by Teshome Debalke
According to the Magazine, the organizers of the annual conference announced that the 2013 event will focus on “Investing in Agri-business: Opportunities and Challenges for Diaspora Investors.” It went on:
“Specifically, the Forum will discuss specific investment opportunities in agri-business, agro-processing and financing and value chain development opportunities in select subsectors,”
The Ethiopian American that organizes the annual Ethiopian Diaspora Business Forum since 2005 is ‘a non-political business magazine that serves the Ethiopian Diaspora’, according to its Website. The exact mission of the ‘Virginia based Ethiopian Diaspora Business and Investment Group with offices in New York’ isn’t clear.
It says ‘The Ethiopian American was first established as non-partisan, professional business publication in 2004 by a group of young Diaspora professionals to create a positive and non-political platform devoted to the issue of business and investment in the Ethiopian Diaspora community.’
But, none of the important issue of business and investment reflected on the Website or the previous or the coming events’ agenda. Nor the Medias that reported the events, including Tadias Magazine care to ask what exactly the ‘issues of business and investment’ of the Forum may be and who is behind the events; as required by basic journalism inquiry.
It appears the report was based on the interview conducted by Tadias Magazine to Yohannes Assefa, the ‘Founder and Executive Director of the yearly Forum, But, no information on the background and credential of the Executive Director were provided on the report or on the official website of the Forum. Nor the question of what does ‘to create a positive and non-political platform devoted to the issue of business and investment’ means for the Diaspora and the general public were raised by the unnamed reporter of the Magazine.
Before one ‘create a platform on the issue of business and investment’ for Diaspora inquiring the transparency of the organization and the credential of the individuals behind it would have been appropriate for the Media that suppose to inform the public. But, nether the organization’s Website nor the Magazine reviled who the persons and the businesses, including the Managing Director of the Forum and the two ‘partner/representative’ businesses in Ethiopia, Beleco Business PLC with no contact name and Media and Communications Consultant led by Omer Redi Ahmed are. Nor Tadias Magazine provided additional information beyond what is available on the organization’s official website.
A quick examination of the individual and the ‘partner/representative’ of the Forum revile Yohannes Assefa is a practicing Attorney in New York State and Washington. He is also the Director of Stalwart Management Consultancy Services Pvt. Ltd, Dubai, United Arab Emirates and the Managing Director of Pioneer International Legal Consulting, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia among many work experiences, including as Chief of Party USAID Ethiopia, according LinkedIn profile.
Such important information on the Managing Director of Ethiopian American Forum and asking clarification on the mission of the Forum would have been important to inform the participants. Instead, Tadias Magazine took the word of the organizer; essentially reprinted what is on the Website of Ethiopian American Investment Fourm.
The question of why, who… remains unanswered until other independent Medias conduct extensive investigation to find out the Forum, the organizers’ mission and the state of business and investment in Ethiopia, including all the parties with direct and indirect business or political interest in the outcome.
The ‘issue of business and investment’
From the outset, the issue of business and investment is the issue of policy and reliability of information coming out from the public and private institutions in Ethiopia. In that regard, the ruling regime’s policy as a governing body and in business for itself is the critical issue of business and investment and the one-and-only hindrance to do business and investment in Ethiopia. Skirting it as a ‘non-political platform’ raises more questions on the organizers of the Forum; covering up the real issue, why? When the organizers have a direct business interest on the outcome of the Forum it raises more question to the truthfulness what they clams thus, the legitimacy of the Forum itself.
At the meantime, ‘Medias’ that look the other way from doing their basic journalistic duty of finding out the creditability of the organizer and ignoring the burning issue of business and investment shouldn’t call themselves public Media but anything else . Tadias Magazine failed to do just that and choose to mislead the Diaspora from failing to investigate the legitimacy of the Forum.
For example, one of the agenda of the 8th up coming Diaspora Forum is ‘investing in Agri-business: Opportunities and Challenges for Diaspora Investors’ according to the Forum material.
Here again, the Forum organizers are repackaging the same old problem with promotional gimmick. The issues for Ethiopians still remain as simple as the ruling regime to get out of doing business and to surrender the public resources, including land and public and private institutions used to favor its business and political cronies. Yet, the promoters’ mission appears to ask the Diaspora to join in the ruling party’s corruption frenzy than doing legitimate business and investment; as we are witnessing the most intrusive land give away of the century by the ruling party.
If the simple issues of corruption and cronyism in business and investment aren’t clear for well educated organizers and sponsors of the Forum, including the trained corporate lawyer like the Managing Director of the Forum, and the various participating businesses and the trained journalist in Tadias Magazine they need to reexamine their whole concept of business and investment and the role of Media. Moreover, misleading Ethiopians in Diaspora to invest in an environment where neither the policy is clear nor the ruling party’s crony business crowding out private business and investment addressed is not only unfair but borders conspiracy to mislead the public. Such complacency further breeds the massive institutional corruption that has been going on for too long and can have legal and political precaution for all parties involved in the near future.
In addition, ignoring the democratic movement’s demand the ruling regime seize its corrupt practices in the political space as well as economic livelihood of the public speaks volume to the promoters of ‘business and investment’ and the ‘Medias’ that skirt the issue of the public interest.
As sad as it is, once again, Tadias Magazine showed its duplicity; ignoring the important issue of lack of democratic governance and the prevailing extreme corruption when it covers business and investment Forum. Moreover, the Magazine went beyond the call of duty; ignoring the largest Ethiopian Diaspora community interest in favor of the business and investment group’s interest that appeared to work with or for the ruling regime to promote businesses and investment in their favor.
Looking at the sponsors of the Ethiopian Diaspora Investment Forum further reviles the same business and investors recycled over-and-over again in the last seven Forums in an attempt to legitimize the business and investment climate in Ethiopia. Quite frankly, the Forum would be better off to openly promote the regime’s investment policy than misleading the public by skirting the prevailing reality.
Among the sponsors of the coming event are:
ModernETH based in Addis Ababa is an affiliate of ALTOUR-Tech ‘a technology focused outsourcing center based in New York and managed by Manny Amare.
Info Mind is the ‘parent company of Talent Search and Ethiojobs.net leading human capital solutions provider in Ethiopia with services including human capital acquisition and payroll management…’, according to its Website. The unnamed owners of the company on its Website speak for itself.
Ebs (Ethiopian Broadcasting Service) a TV station ‘privately held Media Company established in 2008 in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA to provide a niche transmission programming that targets the booming Ethiopian market globally, according to its Website. The unnamed owners of the company speak for itself.
251 Communications it appears to be an advertizing and marketing company with no physical address and unnamed owners on its website speaks for itself.
Ethiopia Investor an affiliate of Precision Consult International managed by Henock Assefa. He is also the contact person of the 8th Ethiopian Diaspora investment Forum and organizer of the previous Forums. The firm claims ‘consultancy specializing in Business & investment support services…’, according its Website.
What is more interesting is most of the sponsors of the Forum are Consultants and Media companies promoting business and investment, doing the job of what the official Ethiopian Investment Agency supposed to do. The Agency that changed its website the third time around in the last ten years was outsourced its Website to an outfit called www.ethiomarket.com out of New York that no longer online; leaving some trace behind. The domain name show it is still active with registration address transferred from New York to Addis Ababa address with a new registrar by the name of Mosheky, Zaid, according network solution. Ethiomarket that managed the only Ethiopian government Investment Agency out of New York was affiliated with Manny Amare of ModernETH. Now it is run by General Manager of EthioMarket E-Web Technology with an adress Bole Medhanealem, House #000 Kebele 03, Bole Sub City, P. O. Box 15862 Tel: +251 911 208600 Fax: +251 11 6633282 by the name Mosheky Zaid with Email: firstname.lastname@example.org., according to United Nation Economic Commission on Africa (UNECA)-Technology in Government in Africa (TIGA).
In a previous write up in June of 2011 by the title ‘Investment in Ethiopia is a child play and Corruption is Rampant’, I explore some of the institutions and the individuals involved. The same institutions and individuals appear and reappear many times over doing essentially the same thing; entice selected individuals in the Diaspora to do business and investment in Ethiopia without providing critical information that would make and break an investor.
In that context is where the Ethiopian Diaspora Investment Forum, its organizers and sponsors must be judged and be accountable for the public. It is also in the same context the role of Medias must be judged as I explored Tadias Magazine in its recent conspiracy to ignore the largest Ethiopian Diaspora gathering in history (Ethiopian Sport Federation in North America Festival) in an article titled TADIAS MAGAZINE Duplicity is unforgivable. Once again, Tadias Magazine failed its journalism duty not asking the why, when, where, what, who and how of an event that matters for the Ethiopian Diaspora as well as the mainstream Americans that are able and willing to investment in Ethiopia if Medias do their job to inform the reality in Ethiopia.
It is important civic organization and independent Medias, particularly the Ethiopian Satellite Television present on the Forum to report who-is-who in the promotion of the Diaspora business and investment and get an answer from the organizers, sponsors and the participants. The Diaspora and the general public deprived of credible information regarding the whole investment business that seems to be run by insiders and the ruling regime’s operatives that have no regard for the public interest.
The era of clandestine business and investment game must and should end now. Independent Media and civic organization must be in the forefront of ending the secrecy and corruption of business and investment in Ethiopia and make the responsible persons accountable. Those knowingly and willingly involve should be exposed and warned the warmth of the law will knock on their door sooner of later.
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