Tuesday, May 24, 2022
HomeEthiopian NewsExtravagant spending on Addis Ababa Mayor office renovation triggers new mistrust

Extravagant spending on Addis Ababa Mayor office renovation triggers new mistrust

Addis Ababa Mayor Office reports $US 45 million or about 2.2 billion Ethiopian birr renovation cost

Addis Ababa Mayor Office

borkena

Located at the heart of Addis Ababa and an excellent view to most parts of the city, the exquisite Addis Ababa City Administration is one of the great architectural excellence in the city. 

It was built during the time of the Imperial government of Haileselassie in the early 1960s.  Adanech Abeibie, was first appointed by Abiy Ahmed as acting Mayor of Addis Ababa in August 2020 and later elected as mayor in September 2021, launched a project to renovate it. 

Renovation completed and inaugurated over the weekend. She described it as “The building is not just a heritage for our city but an expensive and lasting asset that will be maintained for generations.” 

After the financial cost of it is announced to the public, there seems to be a sentiment among Ethiopians that the project needs to be audited. 

The city administration is claiming that it spent over 2.2 billion Ethiopian birr (equivalent to about $US 45 million). 

Some are making comparisons to the latest 36-floor stories building in the city, which was inaugurated by President Sahlework Zewde.  Hibret Bank spent an equivalent amount of money on its brand-new building. 

Others tend to think 2.2 billion birr spending just on renovation is suspicious.  A good chunk of the money might have been either squandered or stolen. 

There are still others who criticise the spending from the point of view of poor decision-making in prioritising development projects in the country. In that regard, some think it would have been better if the government focused on projects like The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Others say the spending is irresponsible at a time when extensive destruction of social infrastructures in the Afar and Amhara regions of Ethiopia are in need of reconstruction. 

The mayor (and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government) was in smiles when she was taking government officials for a tour of the newly renovated Imperial Haileselassie time landmark structure in the city.  She gets it that the public is disenchanted about, but she does not seem to care about that. And there is no such thing as government accountability. It is theoretically weak and practically absent in Ethiopia.

Abiy Ahmed’s government has been making unpopular decisions including in the political sphere, like ordering the defence force not to pursue TPLF forces to the Tigray region and the release of TPLF war criminals, in recent months. But he has experience in easily getting away with critical mistakes that impacted the country negatively. In fact, it sounds rather more of the ethnic nature of the government system that made it easy for politicians to get away with crime-like political decisions rather than one that is informed by economic imperative. 

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20 COMMENTS

  1. Wow! In this age of utter destruction such spending can be seen as misplaced priority. In a country where government spending on public projects gas been a cash cow for those with crafty and sticky fingers I don’t citizens questioning this project. It needs to be audited by the federal government. On the other hand even during hard times that does not mean city halls should be a dump to work at. I question this sending when I read news about the inflation in the capital reaching almost 40%. I want to hear from the city officials responding to this legit complaint.

    • It is amazing, while war is raging, many people displaced, famine, the govt focuses on cosmetics, beautifying the no so urgent city trying to catch up to other natuons’ cities? Really, whocares? Probably for entertainment of foreigners. Better to put people to work on agruculture, etc to feeditself and export, not import.

      Plus, govt is milkng the diaspora instead of allowing them to create jobs

      Why so much renovation? Have suspicion, during rennivation they want to change sonething. Again, not a priority,also heard fixing Selassie church, why? Who is deciding on this if not EOTC? Very suspicious, changing history?

      In honesty, all those museums for AseMinilik and H Selassie seem out of quality,caricature like statues, wondering better to spend the bllion birr on reay good quality, thought out museums.

      • Have you heard or recall one of Mobutu’s grand projects back in the 1970’s? He and other African leaders of his time were crafty and smooth operators when fleecing their countries bare. They had constructions of state of the art factories, huge renovation projects of offices and head quarters. You remember Mobutu’s 2 billion in US dollars steel manufacturing ‘industrial complex’? It is now where spiders weave their ‘state of the art’ webs. It is assumed that close 75% of that spending was pocketed by Mobutu and his inner circles. It has been an addiction that Africa seems to have not found the weaning medicine for it. To be honest with you, whenever I hear of any planned or completed government projects, my antennas go up. I resign to myself saying ‘here we go again!’ Talk about pandemic! Such lining of pockets is said to have spread even to associations and charities there and here among the Diaspora. It is all like ‘It is my turn now!’

  2. Does anyone remember the hoopla Abiy and his entourage barked about METEC day in day out? Is this METEC 2?
    Below is the educational background of the Mayor of Addis Ababa (1969-1974), Dr Haile Giorgio’s Workeneh

    (Bachelor of Civil Engineering, Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1952. Master of Civil Engineering, Carnegie Institute of Technology, 1954. Doctor of Philosophy, Carnegie Institute of Technology, 1956.

    So what Ethiopians should ask PM Abiy, is why cannot a competent professional be selected to be the Mayor of Addis Ababa? Why should a political cadre of the PP be entitled to be the mayor of a city, for that matter a major international city, a travelers’ hub, capital city, and diplomatic capital of Africa???? How come our standards have fallen so low and below the radar??? Half a century ago, the city was administered by a PhD Engineer and graduate of Carnegie Mellon, why settle for less now? The question is not about ethnicity, not about gender, not about political affiliation or religious denominations. It is about qualifications. The city of Addis cannot become a 21 century city, to attract investments, and make the first impression on visitors and locals alike if it does not solve its water problems, electricity problems, road congestions, traffic jams, safety of residents, hospital problems, massive transportation shortages and on and on, if political cadres sit at the helm and thwart development owing to ignorance, lack of education, lack of qualifications and lack of vision and public responsibility. In the developed world, mayoral offices are among the most demanding and most challenging jobs. Mayors in most cities actually even earn more than the more prestigious governorships and federal offices. This is done commensurate with the difficulty and challenging nature of mayoral posts. Nobody wants to be a passenger in a bus with an inexperienced driver. The steering will shift and take everyone over the cliff. The disaster and casualties will be unbearable thereafter. Ethiopia has been largely run by incompetent political cadres from the dregs era till now. There has been no change in the selection criteria. Affiliation to Ethiopian Socialist Workers party, affiliation to TPLF, affiliation to Prosperity party cannot, should not and must not continue to be the basis to assignment. When will Ethiopia’s political cadres learn to be humble enough and start saying “I am not qualified to be in this position” and leave the spot for a deserving Ethiopian with the education, experience and qualifications to faithfully execute and meet the demands of a position? When will Ethiopia ever be free from the abuse, mistreatment and torture of incompetent cadres???

    • It is amazing, while war is raging, many people displaced, famine, the govt focuses on cosmetics, beautifying the no so urgent city trying to catch up to other natuons’ cities? Really, whocares? Probably for entertainment of foreigners. Better to put people to work on agruculture, etc to feeditself and export, not import.

      Plus, govt is milkng the diaspora instead of allowing them to create jobs

      Why so much renovation? Have suspicion, during rennivation they want to change sonething. Again, not a priority,also heard fixing Selassie church, why? Who is deciding on this if not EOTC? Very suspicious, changing history?

      In honesty, all those museums for AseMinilik and H Selassie seem out of quality,caricature like statues, wondering better to spend the bllion birr on reay good quality, thought out museums.

  3. Spending billions on Oromo controlled government project is a work in progress as scheduled despite Afar or Amhara are in war with the ruthless scavenger TPLF Tigrea and the Oromo OLF and OLA. Amahara or Afar hurting, displacement, impoverishment, death and massacre is part TPLF plan continued by Oromo controlled government.

    Abiy and Adanech are involved in show off public speeches without any tangible policy information, claiming to have won the war when TPLF has regrouped and lunching attacks, dressed for dinner and lunch gatherings as if people Amharas are living in peace under Oromo controlled regions while Oromos are daily stealing and massacring Amhara farmers.

    When millions of Afar and Amhara people are displaced, have no food to eat, no place to live and still fighting with war mongered Terrorists OLF, OLA Oromos and TPLF Tigres both targeting to massacre Amhara such extravaganza shows the government priorities.

    Afar and Amhara must create and form a front to protect each other and fight their enemies.

  4. It is amazing, while war is raging, many people displaced, famine, the govt focuses on cosmetics, beautifying the no so urgent city trying to catch up to other natuons’ cities? Really, whocares? Probably for entertainment of foreigners. Better to put people to work on agruculture, etc to feeditself and export, not import

  5. It is amazing, while war is raging, many people displaced, famine, the govt focuses on cosmetics, beautifying the no so urgent city trying to catch up to other natuons’ cities? Really, whocares? Probably for entertainment of foreigners. Better to put people to work on agruculture, etc to feeditself and export, not import.

    Plus, govt is milkng the diaspora instead of allowing them to create jobs

  6. It is amazing, while war is raging, many people displaced, famine, the govt focuses on cosmetics, beautifying the no so urgent city trying to catch up to other natuons’ cities? Really, whocares? Probably for entertainment of foreigners. Better to put people to work on agruculture, etc to feeditself and export, not import.

    Plus, govt is milkng the diaspora instead of allowing them to create jobs

    Why so much renovation? Have suspicion, during rennivation they want to change sonething. Again, not a priority,also heard fixing Selassie church, why? Who is deciding on this if not EOTC? Very suspicious, changing history?

  7. On that note, let us make sure the legitimacy of this article. As we know currently the aim is to cast doubt on Ethiopia by targeting the govt.

  8. Your readers deserves more than what you have reported. Whay did you not investigate the story, provide and independent verifiable evidence and the nature of the Mayor’s spending? Evidence matter, All we have here rumors and innuendo in a climate of ethnic politics. All you do it add petroleum on te burning fire. You need to take down this lousy story that will not contribute to our understanding the challenges the Addis Ababa is facing know or in the near future. It is sad that in the 21st century we have come to this level of reporting.

    Borkena should create a separate section devoted to Addis Ababa where readers will find informed and evidence reporting about the city that has been and continue to be the center of gravity for Ethiopian politics since the founding of the city. in 1886.

    James William.

    • that is an excellent point. what is the purpose of this article? to make or break Ethiopia????? After all Borkena’s other articles are pretty much one-sided any ways (not supporting Ethiopia) አዛኝ ቂቤ አንጓችአይመስልምን?

  9. Thank you Borkena for providing such an excellent platform for different views that helps every Ethiopians.

    This is where people freely without any intimidation or fear to comment or
    exercise their democratic rights or views from both sides of the aisle.
    Sadly few people with undemocratic believe should learn how it is helpful to freely speak and criticize government when mistakes are done. That is one of the main purpose to build a democratic country.
    s

  10. Lulu and Gigi, please do not shoot the messenger. Borkena is just telling what the administration of Abiy Ahmed and Adenech told Ethiopians. They said 2.1 billion birr that is, 2,100, 000,000 birr or 45,000,000 US was spent on renovating City Hall. With the recent investment announced, for a certain area and for certain people, totaling 10.1 billion birr, or about 200,000,000 US, Ethiopia will be in great place to have about 5 additional city halls in her other major cities renovated. Hooray!!!! Though not 100 % confirmed, some articles claimed AGOA exports to US were about 100 us million. Thus, we can basically say, 1 City hall renovation =1/2 AGOA annual revenue from exports to US. 1 AGOA= 2 city hall renovations. $200 mil investment= 2AGOA= 4 City Hall Renovations. You get the drift.

  11. How to become an instant millionaire without ever working in Ethiopia : Takes about 50 years
    1) Nationalize the properties of hardworking and brilliant businessmen and women and traders WHO PAID THEIR TAXES TO GOVERNMENT (1975 Proclamation )
    2) Run down properties nationalized and do not do any repairs for nearly 50 years.
    3) Meanwhile fight an insurgency in a guerrilla warfare.
    4) After 17 years of war, come back in tatters and become the new leaders.
    5) Steal Nationalized properties and land you did not work for in the name of Privatization
    6) take massive amounts of loans without any collateral or due diligence and default on all of them
    7) create new class of so called “Balehabetoch”
    8) DO NOT PAY ANY TAXES OWED TO Government
    9) change names, rinse and repeat cycle with newcomers.

    • Please allow me to add #10 as follows:

      10). Promote the entire peasantry from tenant servitude to serfdom slavery = Collectivization = 1975
      That is after evicting an emperor and turning the palace into a den of deadly vermin = Deresas/deacons of Marx/Lenin/Mao.
      If you have said this already use mine just to shine it up.

      Peace!!!

  12. Your nine points summery really explains how to get away with blood sucking, theft and murder and to get instantly billionaire or millionaire in Ethiopia.
    When almost all previous Communist, Marxist, Leninists countries have returned the Nationalized properties back to the families and decedents of those hardworking brilliant businessmen and women, both Woyane and PP are not even mentioning how to come clean and return those stolen properties. In fact the stealing more money, properties and land leaving the vast majority destitute, homeless and with out a family to die and live with.

  13. Ittu Aba Farda, no I did not mention that and thanks for bringing that up. Are the average Ethiopian farmers in any part of the country doing any better today? Even Abiy himself admitted that EPRDF was exploiting them in their names. Massive fertilizer loans, debts, evictions for commercial land leasing and on and on. Fifty years almost have passed since “land to the tiller” was proclaimed. Our farmers are still poor. Fifty years of NGOs, FAO, UN, Ministry of Agriculture bureaucrats fanfare, the questions that need to be asked are 1) why still not self-sufficient 2) what happened to the billions of dollars of loans, grants, subsidies 3) why no mechanization of agriculture?????

    And Kay, what can one say:
    1) Yilma Bedelu
    2) Bekele Molla
    3) Mamo Kacha
    Let’s just take these popular names from yesterday. Self made, dedicated business men, who started from scratch and worked their way up. There must be a tabulation of all the self made and independent entrepreneurs, traders and job creators of yesterday, The path to prosperity MUST be through hard work, merit and effort not political demagoguery, violence and outright theft. A nation cannot keep destroying its true talents and expect to live on the fairytales of political opportunists.

    • Peter Robinhood,
      Who were the the three individuals you mentioned in your comment? I have been trying to do catch up with modern history of the old country. I have been gabbling up books penned in English during the last two decades. I would appreciate your input about the individuals.

  14. Ittu Aba Farda,

    Here are some references
    1) Bedilu Building near Coomercial College ( On Tizetachen Be EBS, you will get the details)

    2) Bekele Molla Hotels were very popular hotels in various parts of Ethiopia ( the story of this genius hardworking businessman and entrepreneur, who realized his dreams by identifying the acute shortage of hotel facilities in Ethiopia and built various sizes of hotels with bedroom services in rural Ethiopia to accommodate the need is amazing. What did the TPLF gang did to the legacy of this Ethiopian icon is left for you to study).

    3) Blue??? Mamo Kacha buses, privately owned and well maintained were popular for landline transportation of passengers from one city or town to another in Ethiopia. The derg regime nationalized and ran this to the ground.

    Each and every nationalized property has its own unique history. From Harambe Hotel in Addis ( Getaneh Worku original owner, trained in the hotel management field, with years of dedicated service to his country) to the brilliant business men and women of the time (e.g. owner of Iyerusalem Memorial Building), the Belay Tekelu’s, Gebretensai Tedlla’s of yesterday who worked hard day in day out, honing their crafts, creating jobs, wealth and meaning in life and some purpose along the way.

    There are those who do, and those who sit idle, coveting what they did not work for, what they did not aspire to create and develop. You cannot duplicate, steal, or nationalize the uniqueness and God given talent of an Afework Tekele, a Bekele Molla, a Haile Gebreselassie and millions others. One cannot rewrite history, be put on a pedestal through politics, cheap talk, demagoguery, sleight of hand, imprisonments, executions and what have you. The works of the individual talented together with those who worked for the betterment of themselves and their communities at large will live on whether the derg, tplf or pp come or go—- And that is the Poetic justice of life, the ephemeral vs the eternal.

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