Ethiopia is lighting the path to progress by pursuing peace, appointing its first female president and selecting a gender-balanced cabinet, demonstrating that it is never too late to make a difference and create a country for the people.
Under new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia is leading by example by making unprecedented changes that are pushing the country forward. The most publicised change under the new administration is the selection of the country’s first female President, Sahle-Work Zewde. He has embraced gender parity by appointing a gender-balanced cabinet with ten female ministers, where the roles of the Minister of Peace, Industry and Trade, Transport and more are held exclusively by women.
PM Abiy Ahmed has even appointed some parastatals such as Lelise Neme, CEO of Industrial Parks Development Corporation. According to Neme, “He believes in the young generation, that they can be a CEO and that women can lead. What he has done within the last eight months could not be done within six years or ten years. It’s just a miracle, that is the only word I have for it.” PM Abiy Ahmed’s dedication to equality has caught the attention of the entire world, but the gender-balanced cabinet was only the beginning.
The liberating changes in Ethiopia are being called the Third Revolution, marking the shift from years of authoritarian rule toward democracy. PM Abiy Ahmed has released thousands of political prisoners, ended media censorship and is working to reform strict laws. The government is also working toward the partial privatisation of state enterprises which will allow for competition and help fund major development programmes.
This progress has ignited passion in Ethiopians. Netsanet Lemessa, CEO of Ethiopian Insurance Corporation tells Penresa, “what our Prime Minister is doing will immediately change our country. I would like to thank him. I want to give my word to assist him as much as I can in the insurance sector.”
The future is now. The monumental changes that Ethiopia has achieved and is working toward opens the door to incredible investment opportunities. As Ethiopia entered the African Continental Free Trade Agreement on March 21, 2019, the financial sector is prepared for foreign investment. Ethiopia’s banks are placing their headquarters along the same road to improve the ease of doing business and increase FDI through a modern and stable financial sector, affectionately called the ‘Wall Street of Addis Ababa’. Among these, the new 198-metre Commercial Bank of Ethiopia central office will soon be the tallest building in East Africa.
Most notably, the investment climate is especially positive due to PM Abiy Ahmed’s dedication to pacification with neighbouring countries. Even before PM Abiy Ahmed was appointed, Ethiopia has been considered a hub in East Africa in spite of being a land-locked country, thanks to their flight connections with Ethiopian Airlines.
Now, through PM Abiy Ahmed’s leadership, trade is destined to improve. On July 9, 2018, PM Abiy Ahmed signed a historic peace deal with Eritrea, ending a twenty-year conflict that reopened the borders between the two countries. “Forgiveness frees the consciousness. When we say we have reconciled, we mean we have chosen a path of forgiveness and love.” With this philosophy, it appears that the atmosphere of goodwill is spreading across the Horn of Africa.