PM Abiy Ahmed Raises the Bar for Human Rights in Ethiopia and the Region
Ethiopians celebrate Thanksgiving Festival in Addis. Image : IOL
by PD Lawton, 30 October 2022
The US State Department, the likes of Antony Blinken and Linda Thomas-Greenfield, do not see value in the human right to development, a higher standard of living and a sovereign united country, which is what the current Ethiopian government is trying to achieve for its citizens. They speak for an establishment that has not progressed since the days of Henry Kissinger`s NSSM 200, which sees industrialized African economies as a national security threat to US world hegemony, which is why current US interventionism is aimed at destabilizing Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is one of the fastest growing economies on the African continent. Continuing with the goals of Ethiopia`s Growth and Transformation Plan, the administration of PM Abiy Ahmed is projecting the country to be the light manufacturing hub of eastern Africa in the very near future with a low middle-income economy equivalent to that of Ghana .
For this to materialize sufficient electricity is required, hence the completion and second filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in 2021, which will provide a substantial backbone of electricity to the domestic economy as well as for export to neighbouring countries.
Currently Ethiopia exports electricity to Djibouti and Sudan. Last year electricity exports brought in 5 billion Ethiopian Birr (roughly US$ 95 million ) which was an increase in US$5 million from the previous year.
Ethiopia and Djibouti have jointly begun construction on the Ethio-Djibouti 2nd Circuit High Power Transmission Line and Distribution Station Project which will allow for an increased power capacity from Ethiopia to Djibouti. Djibouti is a geographically small country which suffers from an energy deficit.
This joint project will increase Ethiopia`s revenue, increase Djibouti`s energy capacity and therefore positively progressing both economies as well as, and most importantly, integrating the East African Community through development.
Despite Egypt`s controversial aggression towards the filling of GERD, PM Abiy has stood firmly behind the idea of East African countries sharing resources and working together for the benefit of the Horn of Africa as he has shown in his groundbreaking brokering of peace with Eritrea and his work mediating in Sudan and between Somalia and Kenya. For his efforts he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019.
Under PM Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia has fostered a strong friendship with China and is Africa`s key partner in China`s Belt and Road Initiative which is a vehicle for economic partnership based on the equality of participating countries. China has funded numerous projects in Ethiopia of great socio-economic value. There are around 400 Chinese funded construction and manufacturing projects, including special economic zones, schools and hospitals. China is Ethiopia`s largest trading partner.
The Addis-Djibouti Train, epitomy of modern Ethiopia
Much of Ethiopia`s air, road and rail infrastructure has been built in partnership with China. The most outstanding project is the Addis-Djibouti high speed electric standard gauge railway. This 752.7km electrified line was the first of its kind in 2016 for East Africa, with the Mombasa-Nairobi SGR to follow in 2018. Both railways are part of the African Integrated High Speed Railway Network (AIHSRN), the African Union`s economic integration plan to connect regions across the continent and thereby accelerate economic growth.
In 2017, over 100 people were killed in a landslide on Koshe rubbish dump which serviced the capital city of Addis. This tragedy led to the government turning what had been a polluting eyesore into a modern green innovation, a waste-to-energy incineration plant, that now generates electricity for 30% of homes in Addis. The Reppie Project, as it is called, meets EU standards on emissions and is the first in sub Saharan Africa.
The Green Legacy Initiative is PM Abiy`s own initiative, possibly inspired more by China`s phenomenal success at regenerating depleted environments and especially applicable to Ethiopia`s geography of arid highland soils; than by UN SDG targets.
The Green Legacy aims to plant 20 billion trees across the country to regenerate forests, soils and increasingly arid climatic conditions. As demonstrated in China, this will prevent desertification, increase localized rainfall, regenerate soil, and increase the standard of living for both urban and rural communities.
China has eradicated poverty in all regions of China by developing the physical economy with modernized infrastructure programs and adopting regenerative environmental projects that result in increased agricultural yields.
A century ago 35% of the country was covered in trees. Since the last 2 decades that coverage is only 4%. To inspire others, Ethiopia has sent gifts of millions of saplings to neighbouring countries.
“While literally sowing the seeds today, we have no doubt these seeds will bear fruit across generations and contribute to reducing carbon emissions, decreasing water and air pollution, increasing rains in dry areas and preventing flooding and landslides.”
“Through Ethiopia’s Green Legacy, we are laying the foundation for multidimensional prosperity by leaving a climate smart generational legacy. The energy we have harnessed in this process is a key learning to be applied to yielding greater results in our agriculture productivity. Ours is a success storyand experience to share with others in Africa and beyond. ”
Abiy`s administration has placed great emphasis on cultural heritage. Addis now has several cultural museums. National heritage days and festivals are enthusiastically celebrated by this nation that has such a spectacularly rich and ancient history.
It is a truly great endeavor of his government to unite all ethnic groups and to teach people that they are all Ethiopian and not divided by ethnicity and identity politics. Abiy`s government seeks to transcend ethnicity and unite all under Ethiopian national identity, a true marker of a sovereign state.
His government is clearly demonstrating commitment to Ethiopian`s human rights whilst wishing to extend peace and prosperity to the Horn of Africa.