Seid Hassan

Ethiopian Airlines' A350
Photo credit: ATWOnline

Ethiopia’s privatisation project has earned acclamation from the usual suspects including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, lenders, and foreign bargain hunters among others, but a serious conversation among Ethiopians has yet to take place. This commentary intends to draw the attention of policy makers to some of the grey areas of privatisation of state-owned enterprises in the country. 

Ethiopian authorities have reportedly engaged a British law firm to handle a dispute over the use of the waters of the Nile. This is inappropriate. Any dispute over the Nile should be dealt with under international law. Moreover, a law firm based in a former colonial country can never be expected to be independent of the interests of the country in which its primary interest lies.


Ethiopia is in the grip of a terrible crisis. The recent widespread popular protests must be understood in the context of an atrociously repressive regime and near total capture of the state by ethnic elites, who are now the sole beneficiaries of national resources. The people are bitter. If this mass frustration is channeled into properly organized popular resistance, Ethiopia could see a revolution.


Real Estate in Ethiopia is booming. The phenomenon is steered by government policies whose actors from the ruling party are very much invested in the business themselves. Monopolization of land by the government and close ties of politicians, business affiliates and banks has made real estate a haven for money laundering and corruption - while Ethiopians continue to be evicted.


There is currently talk of devaluing the Ethiopian currency - again. Ethiopian authorities do not seem to realise that sound macroeconomic policies are the road for success and that continuous devaluation could not be a panacea for the country’s economic ills.


Ethiopia’s central bank announced a devaluation of national currency the birr by a fifth on 1 September, reportedly on the instructions of a macro-economic team chaired by President Zenawi. Placing the devaluation within in a wider political context, Seid Hassan outlines what the move means for the country’s economy and why it might please the IMF.