Ethiopia: 2017 in Recap –

by Zelalem

Blessed with remarkable achievements and marred with a brief period of scuffles due to grievances, Ethiopia has received the New Year, 2018, with lots to talk about the just concluded 2017.

From chairing United Nations Security Council to facilitating mediation among South Sudan warring factions, Ethiopia went through rosier period of political success. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Melese Alem told The Ethiopian Herald: “The year 2017 once again proved Ethiopia’s strategic importance in the Horn of Africa in particular and Africa in general.

“Ethiopia assumed and successfully culminated its month -long presidency of UN Security Council last year persuading the ‘need for revision of today’s peacekeeping and peacemaking missions’ following the changes of causes, actors and armaments on the part of ‘peace enemies’ like terrorists.”

The year also marked Ethiopia’s strong role in South Sudanese Revitalization peace agreement signed a week ago despite immediate breach of cessation of hostilities. Although internal instability made things harder, Ethiopia as current chair of IGAD has displayed strong leadership role in bringing South Sudanese parties around the table,” Melese adds.

Relatively speaking the country had difficult times internally last year but the lifting up of ten month -long State of Emergency could be a major achievement in restoring peace and stability.

‘Economic diplomacy’ pursued by Ministry of Foreign Affairs continued to be the pillar of Ethiopia’s foreign policy. “In 2017, anchor investors had come to the nation in droves from all over the world. As a result, Ethiopia has become the best FDI destination in the Continent.

In what could be said a promising move against corruption, Ethiopia made a weave arrests of corrupt individuals in 2017 .

The deep renewal which was started in 2016 bore fruits in 2017 in different sectors. Particularly, in corruption crackdown, dozens of officials, businesspersons and brokers were put into custody in charges of embezzling public property, the spokesman notes.

Aimed at widening political landscape and encouraging multiparty system in the country, the party in office initiated negotiations with opposition parties yesteryear. This defined milestone in Ethiopia’s recent politics as the parties thoroughly discussed major issues such improving electoral system and body as well as other aspects of election. The political parties had agreed to introduce mixed electoral system. Accordingly, some 110 new seats will be added to the existing 550 seats of the House of People’s Representatives and the minimum requirement threshold for a party to take a seat in the proportional representation is set to be one percent.

The year also witnessed big developmental achievements like the inauguration of industrial parks across the nation with Hawassa and Bole Lemi Industrial Parks beginning to generate foreign exchange with the export of finished products.

On top of that Meqelle and Kombolcha industrial parks specializing on textile and garment were also commenced. Such investment will make Ethiopia’s dream of becoming hub for light manufacturing in Africa coming true . These parks are believed to attract high foreign direct investment in the country’s history. The parks, besides playing a significant role in promoting technology transfer and bringing economic transformation in the country, are also creating

job opportunities for about hundreds of thousands Ethiopians.

At the heart of economic news in 2017 was also the devaluation of Ethiopian currency to USD by 15 percent increasing the push up of interest rates by two percent. The decision of National Bank of Ethiopia was made to control inflationary pressure and boost the stagnated export earnings. The economic measure was welcomed by international finance outfits like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) says Wendimu Filate, Communication Officer at the Ministry of Trade adding that it is early to see the impact of the devaluation.

It was also in 2017 the country showed its commitment to universal access of electricity launching National Electrification Program. The program is directed at providing 100 percent electrification coverage by 2025.

The nation had also successfully fulfilled its social responsibilities in 2017 as it officially launched Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) which effectively paves way for the implementation of the nine pledges it made at the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees in September in New York. “This framework promotes refugees’ self-reliance through an improved and sustainable response by including refugees into national development plans, says Sulieman Ail , Public Relations Officer at the Administration for Refugees and Returnees Affairs.

In spite of dwindling global donation to refugee hosting nations, Ethiopia during the first 9 month of 2017 alone hosted about 72,000 refugees crossing its border, he adds.

The other major social engagement in 2017 which brought Ethiopians from all walks of life together was the quest to eradicate water hyacinth locally called Enboch at Tana Lake.

Despite greater socioeconomic and political progress, the year also saw a brief period of conflicts and violence leading to closed meeting of Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary and Democratic Front’s executive committee whose impacts would be seen in 2018.

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