There has been much ado about Ethiopia’s “economic development” over the past 27 years. The Ethiopian government, multinational entities and the few who are prospering tremendously continually boast about macro-economic indicators, the influx of foreign capital and shiny skyscrapers as if the gains for a fraction of society represent progress for the rest.

The reality on the ground is vastly different than the talking points that are used by politicians; the truth is that most Ethiopians are struggling with financial anxieties or are being subsumed by economic insolvency even though Ethiopia has enough resources to sustain all without turning to NGOs and philanthropists for charity. The key to self-sufficiency and shared prosperity is to ensure that people have access to resources so that they can take care of themselves. More importantly, creating a society of ownership instead of donors and loans with exorbitant terms is an imperative.

For too long, the EPRDF has acted as a caretaker of outside interests while eschewing its fiduciary responsibilities that it has for Ethiopians. What started with Meles Zenawi and enshrined by Hailemariam Desalegn hasn’t changed under Abiy Ahmed, instead of empowering Ethiopians and giving people access to capital, utilizing innovative practices such as micro-financing and implementing our version of a homestead act by granting Ethiopians land, the government’s default mode is to turn people into wardens of the state or menial wage workers.

Ethiopia’s garment workers are the lowest paid in the world, we can do better than to turn our people into sweatshop laborers.

We can do better than to be the preferred destination of corporations in search of the cheapest source of labor and selling off our sectors to the highest bidders. Privatizing that does not prioritize the wellness of Ethiopians, doesn’t develop industrial capacity within Ethiopia and is effectively gifted to multinational corporations without competition is colonization in the name of “economic development”.

What is urgently needed in Ethiopia is a vision for creating and sustaining industries that are owned and operated by Ethiopians. This requires smart planning and forgoing immediate gratification for the sake of long term growth. Instead of pursuing a prudent path that maximizes Ethiopia’s potential by investing directly in the people, decision makers are in the process of auctioning off Ethiopian Airlines, the pride and joy of all Ethiopians and one of the few functional institutions we have back home, to profit chasers who have zero vested interest in the well-being of Ethiopia.

Abiy Ahmed is following in the neoliberal/neocon agenda to the letter under the false assumption that enriching those who have plenty will eventually trickle down to the rest of society. This is the chimera of globalism that has been sold to the world, everywhere it has been tried the end result has been further destitution for the poor and the decimation of the working and middle-class. Preferential treatment for the plutocracy and austerity for the vast majority is not only immoral, it is economic suicide. Instead of heeding the advice of Macron, we need a leader courageous enough to act on behalf of Ethiopians.

Yesterday, Addis Abeba city administrators announced that begging and prostitution would be outlawed. Instead of addressing the root causes of poverty that is leading people to take such drastic measures, authorities at the local, regional and federal levels would rather tackle the system. Everyone has a seat at the table when it comes to economic development in Ethiopia except the people who are struggling to keep up with inflation and being turned renters in their own nation.

Rather than implementing policies that ameliorate suffering in #Ethiopia, politicians in power would rather lead by photo ops and those out of power would rather bicker over tribe. Click To Tweet

Ethiopians take great pride in never being colonized and the valor of our ancestors who stood against fascist invaders. However, we must face reality, what our forefathers repelled at Adwa and drove out in 1941 has manifested itself in a more subtle yet more malicious form. When 90% of young Ethiopians are facing “multidimensional poverty”, more and more are being turned into refugees and the wealth of Ethiopia is being exported overseas while our people are being subsumed by hopelessness, ethnocentrism and displacement, there is no other way to describe what is taking place in Ethiopia but to call it economic colonization.