All dictators on the African continent have sought immortality by leaving a legacy that will outlive them and endure for the ages. But all have inherited the wind. Kwame Nkrumah led the first sub-Saharan African country to gain independence from colonialism in 1957. Nkrumaism sought to transform Ghana into a modern socialist state through state-driven industrialization. He built the Akosombo Dam on the Volta River, at the time considered the “largest single investment in the economic development plans of Ghana”. He promoted the cult of personality and was hailed as the “Messiah”, “Father of Ghana and Pan Africanism” and “Father of African nationalism”. He crushed the unions and the opposition, jailed the judges, created a one-man, one-party state and tried to make himself “President for life”. He got the military boot in 1966. He left a bitter legacy of one-man, one-party rule which to this day serves as a model of dictatorship for all of Africa. Nkrumah died in exile and inherited the wind. Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt left a legacy of military dictatorship in Egypt and inherited the wind. Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire left a legacy of kleptocracy and inherited the wind. Moamar Gadhafi left a legacy of division and destruction in Libya and inherited the wind. Idi Amin Dada of Uganda left a legacy of death, destruction and ethnic division in Uganda and inherited the wind.
Like all those African dictators, the late Meles Zenawi, sought to make himself larger than life. He was not only Ethiopia’s savior but Africa’s as well. He sought to project himself as a “visionary leader”, “inspirational spokesman for Africa” and supreme practitioner of “revolutionary democracy. Like all those African dictators before him, Meles had illusions, delusions and obsessions. Meles’ Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) created an Ethiopia based around ethnically defined regions and political parties, state control over land and other key economic assets and a strong authoritarian political party. Due to the monopoly of Power and the economy by Meles’s wing TPLF and the implementation of ethnic-based federalism, ‘ethnicisation’ of socio-economic disputes is increasing exponentially all over Ethiopia.
Few years before his death, Meles Zenawi started an extremely ambitious plan to build the 6,000MW Grand Renaissance Dam on the Nile River just in five years period. The Ethiopian government made clear that it will not seek external financing for the Renaissance Dam ($4.5billion). The other plan of Meles is to construct 4,744km national railway in two phases by seeking loan from China, India, Brazil and Turkey. There are also many mega projects that are included in the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) of the Meles Zenawi. A year before Meles died before seeing any those grand projects completed. After his death, the Ethiopian officials have vowed to implement the vision of Meles zenawi. If they failed, the other face of Meles that is his bitter legacy of one-man, one-party rule and ethnic division will only be remembered by Ethiopians.
It is true that in modern times no country has managed to substantially reduce poverty without greatly increasing the use of electrical energy. It is also true that Railways in India has contributed a great deal to the commercialization of agricultural sector and to the rapid industrialization of a country by moving labor and capital easily. Railways have helped in diluting the intensity of famines by carrying the food-grains from surplus to famine-stricken areas. The recent attempt by the Ethiopian government to develop the railway and energy sector is a good step to boost the development of country but getting the money to finance those grand projects is a big challenge. The Ethiopian foreign minister has done a futile attempt to collect money from Ethiopians in the Diaspora. The good idea is sell-off (privatize) the EPRDF controlled companies to finance Nile Dam and other mega projects.
The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), a ruling political coalition in Ethiopia is an alliance of four groups. All those four political parties have endowments. Tiret, an endowment fund under the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) owns only five companies in Ethiopia. Those are Ambassel Trading House, Belesa Logistics & Transit, Dashen Brewery Plc, Tikur Abbay Transport and Zeleke Agriculture Mechanization. Dinsho, an endowment fund under the Oromo People’s Democratic Front (OPDO) owns a group of five small companies such as Dinsho Agro-Industry private limited company, Dinsho Transport Service Company, Dinsho Trading Company, Biftu Dinsho trading company and Din-System P.L.C. The Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM) also owns a company called Wendo trading.
EFFORT, an endowment fund under Tigrayan people’s liberation Front (TPLF) owns more than 60 companies. EFFORT owns almost all the major industries in Ethiopia including Banking, Construction, Agribusiness, Mining, Communication, Insurance and other pillars of the economy that are vital to the well-being of the country. Some of the EFFORT companies include Messobe Cement Factory, Mesfin Engineering, Ezana Mining, Sur Construction, Almeda Textile, Addis Pharmaceutical production, Africa Insurance, Trans Ethiopia, Star Pharmaceuticals, Sheba Tannery Factory, Mega Net Corp, Tana Trading, Express Transit, Dedebit Saving & Loan, Experience Ethiopia Travel, Segel Construction, Global Auto Spare part, Hiwot Agriculture Mechanization etc…
TPLF’s economic empire has monopolized the private sector of the Ethiopian economy to the extent never seen anywhere in the African continent. Due to the monopoly of Power and the economy by TPLF and the implementation of ethnic-based federalism, ‘ethnicisation’ of socio-economic disputes is increasing exponentially all over Ethiopia. Even though the military and the security are still under complete grip of TPLF, recently the appointment of Hailemariam Desalegn from the South Ethiopian Peoples’ Democratic Front as a prime minister of Ethiopia is a good start in Power-sharing among ruling coalition. But a lot has to be done especially in the economic area.
If privatized, the companies under the control of Oromo People’s Democratic Front (OPDO), Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM) can have a net worth of around 1 billion dollar, whereas, the companies under Tigrayan people’s liberation Front (TPLF) can have a net worth around 6 to 7 billion dollar. With total generated money of 7 to 8 billion dollar, the Ethiopian government can accelerate the construction of the Renaissance Dam, the 4,744km national railway system and other mega projects in the country.