Ethiopian Business Review

Martin Plaut is not new to the geopolitics of the Horn of Africa, having amassed more than three decades of experience in the region, starting as a journalist with the BBC World Service in 1984. He has reported from most of East Africa, as well as some parts of West Africa, and but his specialty lies in the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa. He later served as the Africa Editor for the BBC World Service News and published extensively on African affairs. Currently, he is working as an adviser to the United States Department of State and Senior Researcher at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies.
Plaut has also advised the government of the United Kingdom in matters of the Horn of Africa. His research interests are African politics and economics, colonies and colonization as well as emigration and immigration. He is the author of “Understanding Eritrea: Inside Africa’s most repressive state (2016), “Promise and Despair: The First Struggle for a Non-Racial South Africa”, and recently he authored “Robert Mugabe” with Sue Onslow.
However,“Understanding Eritrea” is his most famous book. In the book, Plaut, a veteran observer of Eritrean affairs, produced valuable reading for all those interested in better understanding Eritrea and provides an all-encompassing coverage of history. His latest book, which he authored with Onslow in 2018, is a biography of Robert Mugabe, former president of Zimbabwe. The book describes Mugabe’s formative experiences as a child and young man; his role as an admired Afro-nationalist leader in the struggle against white settler rule; and his evolution into a political manipulator and survivalist.
All of his works, including those related to the Horn, were initiated because of his engagement in the region for over three decades, and his relationship with known figures in these countries and of course partly due to his academic interest. Even after retiring from the BBC, Plaut is still active in the politics of the Horn of Africa; a region which he believes has assets beyond its strategic location. He has observed the increase in influence of global and regional powers in the Horn of Africa, which he believes was driven by diverse factors. Despite the increase in the influence, Plaut still believes that most nations in the Horn are keen to preserve their autonomy. He shared his opinions and concerns in an exclusive interview with EBR’s Samson Berhane.

Tegbaru Belete Program Leader of the Ethiopia Soil Information System

Soil acidity has been a big concern in Ethiopia for a long time. Although the problem has been known for over a decade, the level of action taken by the government was minimal. To avert this problem and develop policy to help farmers improve their yield, the Ethiopian Soil Information System (Ethio SIS) was launched by the Agricultural Transformation Agency in 2012, to bolster the growth and transformation of Ethiopia’s agriculture sector. Tegbaru Belete, program leader of the project, sat down with EBR’s Ashenafi Endale to talk about some of the ins and outs of the project and how the soil acidity problem can be solved.

Secret Vulnerability

Monday, 15 October 2018 09:00 Published in Society

Ethiopia's Hidden Victims
Sexual abuse against children is a surprisingly frequent, but unreported issue. To make it worse, most cases go unreported because of the accompanying stigma. While the level of psycho-social assistance for victims is quite low, the abused children can also suffer from depression to substance abuse issues. The names of the victims and their families have been changed to protect their identities. EBR’s Menna Asrat reports.

Scramble for the Horn

Monday, 15 October 2018 06:00 Published in Topic

Gulf Nations Cast a Shadow Over the Horn of Africa

The Horn of Africa is one of the most unstable regions in the world. It has long been known for economic, political and humanitarian crises. However, these challenges have not repelled global and regional powers, chiefly because of the region’s strategic geopolitical importance for global security and international trade. This makes the region a battleground among global actors whose economic and security interests exceed their national boundaries. The United States, France, China, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Iran have already set up military bases in the region. Germany, Japan and India are also focusing on the area. More recently, with the security bloc formation, spearheaded by Saudi Arabia and Iran respectively, the region has further become a battle of religious, economic and security influences. In fact, the Horn countries have been highly influenced to side with either of the two blocs. Despite this influence, Ethiopia has remained neutral for many years. Recently, however, worries are mounting that Ethiopia will likely side with the bloc led by Saudi Arabia. However, the government claims that it is firm in its neutral position. EBR’s Samson Berhane investigates.

Shell Shocked

Monday, 15 October 2018 06:00 Published in News

Just three days after the start of the Ethiopian New Year, on September 15, 2018, chaos erupted in Burayu. The deadly ethnic-based attacks that ravaged parts of the country made their way to the formerly peaceful town, and around 12,000 people, including the women and children above, were displaced from their homes.

Bonus

Monday, 15 October 2018 06:00 Published in Investment

Incentive, Burden

Globally, various bonus schemes are used to keep employees satisfied and motivated. This strategy is increasingly seen adopted by banks, insurances and corporations in Ethiopia. It is becoming common to witness banks and insurance companies showering two to four months of salaries on employees as bonuses. Although these companies are benefiting from the strategy, there are still concerns, as EBR’s Ashenafi Endale writes.

Dealing with Acidic Soils

Monday, 15 October 2018 06:00 Published in Investment

A Daunting Task waiting Ethiopia

It has been over a decade since the government discovered that a little more than 40Pct of the total arable land of Ethiopia is affected by soil acidity. As a result, the fertility of most Ethiopian soil has already declined posing another challenge to crop production. Soil acidity affects crop growth because acidic soil contains toxic levels of aluminum and manganese and characterized by deficiency of essential plant nutrients such potassium, calcium and magnesium, among others. Had acidic soils been neutralized the country would have increased the production of crops such as cereals four folds. Yet this does not seem like it will be realized soon. EBR’s Ashenafi Endale reports.

The Brewing Bitcoin Rush In Ethiopia

Monday, 15 October 2018 06:00 Published in Focus

Since its creation in 2009, Bitcoin has grown popular across the world. During its earlier years, it was almost monopolized by mega investors. But later on, with the establishment of Bitclub, ordinary people became able to invest in Bitcoin and to own small computing machines on their farm. This includes Hanna Teklie, an Ethiopian entrepreneur and many others who are investing in cryptocurrencies, as EBR’s Ashenafi Endale writes.

Life expectancy, one of the methods used to measure health in various countries, has drastically risen in Africa from 50.9 years in 2012 to as high as 54 years last year, according to UNDP. The gain in longevity is observed despite the fact that large section of the African population still suffers from poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, and low access to health facilities, communicable diseases, and a lack of access to clean water. Despite the improvement, the lowest life expectancy in the world is located in the continent. Africa’s Sierra Leone has a life expectancy of only 50.1 years, the lowest in the world.

Turning Back on Service Exports

Monday, 15 October 2018 03:00 Published in Focus

Why Exports of Ethiopian Services Remain Stagnant

The service sector in Ethiopia has suffered from a lack of government attention for a long time. It is still not part of the government’s strategy, even though it contributes close to 40Pct of the country’s gross domestic product. In Ethiopia, earnings from service export have long been dominated by traditional sectors- mainly travel and tourism services. This has undermined the competitiveness of firms that export services and the country’s ability to boost its service export earnings. Although service exports have potential, they have not grabbed the attention of policy makers so far, as EBR’s Samson Berhane reports.

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