On April 2, 2018, Abiy Ahmed became the prime minister of Ethiopia. Ahmed has a history of being in the military, formerly serving as an army intelligence officer. He also has a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and a master of arts degree in transformational leadership. Yet, these facts do not even compare to Abiy Ahmed’s political accomplishments thus far.
Abiy Ahmed as Prime Minister
At 42 years old, Ahmed is the youngest African leader to have a leadership position. In his first 12 months of office, Ahmed has already enacted political reforms that will privatize state-owned sugar plants, railways and industrial parks. He also intends to partially privatize Ethiopian airlines, telecom, electric power corporation and shipping & logistics services enterprises. These four industries are the most crucial for Ethiopia since Ethiopia considers them “the four crown jewels of the economy.” Ahmed’s privatization process has already garnered international support, gaining $1.2 billion dollars for Ethiopia from the World Bank. This is the largest loan a Sub-Saharan country in Africa has ever received. Ahmed is not only implementing reforms that are leading to global outreach, but he is also bringing in more money for Ethiopia’s economy in doing so.
Repression in Ethiopia
Many consider Ethiopia to be one of the most politically repressive countries. Historically, leaders would lock journalists for doing their jobs or torture inhabitants of detention centers. The political repression has not completely improved, but Ahmed is making sure to take steps in that direction. He has already admitted to the repression that exists and even to the government using torture. Ahmed is attempting to undo Ethiopia’s brutal history of repression by admitting to it and releasing the prisoners. This will not fix Ethiopia’s problems overnight, but it is a small step that should bring the country to a better place for itself and its citizens.
Despite the fact that Ahmed has committed some very important actions that could ultimately impact Ethiopia’s economy, the results have not always been positive. Communal violence has broken out since Ahmed has been in office, resulting in messy and confusing times for many of Ethiopia’s citizens. Ethiopia has an incredibly big, diverse population, which makes it one of the more difficult ones to govern. Many of its citizens still live in poverty and the literacy rates reach only half the population. While Ahmed’s new policies and reforms will be beneficial, that does not mean they will have overall positive effects. However, there is some hope amidst the chaos. It means that the citizens care and that they are looking for something to believe in. Abiy Ahmed’s political accomplishments could be that hope.
Ethiopia still has a long way to go. Abiy Ahmed’s political accomplishments are already paving the way to Ethiopia gaining a more benign government and country. The small steps he is taking will be significant in enacting big change.
– Haley Saffren