Ethiopia’s Speedy Reform Accomplishment Unimaginable: U.S. Embassy

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Addis Ababa June 22/2019 The quick and diverse achievements of Ethiopia’s comprehensive reform was unimaginable and worth remembering of how much has been accomplished only in 14 months, Spokesperson of U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa Nicholas Barnett said. 

In an exclusive interview with ENA, Spokesperson Nicholas  Barnett said that Ethiopia is witnessing incredible reform proposals that “were not even thinkable” few years back.

Ethiopia has been implementing sweeping reforms since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office back in April 2018.

The reform in the political arena has led to the release of political prisoners, return of exiled political parties and removal of names of political parties those once designated as terrorist organizations. The economic reform has paved the way for the opening of the economy.

The Spokesperson said the reforms and the accomplishment within this short period of time was not imaginable.

“The idea we would see all political prisoners release, the idea we would see the return of exile political parties, removal of terrorist designations, rethinking the economic development path of this country to open up the potential to the private sector … the idea so much would happen so quickly was not imaginable. I think as we look ahead it is worth remembering how much has already been accomplished in the first 14 months of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Administration,” he said.

He added that there are real constructive changes including the creation of space for conversations about issues that were off the table before.

Unable to understand the ongoing reform, misusing democracy, and angry rhetoric are few of the challenges that the country is facing in different demonstrative ways.

Ethiopia, like any other country will continue to face challenges as it continue struggling to meet its goals, he added.

Overcoming the challenges and move the country forward is up to Ethiopia and Ethiopians, he stated, and added “but I hope that by sharing our experiences at this time of transition we can inspire and help encourage the kind of conversation that will help Ethiopia overcome its challenges at this moment.”

In addition to that, he pointed out that involving the Ethiopian people in the process of resolving the challenges is important.

“We have seen overtime the kind of negative rhetoric, the angry rhetoric and the division and this is not unique to Ethiopia we are struggling with it in the US as well,” he articulated.

However, most Ethiopians want the same thing such as opportunity, prosperity, inclusion and the chance for stability and lasting peace, he noted.

The move to increase private participation in the economy is smart, he said, and added that concerns are raised in that respect and they can be addressed.

In doing so, he urges Ethiopians to look for companies not only for basic products but also for the total package value, quality and responsibility.

The Spokesperson said that the U.S. is supporting Ethiopia in enhancing its capacity to manage the privatization process.

“How can we help Ethiopia to work effectively with the private sector: USAID has also worked with Ethiopia already to improve the procurement process; to make sure that the procurement is not just the lowest cost but it is about the best value for Ethiopia and that includes these larger projects and potentials for investment.”

The U.S. is supporting Ethiopia’s efforts towards creating transparency and leveling the playing field, he said, adding that “no back door deals. We want everything to be out on the table.”

Noting that Ethiopia and the U.S. have a century-old ‘fairly special’ relationship, he underlined that the people of both countries helped one another.

“The United States has a very larger Diasporas population of Ethiopians; there is a lot of trade and travel between our countries and there are a lot of reasons for us to continue working together,” the Spokesperson said.

“Right now it is not the U.S. alone that is contributing to the bilateral relations; it is Ethiopia’s decisions to move forward towards values that we share on democratic principles, economic goals and regional security opens the door for a much larger and broader cooperation than we have enjoyed before.”

He noted that Ethiopia, which is undertaking comprehensive political and economic reforms, has the potential to truly set an example for the rest of the world of what is possible.