Prime Minister Zenawi has passed away on August 20, 2012, he was 57 and his life’s lamp went out untimely out. Though Judgment is something that one has to face invariably, the Horn of Africa in particular and the continent of Africa in general have lost a pragmatic visionary and a detail-oriented strategic thinker of this era. That is why tributes and accolades are flooding from all corners of the world to reflect his attributes.
The Prime Minister who consider himself as a leader and as a student, sure indeed, that in no time made his hallmark to be intellectual rigor. He earned his Masters in Business administration (MBA) from “Open University” of Great Britain and masters of Science in economics from “Erasmus University” of the Netherland. He also received honorary doctoral degree in political science from “Hannan University” in South Korea (courtesy Wikipedia). In fact New York Times is quoted in reflecting his towering intellect as “a voracious reader with a steel-strap mind who could rapidly digest mountains of statistics and quote large chunk of Shakespeare at length”(NY Time Aug. 21, 2012 by Jeffery GettleMan). His force of intellect was recognized by his peers in the ranks of EPRDF and becomes the reason of his ascendency to the office of Prime Minister.
PM Meles’s moral choices were understood by speculators since 1991 when he took power that his prime goal was to eradicate “poverty and ignorance.” All his domestic policies were framed around and directed against poverty and ignorance. He won the admiration of IMF and World Bank to receive international loans for agricultural, educational, and infra-structural developments. Ethiopia now with real GDP growth at a double digit rate since 2003, have outperformed most African countries. He revolutionizes the country’s backward and inefficient marketing system. The impressive growth in services is driven by expansion in financial intermediation, public administration, and retail businesses. The poverty line at national level measured by the poverty headcount index has declined by 5.5%. A decline in national poverty is reported by African Development Bank Group (ADBG) in recent years. And yes, the decline of poverty of a household income and expenditure is attributed from a fall in head count poverty in rural areas. He advocated the pro-poor domestic policies and according the World Bank East African leadership, Ethiopia ranks number one in Africa on spending as share of GDP going to pro-poor sectors.
In higher education, Ethiopia had one University when EPRDF came to power. Now there are over 20 universities and expecting to increase by 10 as projected by the end of the decade. Meles will be remembered as a leader who value education not only to his people but also to his neighbor countries. He is a leader with a moral value and belief that educated society could easily solve the intra-national conflicts and inter-state conflicts. Education will allow us to challenge the psychological dimension of conflicts to bring sustaining peace, the Prime Minister remarked in one of his speech to ENCDC. We Eritreans are grateful for allowing our young refugees to various universities to continue their education.
The PM Minister and his administrations have changed the “psychology of dependency.” For decades Ethiopians had a psychological believe that Ethiopia could not survive without the Eritrean ports. Indeed Ethiopia has proved that it could stand and move ahead of the countries that have port outlets. The will power of Meles and his peers has changed this debilitating emotional dependency and made the public to see alternatives. Now the port of Djibouti is expanded to serve Ethiopia’s needs and new rail roads are on construction to extend from Djibouti to the Northern part of Ethiopia. Currently, Ethiopia is the center of stability and economic development in the horn of Africa. All the credits are to the PM and his administration.
Meles The Global Voice of Africa
PM Meles was the leader and the voice of Africa in global warming. In 2011 Ethiopia become the first African country to launch climate resilience Green Economy Strategy. He was fighting on climate change and become a leader in “Africa’s green thinking.” Meles in redirecting his influence, energy, and vision and to stop the third wave of financial and economic crises of Africa, he called African leaders to rethink their development strategies. He reminds them that “rapid and sustained growth in Africa is a matter of life and death.”
As a chairperson of the committee of African heads of state and governments on climate change, Meles advocated and demanded that the West to compensate the world’s poorest continent for climate change. In 2010 he participated in the debate of global warming representing Africa at New York City. PM Meles by putting Africa on prospective and up in the front did highlight that “Africa has contributed nothing in global warming”. But also didn’t hesitate that “the impact of global warming is more devastating in Africa than elsewhere in the world.” As part of his Green Economy strategy, Ethiopia planted 1.7 billion trees since 2007, and become the 3rd largest worldwide in planting trees. Meles will be remembered for his strong commitment for African integration and supporting African Union’s peacekeeping engagement.
Ethiopia in particular and Africa in general lost their exceptional leader. My condolence to the family of the PM and Ethiopian people at large and rest in peace “the hero of the poor” to borrow the words of Ex-Prime Minister of Great Britain.