Ethiopian News – Top Ten Issues That Dominated 2009

By Ezega Staff, Ezega News

Addis Ababa, December 28, 2009 ( – Year 2009 was a very busy year in Ethiopian News world. Many issues came and passed in quick succession in both Ethiopian online and print media. Some lingered on for much longer than others and commanded broader coverage in domestic and foreign media. In this article, we present some of the topics that we thought received more worldwide coverage and attention than others in 2009. They are listed here in no particular order.

  1. Meles Stepping Down – Various media outlets reported that Meles has been contemplating of stepping down for a while. He himself confirmed this in interviews and press conferences numerous times that he was indeed thinking of stepping down. Both domestic and foreign media have been intrigued by this announcement and wanted to know what it meant and when that may happen. In the end, Meles and the EPRDF decided that he will stay on to serve another term in office and hand over his position of Prime Minster to someone else near the end of the next term – meaning sometime in or before 2015.
  2. Tilahun Gesesse Passed Away – This news touched most Ethiopians greatly. Tilahun Gessesse has been the most well-know and loved Ethiopian musician and one who dominated the Ethiopian music scene for almost three decades. His passage was remembered by millions of people within and outside Ethiopia. Tilahun Gessesse was laid to rest on April 23, 2009.
  3. Election 2010 and Related Issues – This issue has dominated the Ethiopian news scene for sometime, especially in the second half of 2009. News coverage included preparations by the ruling party, PM Meles holding talks with Ethiopian Youth and various other bodies, and election agreements with opposition parties. The news also included persistent accusations by the opposition and some watchdog groups about opposition and media persecution, harassment, systematic exclusions, news blockage, and other unfair practices.
  4. Massive Power Failure – Ethiopia experienced massive power failure and rationing for a good part of the year 2009. There were times when the capital city received power rations of just 2-3 days a week. This had severe consequences on businesses and homes in Addis Ababa and other cities. Numerous articles were written on this subject, such as Ezega’s most widely read article Ethiopia: Dark and Cold. There was also considerable attention and news coverage on Ethiopia’s power supply development efforts, and the successful build and launch of Tekeze I and Gilgel Gibe II, as well as power generation and collaboration agreements with China, France and Kenya.
  5. Ethiopian Airlines – Ethiopian Airlines had a very good year in 2009. The airline not only brought billions of dollars to Ethiopia, but also was recognized for excellence bay various organizations, cementing its hold as Africa’s premier airlines. Ethiopian Airlines also dominated the news landscape with its various alliances and initiatives with other airlines and businesses, as well as it purchases of airplanes from Boeing and Airbus worth billions of dollars.
  6. Ethiopian Commodity Exchange – The first of its kind in Ethiopia, the ECX allows Ethiopian producers to grade and sell their crops at market-set prices, rather than passing through some middlemen who have, at times, been unfair to the farmers. By all accounts, the launch of ECX has been successful and has been in the news for much of 2009 alongside it founder, Ms Eleni Gebre-Medhin.
  7. Arrests, Releases and Sentences – Numerous articles have been written about arrests, releases and sentences handed down in 2009. Leading in the news was the arrest of UDJ opposition leader, Ms. Birtukan Mideksa, a subject that was covered by many domestic and foreign news outlets, government and private groups. Another person who received considerable attention was Teddy Afro who was in prison for about 18 months and released in August of this year. Also receiving broad coverage were the conviction of former army officers who received 10-23 year prison sentences, and the recent sentencing of Berhanu Nega and four others to death, as well as life prison sentences given to 33 other people.
  8. Climate Talks at Copenhagen – PM Meles Zenawi commanded considerable coverage on this one, from both domestic and foreign media sources, in his capacity as leader of Africa’s climate group. He was hailed for playing a significant part in the negotiations and mastery of key issues, and criticized by some for conceding too much and too soon to the west.
  9. Millions Needed Food Aid – Aid groups operating inside Ethiopia have been busy letting the world know that more than 6.2 million Ethiopians needed food aid urgently and are at risk of starvation. The alarm has been disputed by the Ethiopian government at times, which accused foreign aid groups of ulterior motives. Nevertheless, both sides seemed to have worked together to tackle the problem and avoid starvation. In addition to Ethiopia, many countries in East Africa faced serious food insecurity problems this year. The news coverage on this topic was far more significant outside Ethiopia than inside Ethiopia.
  10. Development Issues – Although Ethiopia’s economy slowed significantly this year and the country struggled with foreign balance of payments, economic growth continues nonetheless despite the worldwide slum. Inflation appears to have been subdued. The country continues to announce one initiative after another in various sectors and usually in collaboration with foreign countries, especially China and India. Development issues have dominated the domestic media for much of the year. Government agencies and ministries have been busy undergoing Business Process Reengineering (BPR). Whether these activities will bear fruit as much as they should is unknown. So far, Ethiopia continues to lag much of Africa by most development metrics, as has been reported by Ezega numerous times.

Ezega Staff, Ezega News



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