Ethiopia’s Intelligence Department to rebrand as National Information Center

Ethiopia’s Intelligence Department, National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), is rebranding itself as National Information Center (NIC) if the parliament approves it.

Ethiopia _ intelligence _ National Information Center
NISS Director, Demelash Gebremichael. Photo : FBC

December 23, 2019

Ethiopia’s Intelligence Department, National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), announced on Monday that it is rebranding itself.

The department has been going through numerous reforms, structural and personnel, as part of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration reform measure.

State-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC) cited the director, Demelash Gebremichael, as saying that draft legislation to guide fundamental institutional reform measures is prepared.

If the legislation is approved in the Ethiopian parliament, the department will be branded as National Information Center (NIC) eliminating keywords like “intelligence” and “security.”

The director did not highlight why rebranding his department was needed at this time.

But he described the proposed reform as “part of the work to create an information and security institution free from political, ethnic and religious affiliations.” The reform measure focused, as claimed by government from the get go, on making the institution a neutral one. But there has been allegation that the new director himself is from what is now Oromo Democratic Party (ODP), a party whose chairman is Prime Pinister Abiy Ahmed.

A strategic plan that charts goals to be achieved in ten years’ time is also prepared.

Preparations are also finalized, according to the director, to offer security and intelligence education at a B.A. Degree level. That’s part of the plan to strengthen the institution with technologically skilled manpower, as per the report.  

Tesfaye Daba, Chairperson of a parliamentary standing committee for peace and foreign relation, reportedly remarked that NISS is implementing reform measures to create a lasting institution.

Before embarking on reform measures, NISS had the image of being a tool for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). There was an allegation that it was dominantly controlled by a single ethnic group.

Under Getachew Assefa, one of the Key TPLF figures, the institution was a symbol of torture and repression. One of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s major reform measures soon after he took office in 2018 was to remove the security chief and replace him with the head of Ethiopian Air force, General Adem Mohammed who is currently serving in the role of Defense Chief of Staff following the assassination of former chief of staff, Seare Mekonnen.

In related news, NISS said that it has finalized an investigation of selected government organizations suspected with grand corruption. But details are yet to be made public.

Demelash Gebremichael says over half a billion Ethiopian birr is recovered from tax evasion and plundering of government resources.  He also claimed that successful work has been done in terms of acquiring information related to the circulation of illegal firearms and cash. 

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