midst of the last death throes of the private press in Ethiopia.

The West’s current priorities, particularly those of the United States (US), are fighting terrorism and controlling Africa’s natural resources, the latter a longstanding neocolonial priority. In the Ethiopian context, this means fighting radical Islamists in Somalia and vying with China for control of oil and other natural resources in the Ogaden and Gambella.

Rhetoric aside, human and democratic rights are way down on its list of priorities, which is why the US is now supporting the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). As Andualem eloquently demonstrated, it is arguably the most cynically repressive regime on the African continent.


Read More



Systematic Approach for Quality Education

Dear Editors,

As the Ethiopian New Year is fast approaching, it is customary to put private higher education institutions in the spotlight. The timing is understandable seeing that the school year is to start soon. The irony is that those who are expected to regulate the sector have not been able to put the record straight and sort out the problems.

Read More



Election, Nat’l Politics Discourage People

Dear Editors,

The 2010 national elections came to an end with the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) securing a landslide victory over the opposition parties. Following the announcement of the provisional electoral results by the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), the EPRDF mobilised and mustered its supporters on the following day in the major towns of the country and trumpeted its victory while at the same time denouncing Human Rights Watch (HRW)for its harsh criticism of its conduct during the elections.


Read More



Claim against Ministry of Foreign Affairs Unfounded


Dear editors,

Last Sunday, Fortune carried a front-page story headlined “A Cry for Justice” (Volume 11, Number 533, July 18, 2010) concerning Askallukan Trading Plc, claiming that the company had defrauded hundreds of people over trips to South Africa.

In connection to this, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia was dismayed to see a suggestion that it had in some way endorsed the company.

The ministry would like to point out that it has never had any contact with the said entity at any time. It has never endorsed the company in any way, nor has it ever been asked to do so.

The ministry understands that Fortune was quoting persons demonstrating in protest against Askallukan. The reporter should, however, have checked with the ministry before repeating such unfounded and inaccurate claims.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Public Diplomacy and Public Relations Directorate General



Crime Rising, State Must Protect Its Citizens

I understand that most of the readers of this newspaper are in the upper strata of society, with their own fenced compound in a secure neighbourhood. I also know that the issues raised here mostly reflect the concern of these particular members of society.

Read More



World Cup or Life Cup More Important

At times of national or international events, whether it be political turmoil, macroeconomic instability, or socio-cultural changes, it tends to muster all the attention and focus of the majority of people.

Read More



Chez Fasil Clarifies Details

Dear Editors,

Please allow me to express my heartfelt appreciation for the feature headlined, “Fusion in Wining, Dining” (Volume 10, Number 522, May 2, 2010) on Pleasant Chez Fasil Restaurant & Bar.

I would also like to clear three points that were misstated in the article, which I believe need to be corrected at the earliest time possible.

It is true that I have over two decades of experience in hotels and restaurants in Europe and North America. But I did not say I worked as a chef in those places.

My culinary knowledge did not come from a formal education at culinary schools. Rather it came from the passion and curiosity I developed while working in Europe and North America.

I first met Marcus Samuelsson here in Addis ten years ago and not in New York as stated in the article.

Fasil Mengistu



EPRDF Learns from 2005 Debates


Dear Editors,

There are few weeks left until the fourth national elections. So far, the campaign is going well. The Ethiopian Television and Radio Agency (ETRA) has broadcasted eight debates that have shown the core policies of each political party, including the incumbent, the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

The incumbent is conducting its debates as a contender, and not as a governing party. The opposition parties have also been doing their best. But I found the incumbent to have been overwhelming in most of the debates.

If the EPRDF had done a similar campaign, including its debates, in 2005, we might not have paid as high a price during the turmoil that followed, or we might not have had such turmoil in the first place. Most of the demonstrators were ill-advised by the debates conducted by the opposition parties.

The EPRDF has not repeated the same mistake. I see the leaders from the party, such as Redwan Hussien, have debated overwhelmingly better than those from the opposition parties. I think this demonstrated a big lesson learned from the 2005 election.

Maseresha Brehanu (Teke)



Incumbent Deserves Constructive Criticism

Dear Editors,

I teach biology in a primary school in Addis Abeba.

I always read Ayenew Haileselassie’s columns. He often opposes, criticises, and ridicules what the government has been doing in bringing development to this country.

As citizens, we should admire the good things and constructively criticise the shortcomings and poor performances of the government rather than simply attack it. Our support and criticism for the government should be constructive and free from hatred, for it will bring no positive impact on the ongoing development of the country otherwise.

The right to speak and write guaranteed in our Constitution happens to be real during this regime; we ought to appreciate this. We all know how the 17 tragic years of the Derg passed without any development.

I do not see it fair to ridicule our infant democracy, which needs encouragement in its struggle to stand firm.

Mesfin Arage



Indecent Exposure Feeds Many Problems

Dear Editors,

I am interested in reading your lucid columnist, Lulit Amdemariam. I enjoy reading her eye-opening essays on often unnoticed issues from all walks of life.

In her last column headlined, “Eye Candy” (Volume 10, Number 521, April 25, 2010), she tried to show us how, unlike other cities, Addis Abeba offers neat and gorgeous people.

I see a developing trend that young people are denying themselves food and drink as part of their weight loss bid, hoping that they get a slim body posture regarded as the ideal body shape.

Lulit has exhaustively mentioned what we see on the streets, in cafes, and in restaurants are appealing to the eyes and give us a sense of fulfillment and peace. But I think Lulit has missed the other side of the ledger.

What we are witnessing with our naked eyes are men and women being enticed by indecent clothing styles which expose or suggest sexually tempting body parts. That is ungodly and alien to what is Ethiopian. It could have unforeseen social ramifications.

More often than not, beholders are tempted by what they see and get carried away to the point of no return. Its devastating aftermath should be obvious to anyone; widespread promiscuity, rising rates of teen pregnancy and abortions, the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, and the erosion of the family and home life.

While admiring the awesome beauty of men and women as creatures of God, one should never forget that any abuse of those gifts will not go unpunished. As a rule of thumb “Do not take a second look.”


Dawit Haile



Clarification on VAT

Dear Editors,

I recognise the government’s endeavour to give its citizens access to primary education, but I have a concern that the qualitative dimension does not seem to get attention.

I heard Demeke Mekonnen from the Ministry of Education say,  “Quality education can not be achieved instantly, it is something that would appear or occur in the endeavour to ensure quality education,” on a televised debate.

But I would argue that to attain quality education, we must be on the right road.

Primary school is the ground upon which basic education is based, so as to pursue quality. Students who come to primary school do so with a lot of problems in tow. So the task of a teacher is not merely teaching in class but avoiding any problems that could become obstacles to the teaching and learning process.

In order to avoid such problems, a teacher must have extra time allotted in their schedule to allow rest and personal activities in order to make a better living. This may include pursuing their non teaching education to get a high paying job and tutoring pupils at home to earn additional income.

Teachers are expected to provide solutions to enable students to become strong citizens. And yet the income that teachers earn from this career is not enough to make a living, even though the government grants rent allowances for teachers in the capital.

The government should make the profession of teaching primary school respectable by granting a good enough salary to the teachers, who play a huge role in ensuring quality education.

Should the government discharge its responsibility in this aspect, teachers will be able to carryout their activities wholeheartedly for sustainable quality education.



By Mesfin Arage



PM Not Mistaken about VAT

Dear Editors,

This is in response to Abebe Shitaye’s question in the Letters to the Editors section of last week’s issue headlined, “Clarification on VAT” (Volume 10, Number 520, April 18, 2010).

To my understanding, the Prime Minister was talking about businesses, not consumers, when he said that value-added tax (VAT) is calculated on added value. And this is true whether it is services or goods.

The hair dresser for example would not work for this argument because the VAT is paid by the customer. But if, for example, a subcontractor charges 1,000 Br for the main contractor on a certain project, and the main contractor adds a 100 Br margin (value) to this service, the VAT paid by the main contractor to tax authorities would only be 15 Br, 15pc of the added value.

This is simply because businesses are allowed to recover the VAT on goods and services they buy. I think the Prime Minister is right.


Melaku Missione



Voters Think Differently from Country’s Dishonest Politicians

Dear Editors,

Ayenew Haileselassie, a political columnist for this paper, wrote a piece two weeks ago headlined, “Democracy on Magic Carpet” (Volume 10, Number 519, April 11, 2010) in which he said, “... it is better that the EPRDF continue to stay in power than to have another chaos to wreck havoc in the country. That is a fear driven choice made in favour of the status quo, overriding the natural desire for change.”

I personally think that it is not about maintaining the status quo. Rather, we do not have honest and accountable opposition political parties that can shoulder the responsibility of governing this country.

We live in a society in which all transcendent values such as honesty have been removed from our politicians. There appears to be no moral standard by which anyone can say right is right and wrong is wrong. What we live in is, in the memorable image of Richard Neuhaus, “a naked public square.”

When the public square is naked, truth and values drift with winds of public favour. There is nothing objective to govern how we are to live together.

We are now surprised to discover that the Ethiopian political situation yields what is planted. When a politician is dishonest, no one will swarm alongside them begging for a scrap of conversation or a handshake.

Today, voters cannot be purchased in Ethiopia. That time has passed for good. To treat politics and morals separately is impossible.

What is honesty and dishonesty in politics? Someone, in a very brisk way, might pose a very blunt question: “Is it possible for a politician to be honest at all?”

During the national elections held in 2000, we stood like sheep in short lines, silent with no interest to vote. Many stood in queues quietly chewing on their fingernails. Five years later, the national elections changed this. People were more vocal when they were unhappy with aspects of the voting process.

Today, things have changed. We are more sober and sombre. We are better prepared to vote and more vigilant over the integrity of the election process than ever before. Even ordinary people know how the voting process is supposed to go. As history teaches us, political “gamblers” put competence to bad use. They are skilled but ruthless. The gambler’s close kin is the political “troublemaker,” who pursues his soaring ambitions by any means necessary, whatever the risks, regardless of the costs to others.

Remember the 2005 National Elections process? How many young people were pushed to “Kinijit’s mob politics” and paid unnecessary sacrifices to those desperado politicians?

Today, we are witnessing the neopolitical “fanatics” who are just as dishonest as they are blinded by the conviction that they are right in all cases.

The fanatic is inflexible and full of inertia, a steamroller ready to flatten everything in the way. We can imagine or even tease out these names from our opposition parties who are gamblers, dishonest, and fanatic.

The opposition parties in our political platforms are not only monopolising power, but their reformist or disgruntled factions have now also taken over the mantle of the opposition. Time will tell how they are really pariahs of Ethiopian politics.

“. . . it does not mean that we cannot identify honest politicians when we see them,” writes Kwasniewski. 

Immanuel Kant described two types of politicians.

The political moralist wants to “hammer out morality” in keeping with the requirements of politics construed as a cynical game. It is a label that easily applies to all the types of dishonest politicians I described.

The moral politician rejects cynical pragmatism but does not succumb to naïve moralisation.

An honest politician is someone who regards politics as a tool for achieving the common good. That is why actual governance is so often the best test of political honesty.

Do we now expect the outpouring of emotions that had accompanied leaders of the opposition parties whenever they visited their support bases?

I do not think so, for we, the voters, have begun to think differently from our blind politicians. The times have changed. What has not changed are our politicians’ ambitions.

Mekuria Mekasha
Teachers Instrumental for Quality Education



Clarification on VAT

Dear Editors,

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s response for clarification on the impact of value added tax (VAT) on the consumer, appeared before Parliament last week. This is not clear to me.

VAT is a tax calculated and paid on the added value, not on the total value, according to the Prime Minister. It seems he has forgotten that the application of VAT on the service value is not transferable, not perishable, not stored, and not visible. On the service transaction, VAT is applied on the total value and not on the added value as it is a ‘one-stop-transaction.’

For instance, if the price paid for the services of hair dressing is 150 Br, then VAT is calculated on the total amount and not on the hair dresser’s, say, 50 Br margin. The service sector is one-third of the economy and should not be neglected as such.

VAT is applicable on the total value on goods initially. It is only on the second, third ...  transactions that VAT is applicable and payable on the added value.

Have I misunderstood the Prime Minister?


Abebe Shitaye



Uncalled-for Attack on Tewodros

Dear Editors,

I am one of your readers online. I do enjoy your newspaper. I do refer it to friends and others who are interested in knowing about Ethiopia from all perspectives.

However, I was very disappointed to read a column by Ayenew Hailesellasie headlined, “Democracy on Magic Carpet” (Volume 10, Number 519, April 11, 2010). It has a paragraph that reads, “Today, we prefer to think of him as a hero who chose to kill himself instead of falling to the British. But, sorry to say this, I believe he was just a loser.”

I do enjoy Ayenew’s writings. However, to call Tewodros a loser was an uncalled-for attack on his dignity. I sincerely and respectfully ask your newspaper to remove the word “a loser” from your pages. I know your publication has a reputation to live up to.

Zewdu Mekonnen
Silver Spring, MD
United States



Gov’t Involvement Necessary for Economic Growth

Dear Editors,

I read the message by Aragaw Belay headlined, “EDP: History in the Making” (Volume 10 Number 519, April 11, 2010). The message is no different from the illusionary thinking of the rest of members of the Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP). Illusionary because it is mere ambition that does not consider the objective reality of our country.

Liberalism is a concept most related to the degree of government involvement in economic matters.  Liberals argue that governments role in economic matters should be limited; they term this as “small government”.

It is true that “small government” or liberalism may work in economically advanced countries where the market mechanism plays the crucial role in regulating the economy. In these countries, supply and demand revolve almost around the equilibrium.

Yet, the governments of advanced countries did not stop interfering in economic matters as observed in the United States and other European countries during the economic crises in economic sectors such as the financial and automotive manufacturing sectors.

Ethiopia is not an economically advanced country; but just starting to develop, if not, grow. The market mechanism is too weak to regulate the economic system.

Does Aragaw Belay mean that government involvement in economic matters should be avoided? Why would Aragaw’s party complain about the EPRDF when it comes to electricity, sugar, and cement prices? Did the EPRDF hinder businesspeople from investing in these sectors?

There is no problem with “big government” as long as it is democratic and developmental.

The EDP seems ambitious; although ambition and stretching have sometimes positive impacts in driving forward to achieve goals. But too much ambition is equal to illusion.

What is the relevance of comparing Obama’s election campaign agenda to the Ethiopian case? The two countries have no similar realities. We need visionary not illusionary leaders; and we need more pragmatic than conceptualist leaders. This is the secret to the development of China.

I think the problem of EDP members is lack of experiential knowledge. Their involvement in practical political and executive leadership is limited. Their perception of the world is straight. The world is like a ball on a smooth floor that one does not know which direction it moves after a slight touch.

Shitaye Kassa



ETC Buries Its Head in Sand

Dear Editors,

I completely agree with Getachew T. Alemu’s assessment in his commentary headlined, “In Age of Broadband, Ethiopia’s Education Remains Hostage to ‘Chalk’n Talk’” (Volume 10, Number 513, February 28, 2010).

By all the indexes of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) - ICT and Telecom Indexes, 2007/o8/09 - Ethiopia is categorised as least developed in Africa. Ethiopia and North Korea are the only countries which have yet to liberalise the telecom industry or are countries that deny the private sector the opportunity to invest in the telecom network and ICT services.

It is a pity that the information officer from the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) was still compelled to make his case and tried to bury his head in the sand in front of these glaring facts.

Asteway Abebe



Wrong Word for Hawassa’s Residents


Dear Editors,

I keep on enjoying my weekly “diet” of Fortune, which keeps me informed and inspired. Girma Feyissa's insightful commentaries are always an added pleasure. However, in Girma Feyissa's recent piece headlined, “City Built from Blue Prints” (Volume 10, Number 519, April 11, 2010) I happen to detect a malapropism, which goes to negate the gamut of Girma's line of thinking.

In his concluding remark, Girma Feyissa stated: “This is a metropolis that harbours people of all nations and nationalities.”

While I am more than happy to stand corrected, the word “harbours” is a malapropism, a misnomer of a word which gives an unintended meaning. One harbours a grudge and ill feeling. Or in its noun form, harbour is a shelter for the seamy side of society, hence, one could talk about a city becoming a harbour for criminals.

As Girma's otherwise flawless, “City Built from Blue Prints” has portrayed effectively, Hawassa (Awassa) has, indeed, become “the flagship” of nations, nationalities and peoples.

Mulugeta Aserate

Dublin, Republic of Ireland



Gov’t Has No Option But to Jam VOA

Dear Editors,

Your columnist, Ayenew H. Sellasie wrote in his piece headlined, “The Gathering Storm”, (Volume 10, Number 517, March 28, 2010) that “an extreme case is Meles’s public assertion that his government would jam the Voice of America (VOA).” Read More




Lack of IT Education Leads to French ETC Management

Dear Editors,

I believe that the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) has been handed to a group of French managers because existing managers are incompetent and the company has foolishly killed the capacity building College of Telecom and IT (CTIT). We chose instead to pay dearly for French managers. Read More

Asteway Girum



EDP: History in the Making

Dear Editors,

History is knocking on our doors. A political landscape bound with principles and standards for the Ethiopian Election 2010 is before us. Let us open our doors, our minds, and our hearts and speak our thoughts. Let us begin the debate. It is time for more honest debates to instil policy confidence into the electorate. It is when the public becomes perspicacious that they can buy the right policy.  Read More

Argaw Belay
The EDP’s Parliamentary Candidate



Loudspeaker War in Addis Abeba

Dear Editors,

I realise that with the elections just round the corner and with campaigning in full swing, the issue of noise pollution may not seem a priority, but I feel that it is in fact a democratic issue that must be addressed. Read More

Tony Hickey
General Manager
Ethiopian Quadrants PLC



ICT Liberalisation Not Answer

Dear Editors,

We have read the commentary by Getachew T. Alemu headlined, “In Age of Broadband, Ethiopia’s Education Remains Hostage to ‘Chalk’n Talk’” (Volume 10, Number 513, February 28, 2010), which criticised the telecom sector. Read More

Abdulmena Mohammed Hamza




Past Generation Has Greater Commitment than Ours

Dear Editors,

I would like to respond to a comment forwarded by Mersea Kidan headlined, “Failure of Past Politics: Dichotomous Thinking” (Volume 10, Number 517, March 28, 2010). In his response to B. Kassa headlined, “Win-lose Politics Leaves No Room for ‘Third Way’ ” (Volume 10, Number 516, posted on March 21, 2010), Mersea was unable to find any valuable, logically reasoned and sufficiently strong argument except his criticism of “that generation.” Read More

Samuel Zenebe



EPRDF Needs Diversity to Survive, Even within Itself


Dear Editors,

As a concerned citizen in the current Ethiopian political arena, I prefer the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) to stay in power and administer Ethiopia until such time that a strong, conceptualist, as well as potentially pragmatic opposition party is able to lead Ethiopia to prevail and mature. Read More

Belayneh Kassabelay



Earthquakes Cause Condos Construction Jitters

Dear Editors,

I am very pleased with the issue Samson Tesfaye raised in your  newspaper, published on March 14,  2010, headlined, “Earthquakes in Ethiopia: Preparedness Vs. Procrastination” (Volume 10, Number 514).

Seeing what happened in Haiti, I was concerned with the same issue. I understand that we are in a different geological and geographical location. We may not face the kind of natural threat we witnessed in Haiti. But what will happen if some natural catastrophe was to occur?

The reason I ask this question is to encourage the concerned body to give much more emphasis in connection with the way construction work is undertaken.

I do support the construction of condominium houses, but I remember people were concerned with the mushrooming condo construction – the way they are built.

Are they built properly? Do we have building codes suitable for earthquakes? How strictly are these building codes enforced?

I know that there are organisations and privately owned consulting firms assigned to do such jobs. But those engaged in the construction work and the people who are assigned to supervise quality control should listen to their common sense and learn to do the right thing for their people and country.


Kinfe Mulugeta



Earthquakes in Ethiopia: Preparedness Vs. Procrastination

Dear Editors,

Earthquakes occur in Ethiopia along the Rift Valley and its surroundings. A few notable past earthquakes include Kara Kore in the 1961, Serdo in 1969, and Dobe (Afar) in 1989.

The level of destruction of an earthquake, among other things, is a function of its magnitude and proximity to built-up areas. If an earthquake strikes a remote place, its impact would be negligible. However, if it strikes close to densely populated areas the impact could be catastrophic.

In recent weeks, the world has witnessed two major earthquakes – in Haiti (January 12, 2010) and in Chile, on February 27, 2010 – with totally different outcomes in terms of human and economic loss. The Chilean earthquake was a much stronger magnitude 8.8, while the Haitian earthquake was a magnitude seven.

However, the magnitude of destruction is significantly less in Chile than it was in Haiti. The number of lives lost in Chile is estimated to be in the hundreds whereas in Haiti it is in the hundreds of thousands.

Why such a disparity?

The answer is in the earthquake preparedness. Chile is a country that has been hit by major earthquakes in the past and has adopted strict building codes that would withstand a certain level of ground shaking, while Haiti did not. Unfortunately, the effect is reflected in the level of destruction and number of lives lost.

Earthquakes have happened in Ethiopia and will happen in the future, that is a given. The magnitude of the earthquakes, however, should not be as big as the ones in Chile or Haiti.

How prepared is the country in the event of an earthquake?

The recent construction boom in the country has seen the erection of high-rise buildings in Addis Abeba and other cities.

Do we have building codes suitable for earthquake prone areas? How strictly are these building codes enforced?

Earthquake preparedness also involves raising public awareness of the potential problem. It would be wonderful to hear from the appropriate government officials on the issue of earthquake preparedness in the country.

Which scenario will play out in the event of an earthquake striking a populated area in Ethiopia – Chile or Haiti?


Samson Tesfaye



High Time to Lower Tax on New Vehicles

Recently, there was a price decline in the used car market due to rumours that tax, on imported new vehicles, is to be scrapped. What aroused my tremendous interest in the subject and prompted me to write this is the high price of vehicles (used or new) which is unthinkable for many.

When considering the advantage of lowering taxes on new cars, a win-win situation arises for the general public and the country as well; especially in terms of the savings we all get by discouraging the import of used cars.

When we buy used cars, consider the disadvantages: these vehicles with an average age of 10 years and over 100,000km would incur additional costs in repair and foreign currency for their spare parts from the minute we import and start using them; they are short lived and would need to be replaced by another car; not to mention the cost to the environment; some of the accidents on the road would be because of the mechanical failure sure to happen.

In short, we are becoming the dumping ground of old cars for the wealthy European Union (EU) and the Middle Eastern countries.

On the other hand, the advantages of new cars are that they: do not require repairs or spare parts for years which saves our much needed hard currency; last much longer; and are safe to drive providing the owner peace of mind.

We should also remember that in order to buy a car somebody needs to save the whole amount and pay cash upfront – because financing for the purchasing of a car is non-existent. This reality makes cars out of reach for many who could be car buyers. Financing for new cars also has to be considered, by our banks, for people who would qualify.

Additionally, lowering taxes as mentioned above should be considered in order to introduce and encourage imports of electric cars. Electric cars may come in handy in light of: all the hydropower dam projects, the low cost of electricity in our country and the anticipation of all the excess electricity we are to have. This is in comparison to the unpredictable and unstable imported petrol which is drying out our foreign currency reserve.

So it is high time to consider scrapping some of the taxes on new vehicles; especially on electric cars and ethanol/ bio fuel vehicles as well.

By Ayenew Awole



A Demand That’s No More or Less

One dominating concern in the minds of those of us citizens of this country is the fear of prosecution from trumped up charges that can put us behind prison for years to come for matters that are only a figment of a wild state of imagination, as perceived by the powers of the day, as a threat to their authoritarian rule of uncontestable state power.

To prove the above assertion, the Prime Minister was in Parliament on Thursday, March 18, 2010; speaking with confidence, and exuding arrogance, that anyone who speaks out against the EPRDF government during this election campaign will be prosecuted after the May 2010 election. Why he wanted to wait until the end of the election period is anybody’s guess; I venture to assume that his effort is necessitated not to offend the donor community whose continued financial support is essential for the basic functions of his government to continue as a government.

What all this boils down to is the fact that those of us involved in the May 2010 election campaign have to choose between going to the state prison for speaking out the facts as we see it, or glorify the miserable achievements of the ruling party of the past 18 years for mismanagement, corruption, and poor governance, as a benchmark for all Ethiopian politicians to aspire to.

When we speak out for lack of checks and balances in the federal system of our government, it is to avoid this kind of supremacy of one branch of the government taking matters into its own hands, and acting with impunity, as the judge, jury, and prosecutor; infringing upon our natural and constitutional rights as citizens of this country. In a democracy, citizens, (leave alone candidates in a campaign), are free to speak their mind for or against the achievements of the government or lack of it, without fear of prosecution.

Although, freedom of expression is guaranteed in the Ethiopian Constitution; it is always exercised with caution and fear, lest we offend our ‘supreme leaders’, who wish to be worshiped for their unimaginative and incompetent governance of this country and its people in abject poverty for the last 18 years.

To make matters worse, I was watching a clip of the Prime Minister’s interview on the BBC, expressing his government’s intention to jam the Voice of America Radio that was being transmitted to Ethiopia.

What is going on?

We are already denied access to some website pages, and now the radio! It appears to me that the ruling party has reached an extreme state of paranoia that is dangerously close to exposing itself and the citizens of this country to greater calamity that cannot be remedied in years to come.

We have a Constitution that proclaims all kinds of rights and privileges of a democratic society to its citizens. In actual practice, though, we are being governed by the whims of those who are working day and night to shield us from the positive effects of democracy by way of harassment and intimidation for speaking out against authoritarianism and lack of democracy as guaranteed not only in our own constitution, but also that of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 to which our own country is a signatory.

In a poor country such as ours, to deny the populous the opportunity to have access to print and electronics media is not only a violation of the professed constitutional rights of the citizen, it is also to condemn the people of Ethiopia to an ever widening poverty, ignorance, and isolation from the benefits of science and technology that is freely enjoyed by citizens of the rest of the world.

Anything and everything we say during this campaign could be used against us. Our own response would be: our freedom and liberty cannot be objects of negotiation that we wish to submit to the ruling party for fear of prosecution. Come day or night, rain or shine, we are determined to live and die as free men with all our human dignity, constitutional and natural rights respected to the full extent of the law. We ask for no more and no less.


By Temesgen Zewdie
Temesgen Zewdie is a member of Parliament and the Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ)



I Can’t Believe I’m Writing This

Dear Editors,

I once heard about an incident that had driven Oprah Winfrey mad when she came to visit Addis Abeba. The alleged story had it that she was infuriated by customs officers at the airport, who apparently did not recognize who she was, for they ignored her while giving priority to other arrivals who happened to be whites; little did they know that they were her security personnel.


Read More



Bole Customs Frustrates Customers

Dear Editors,

I arrived at Bole International Airport on an international flight early on the morning of September 4, 2009. I had to seek Customs clearance for an exercise equipment which I had brought with me.

The clerk on duty in the ‘assessment’ booth did not seem to know how to locate the described items on the computer. This process took a long time. Altogether the process took almost 90 minutes due to the inefficiency of the Customs officers there.

Read More



Unshakeable Habit of PM's under Unoriginal Assault


Dear Editors,

I am writing after reading Lulit Amdemariam's column headlined, "Professor, PM" [Fortune, Volume 10, Number 503, December 20, 2009].

I respect and encourage the right of every Ethiopian to freedom of expression and thought. And it is heartening to see her and other members of the private press speaking out under often difficult circumstances. However, when it comes to the mainstream media, I believe there needs to be a minimum level of professionalism and ethics demanded - out of respect for the public and the subject involved.


Read More



Indians are Not Stranger to Ethiopia

Dear Editors,

We would like to draw your kind attention towards the news story published in your newspaper headlined, “Stranger Comes to Town” [Volume 10 Number 486, August 23, 2009], and further a letter from a reader headlined, “India, International Standards Differ” [Volume 10, Number 487, August 30, 2009].

The Embassy of India would like to express its disagreement regarding both the printed items, as they have incorporated wrong facts, baseless allegations, and a biased story. 


Read More



Is Fortune's Case Really Historic?

Dear Editors,

Your news story headlined, "Fortune Wins Landmark Case against Ayat" [Volume 10, No. 476, June 14, 2009] gives extensive coverage to the court battle your publisher has fought against Ayat Share Company.

Read More



Pankhurst Family Distances Itself from Memorial Institute


Dear Editors,


My attention has been drawn to an advertisement by the Sylvia Pankhurst Education and Training Institute entitled Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Institute, on page 11 of your issue of June 7, 2009 [Volume 10 Number 475].

Though I have given my approval to naming a school after my mother, I have not been asked, and have not agreed to the use of my mother's name for the said Sylvia Pankhurst Education and Training Institute. Neither I, nor members of my family, hold any position or have any affiliation with the Institute share company.


Thank you

Richard Pankhurst (Professor)



A Case for Telecom Privatization

Dear Editors,

I read the news headlined, “Amharic Office Word Application Software Almost Complete” [Volume 10, Number 473, May 24, 2009]. It was great to know that the age old language of Ethiopia is entering the information age. My appreciation to the three organizations: Microsoft Inc., the Ethiopian Information Communications Technology Development Agency (EICTDA) and the Addis Abeba University (AAU).

However, all this effort is of no use as long as a single monopoly operator owns the generation and transmission of information and networks without the involvement of the private sector. As a result of such a policy, Ethiopia, with telecommunications services for over a century, is now known as a prime example of least developed countries (LDCs) in the information communications technology sector.

The private sector is excluded from owning a network, and small and medium enterprises, which could provide local language based content services, are absent from the scene. Perhaps Microsoft Inc. and the other influential organizations should clearly take a stand against the disabling policy on telecom and ICT monopoly in Ethiopia.


Only then can we talk and expect innovative and sustainable development through ICT.   


Asteway  Abebe



Is AU's Priority Cash or Development?

Dear Editors,

When I was covering the 4th African Health Ministers Conference for my government earlier this month, I was delighted to meet African officials in large numbers for the first time. I felt blessed for being assigned to Addis Abeba, as my first African posting. In naivety, I used to think Africa was as homogenous as are most European countries. I was fortunate to learn that the diversity is immense, and incredible.

Read More



Ethiopian Journalists Must Support Each Other

Dear Editor

I read the commentary by Lulit Amdemariam headlined, “Ethiopian Journalism” [Volume10, Number 473, May 24, 2009]. It was a timely and fascinating piece.

Most media houses usually ignore such indispensable issues. Journalists in our country are seen complaining about their profession only when they are imprisoned, charges are pressed or when a new media law is imposed on them.


Read More



Textile Labour Union Needs Reality Check

Dear Editor

I was amazed to read a story headlined, "Local Textile Labour Case May Go International" [Volume 10, Number 470, May 3, 2009]. This story says a local employer and union's case may go international because the case was not getting resolved here in Ethiopia.

I cannot believe the union chose this particular time to take it that far. Its leaders are thinking about getting in touch with the employer's clients through the International Conference of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) in order to urge them not to buy the product from the local factory.

What are they thinking? Where have they come from? Do they live in the same world we live in? Do they follow the news on what is going on around the world, that countries are doing all they could to make it through this turbulent times? Have they heard stories of employees losing their jobs, in millions, and companies getting bankrupt? Do they know that employers and employees are working together to avoid bankruptcy of their companies so employees have job security (even on a concession basis) during these trying times?

Besides, when they say they will contact the exporter's clients and ask them not to buy the product, have they not heard about the foreign exchange crunch this country is facing?

Maybe they were not aware that the products exported by individual companies do bring back the hard currency we all (as a country) depend on. I suggest they should get a reality check; they should also be thankful that their members do have jobs during these tough times while millions are desperately looking for one.

Their timing is so bad that instead of taking their case to international level, they should rather focus on increasing productivity. Our work attitude should change too. Working together with management, we should find a way we could be more a productive workforce.

Our industrial production output is too low, even when compared to other Third World countries.

We should keep in mind that our industries, all imported machineries purchased with foreign exchange, are established after consuming huge investment capital. If the exported products were not competitive enough, those industries could get bankrupt and close their doors with loss of jobs as avoidable consequences. It is in all our interest to see the success of these companies.

We should also be careful not to send the wrong signal to prospective investors, both domestic and foreign.

Ayenew Awole




       Home Page / Fortune News / News In Brief / Agenda / Editor's Note / Opinion / Commentary / View Point

 Cartoons / Comic Strips / Gossip

   Terms & Conditions / Privacy
© 2007