Perhaps one of the most intriguing and interesting aspects of today's Ethiopia - at least on the surface - is the dual nature of the political and economic landscape in the country. Most Ethiopians are mindful that the EPRDF era represents one of the most repressive and divisive regimes in the country's history. Most people continue to worry that TPLF is further narrowing the political landsacping by controlling all aspects of life in the country and marginalizing groups not affiliated with its narrow ethnic base.
Yet, for reasons not entirely clear to the majority of Ethiopians and foreign observers, the country is experiencing one of the most remarkable economic expansions in its long history. We believe that only well-trained economists have the authorithy to explain what truly drives this economic expansion. But then, one of the best economists of the country is in exile facing a death sentence (because he won the mayorship of Addis Ababa in the last election). The other notable economists in the country will have to sit tight and quiet fearful of anything that may annoy the TPLF hierarchy.
Therefore, in the absence of input from these trained people, one is left to wonder whether it is the mass Chinese influx of capital and labor, or remittance from the Diaspora, or money that PM Meles brings from World Bank, EU, the US, and IMF, or investment from groups ranging from the Saudi king to Shiekh Alamoudin and to the Nigeran former dictator Obasanjo that drive this economy.
To understand this - and more importantly - to learn how Ethiopians of all walks of life see the recent influx of Chinese and Indian influence, we hit the road and talked to people. In the following pages, we present a summary of what people say in the streets. We seem to get the sense that the Chinese seem to enjoy a somehwhat favorable opinion from most people while the Indians seem to suffer from poor PR.
Left to right going clockwise from bottom: new roads being constructed by the Chinese in Addis Ababa.
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