Briefing New African on the Horn of Africa


By De Birhan Media 

New African is an authoritative African Magazine published by IC publications. IC publications has been publishing magazines, newsletters, country supplements, industry reports, and market intelligence on Africa and the Middle East since 1966.

The print copy of the New African November 2011 issue has interviews with the Eritrean President, Isayas Afeworki (Page 28 to 32) and Dr. Eleni Gebremedhin CEO of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange. I will quote some relevantly interesting statements from the interviews.

First on Isayas’ Interview:

The Magazine begins by reporting Eritrea’s ballistic economic growth,

 Eritrea is very much command economy where things are planned with military precision . And in contrast to its neighbours, its agricultural model has led to self sufficiency, and its economy is set to grow quite rapidly with the added bonus new mining ventures which should make Eritrea the fastest developing economy in the world this year,with a growth rate of 17%.

On aid he said,

Aid was fashionable at one point in time, but with but with experience we see that in fact, aid has been disabling for Africa.

He also recalls that the World Bank told him that they would write the country programme for him in 1994, when his nation was a nascent independent nation. He said after a controversial debate with the reps of WB, he decided that they have to write their own country programme themselves.

Explaining on how his nation was able to survive the current regional drought, he said,

It is because of dams, small, medium, big dams. It is the result of spate irrigation, where you divert streams of water flowing from one area to another.

He blames the governments of the Horn for the recent food problems in the Horn and advises self-reliance as the best solution out of it.

I think it is irresponsible governments, corrupt governments, who misuse external aid and support and don’t have even an idea on how to tackle this problem on their own.

Asked about the model of growth he would endorse, either American or Chinese; he opted neither and said that the basics such as the economy, development, distribution and citizenship have to be decided first. In an interview, which Isayas faced few challenging questions, one final statement he made was about liberation movements and corruption.

People talk about liberation movements but my question is, if you have been a liberation fighter, why do you pickpocket, why do you take money from the population? You don’t have a carte blanche to rob the population of their resources simply because you fought for liberation.

With Dr. Eleni,(Page 34)

In an advertorial type of Wh interview, Dr. Eleni of the ECX speaks of the rationale, challenges, services of ECX and her roles. The following is an interesting quote that she said when asked about the challenges they faced at ECX once they were founded.

… I will give you an example; we had designed our system around the whole electronic warehouse system. So when a commodity arrives at our warehouses, one of the first things a clerk asks for is the license plate number of the vehicle so we can go and sample that vehicle and take the commodity off the truck. In one instance, the person who brought in a consignment of coffee and told our clerk that there was no license plate number,without which the electronic system cannot proceed. The clerk asked, “Why don’t you have a license plate number?” The answer: “because I brought it on a donkey”. So here, we are trying to implement a global IT trading system and we are right back down to earth with a donkey. So, this quite clearly illustrates some of the challenges we faced.  

New African also has a special feature on Frantz Fanon entitled “What Frantz Fanon meant to African liberation” and a piece on aid that mentions Ethiopia in few lines by Akua Djanie. If you buy the magazine €4.50 you will also read about this important Ugandan lady; Elizabeth Bagaya of Toro.